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Hang Up The Phone


Most would agree working in the fitness industry is a rewarding profession. As club owners and operators, you are in the business of changing lives. On a daily basis, health clubs assist members in achieving their fitness goals, establishing a healthy lifestyle and gaining self-confidence.

While watching these transformations can be gratifying, there is probably one aspect about the job that is not as enjoyable: collecting failed electronic fund transfers (EFTs). Trying to get in touch with members to update billing information can be a time consuming and tedious task.

Raquel Rehman, the account manager for Eagle Fitness in Reno, Nevada, was contacting past-due accounts herself. “The biggest challenges to collecting EFTs was calling people at the right times in their day to have them be able to update their card,” she said. “Also, calling upwards of 250 people a month takes a lot of time for me that can be better spent elsewhere.”

Facing this problem of spending hours on the phone, tracking down members’ updated credit card numbers, Rehman decided to make a change. She turned to a basic technology to maximize time and returns: texting.

Partnering with Textmunication, Rehman is now able to text standard messages to accounts that are past-due with a standardized message. The message typically reads, “Eagle Fitness: There has been an error processing your membership payment. Please call us to update your account or on your next workout visit.”

According to Rehman, the ability to easily contact members was an intriguing aspect of the technology. “The most appealing thing was the idea of texting to contact members,” she said. “What sold me was the price structures and how easy the interface is to use and how responsive the staff at Textmunication is. I scheduled a call to have someone show me how it works before we signed up and Nick [Miniello], the co-founder, was the one who made the sales call and really sold me on it.”

Now, Rehman can simply send out automated SMS reminders to all members who need to update billing information, saving her a great amount of time. “A text goes out first and then I will usually call the smaller percentage of people left a week later that still haven’t updated it,” explained Rehman.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 90 percent of adults now have a cell phone, so sending text reminders is an effective way to reach members. “The text is such an ingenious way to remind people to update their card, because that reminder is always on their phone where they see it constantly when they go into their phone messages,” added Rehman.

Eagle Fitness member Lulu Gilmore agreed that SMS alerts are the most convenient way to contact her about pressing issues. “I have received texts regarding new credit card info and it was very convenient and helpful,” explained Gilmore. “The first text I received, I was shocked Eagle Fitness was so tech-savvy, but I was appreciative.”

Freed from spending hours on the phone, Rehman now has more time to devote to other pressing issues. She explained utilizing text to collect past-due EFTs has been a game changer for her monthly schedule. “I can’t stress enough how nice it is to have people call or come in to fix their billing issue on their own, and without needing me to worry about if they have been notified,” she said. “And on months when I am particularly busy and don’t get a chance to call everyone, I know they have been notified via text.”

If you find yourself spending hours trying to get in touch with members who need to update billing information, Rehman suggested taking advantage of the services out there that can help streamline the process. “My advice to other clubs is to sign up for a service like Textmunication,” she explained. “It takes so much of the burden off of yourself and staff. Customers also like the instant notification to get their account taken care of, which is especially nice for 24-hour clubs like Eagle Fitness.”

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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