Don’t Foot the Bill

Don't Foot the Bill

In today’s market, fewer clubs are surviving on monthly dues alone. For many, group and personal training and other personalized services have become the revenue generators that bulk up income.  The common trend for members to pay for these services has shifted from pre-paid packages to monthly billing programs, which helps keep income consistent and a bit more predictable.

There are some benefits and risks that you should consider when shifting to a monthly billing or recurring billing model for personal training. First, make sure that you know the laws in your state concerning your liability when selling a service that will be rendered at a future date. If you were already selling pre-paid training, then the same laws/rules probably apply. Along that same line, if you haven’t already been using a contract or agreement that outlines payment and use of services, it’s time to make one. Make sure that your contract clearly states the terms and conditions for the redemption, refunds and more. It is always good practice to consult your legal advisors to ensure that you will be able to enforce the agreement and aren’t breaking any laws.

Second, have pricing and payment schedules that make sense to the consumer and are easy to understand. To do this you need a billing and software system to closely track and automate the process. Your membership billing company is a great resource to help consider your options and explain how you can administrate the process.  You can offer recurring billing for their training program with a specified date. Others will likely sign up for the same recurring billing for training services and want it to continue until otherwise cancelled.

Your club management and billing system should handle both.  It is highly recommended that you have a very well-thought-out system for following up on billed items that return. Member transactions will decline and very often the member has already booked sessions with the trainer. If you don’t collect on the owed payments, then you will allow members to train without paying, and then you will be paying the trainer when the club hasn’t gotten paid. This is why the agreement the member signs and a good tracking system are key to this model.

Third, scheduling and reporting. Members and trainers need an easy and convenient way to schedule appointments. Along with that the system should enforce booking and payment rules so that it can remain automated. Good club management software will have member and trainer portals that allows them to schedule in the club and online. By linking payment requirements to the scheduling you can enforce when, how and who a member can book with.

Pay attention to report information. You should know how much revenue has been collected and how much has been redeemed. Stay on top of the members that are not redeeming visits and could be likely to cancel because the visits are piling up.

Create a plan that will work for your club and make sure you get all staff involved. The recurring billing model may not work for everyone, but for those of you that it does, it can make selling and retaining clients easier.

 

Susanne Nauseda has an exercise science degree that she put to use in the industry for 10 years prior to joining Twin Oaks Software, where she has worked for the last 13 years. Contact her at 866.278.6750 or at snauseda@tosd.com.

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