When it comes to setting up a new payment collection system, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that its more hassle than it’s worth.
It’s too complicated.
It might drive loyal members away.
I don’t mind collecting the money each month.
My system works fine as it is.
On the face of it, those are all good reasons and can be very convincing when you only think of a fitness business direct debit as just an alternative payment method, that can be easily replaced by cash or card payments.
But what if we told you, that direct debits improve member retention at gyms dramatically. You might not believe it and think that the two are completely unrelated.
But we can assure you that over 20 years of handling direct debits for the fitness industry, we can prove to you without question, that a fitness business direct debit will increase your member retention significantly.
How To Improve Member Retention With A Fitness Business Direct Debit
There are actually several reasons for how a direct debit will increase member retention at your health club, so let’s quickly sum up the 4 prime reasons why a fitness business direct debit will keep your members around and paying for longer.
Number 1: Direct Debits Mean That Members Can’t Miss Payments
Your members are busy people with busy lives. As much as they might love your gym, it’s unlikely that the first thing on your member’s mind every month is the due date for their gym membership, when they also have their mortgage, rent, car payments, water, electric, gas, council tax and all manner of bills coming out as well (usually by direct debit may we add).
It’s only a matter of time before they forget. This means that not only do you have to start actively chasing your members for money (which can quickly leave a bad impression), but it also stops the responsibility resting on you every month.
In fact, between 3-5% of card payments fail each month due to cards expiring or being cancelled, so that leaves an even higher potential for this happening, even without your members meaning it to.
And when a member misses a payment, it means they don’t have access to your gym and therefore, it’s a chance that they won’t come ever again.
Number 2: Direct Debits Mean That YOU Can’t Miss Payments
Much like your members, your health club business is made up of people and people make mistakes.
If you’re having to keep track of every single payment from every single member, then it’s only a matter of time before you start making mistakes.
And whether malicious or not, if you’re not chasing your members to pay, then in most cases they won’t.
At the end of the day, your service and the reason you started a health club business in the first place was to spend your efforts helping members improve their health and fitness, not chasing them for missed payments. This extra admin can easily put a strain on your team and mean that only do you potentially miss making income, but that your service falters because you’re too focused on admin rather than training.
Number 3: Direct Debits Are More Convenient For The Customer
By its nature, direct debits are more convenient. No one has to remember them or pay attention to them.
Every month, like clockwork, their gym membership will be taken out of their account, with no awkward conversations, no chasing and no one keeping track of it.
It’s perfect and leaves you and your members free to focus on their exercise and health, rather than financials.
But most importantly, it creates a better relationship with your members as you can focus on providing them with a better service and overall there’s less anxiety around money for everyone.
Plus it means that if they want to upgrade or change their membership in any way, you can just update it on the system and the direct debit is changed for good, without anyone having to remember it.
Number 4: Direct Debits Make Your Club MORE Valuable
Netflix is an online streaming service with no contract that allows customers to cancel their subscription at any time.
Every month, millions of people don’t find the time to watch Netflix.
Every month, millions of people pay for Netflix that they’re not watching.
This is the power of Direct Debit!
Now, this example isn’t meant to demonstrate how customers are stupid or that direct debits take advantage of customers. Your members are extremely savvy and make an important and weighed financial decision when they choose to join your gym. They only have a limited amount of money and yet they see the value of your gym and invest some of that limited income into your business.
That’s an amazing testimony of how good your gym is!
But every month is not the same and that’s why we bring up the Netflix example. Some months, your members won’t have time for the gym and they won’t be in the mood.
In the same way, millions of people pay for Netflix, even though they aren’t watching anything. It offers no value to them during these periods and yet they continue to pay for it and most importantly, they don’t feel ripped off.
They still value Netflix enough to keep their subscription, even though they don’t use it.
That’s the psychology of a direct debit. It changes the way your customers view money.
If you ask a customer to pay each month, some months your gym will have no value for them because they’re unlikely to use it. However, a direct debit means that your gym becomes a permanent feature of their lives. A direct debit means that your gym is a fact of life, a convenient service that they can use whenever they want.
Your gym is simply there!
It’s as easy to go to your gym as it is to turn on the TV and catch a quick show on Netflix, or turn on the tap and have a glass of water.
By stopping your customer from having to weigh up the value or need for your gym each month and instead make it a convenient and easy service that they can use without having to think about it, then the value of your gym goes up in your customer’s mind. It’s an amazing glitch in the way that humans think about the way they value things, but it’s one of the most powerful reasons why setting up a fitness business direct debit allows you to retain members.
Ashbourne Can Help Your Health Club Retain More Members
For 20 years, Ashbourne has been at the forefront of helping the fitness and health club industry collect their payments through direct debit, to retain more members and cut their administration drastically, to keep them in business.
We have hundreds of gyms that we manage and help stay in business through the power of direct debit and our dozens of other management tools.
If you’re interested in setting up a direct debit service for your health club or fitness business, then contact us today and one of our team can show you just how powerful direct debit can be for your fitness business.