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 while also using gym member retention strategies to ensure you don’t lose out on your members.
Here we are going to look at 5 simple ideas for gym owners to consider or even implement today to deal with and prevent late or non-paying members…and stop you losing your mind, and your new 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 for their gym membership fees 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 so you can spend more time helping your existing members achieve their fitness goals.
2. Make Your Payment Terms Clear
Always make sure your new members are perfectly aware of all costs involved before they sign up to become a client.
If you impose fees or interest for late payments, then make this clear to your customers beforehand, and provide them with a physical copy of your terms and conditions for their own records.
3. Set Up Automatic Reminders
SMS or Email reminders can keep your members informed without bugging them during their busy schedule. People check their phones at least 80 times per day on average, text or email reminders are hard to miss. Create a series of custom reminders that are automatically distributed to 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 club 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 like fines or cancellation of memberships. This will also help you maintain your gym membership retention rates.
5. Learn When To Let It Go
We are all familiar with the concept of debt collection agencies, and many health clubs, commercial gyms, fitness clubs and studios 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 fitness and health club owners will pay and the high probability of losing the opportunity to ever regain that person as a customer in the future.
Based on our 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 membership 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.
The fitness industry has transformed drastically over the last decade especially with the arrival of CrossFit gyms, Yoga studios, Altitude training gyms, etc. Clubworx gym management software has been built to suit all types of fitness businesses. Find out more about Why More and More Gyms Are Choosing Clubworx to implement their Membership Retention Strategies.