No matter the size or shape of your fitness business, you will inevitably have to deal with members or clients that just aren’t paying, at some point. For small businesses this can be a crippling blow to your cash flow, and it can be difficult to determine how best to handle these late payers.
Here we are going look at 5 simple ideas to consider or even implement today to deal with and prevent late or non-paying members…and stop you losing your mind, and your customers while you’re at it.
1. Set Up an Automated Payment System
Setting up some form of automated payment system such as direct debit will prevent you from having to chase up your customers on a weekly or monthly basis as you will have their payment details (typically a credit card) on your records at all times.
This is a great way to reduce the chance of late payments occurring in the first place.
2. Make Your Payment Terms Clear
Always make sure your customers are perfectly aware of all costs involved before they become a client.
If you impose fees or interest for late payments, then make this clear to your customers, and provide them with a physical copy of your terms and conditions for their own records.
3. Set Up Automatic Reminders
Create a series of custom reminders that are automatically distributed your members when a payment is missed. This might be a sequence of 3 emails or text messages (or both) that escalate from a gentle reminder to more firm instructions as to how to fix up the due payment. By automating this, you can ensure a consistent message is being communicated to your members as early as possible.
Always remember, it’s not personal. Keep your messaging professional and about facts not feelings!
4. Call Them
If you have the time or staff resources to do this then it may be a good idea to call your members to let them know that their membership payment is either due or overdue.
This might seem quite obvious, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Talking to your members can be a particularly effective and direct approach for informing them they are late on their payment as it means that you can use a softer touch rather than resorting to more extreme measures.
5. Learn When To Let It Go
We are all familiar with the concept of debt collection agencies, and many commercial gyms employ them as a strategy for recouping funds from late or non-paying customers.
Although it is an arguably effective method, the service comes at a high cost both in terms of the premium your business will pay and the high probability that you will lose the opportunity to ever regain that person as a customer in the future.
Based on my experience, it is generally not advisable to use a debt collector. Sometimes it pays to walk away!
Basically, prevention is better than a cure and member retention should always be your primary focus when dealing with late gym member payments.
Do your best to ensure you have an automated, personalised and helpful system in place at your fitness business to reduce the number of late payers, and maximise the number of happy long term members you have.
Find out more about Why More and More Gyms Are Choosing Clubworx To Track & Manage Their Fitness Business…