Three ways to make your billings and collections process more efficient.
1. Rely on technology to contact members, but always remember how important it is to “talk” to your members as often as possible: With a click of a button, sending out a mass email is the best way to reach thousands of members quickly, but when a member’s payment declines, understand that this is a great opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. I always find a lot of value in “understanding” a members’ perspective, so don’t just call them to tell them their card declined. Ask them about their experience at your gym or tell them about the newest and greatest piece of equipment, and ask if they’ve tried it. Maybe set up a time for them to meet with a personal trainer. Every successful gym has mastered the art of member engagement — you can too. Get more value out of your collection calls and turn them into marketing or relationship-building opportunities.
2. Develop a collection policy that all team members know and understand: Nothing is more unprofessional than scrambling for answers in front of a valued member, or pushing the member off to another business associate just because the simplest answers are not readily available. Streamlined processes make everybody’s job easier, and allow the gym owner to reap the rewards of faster cash flow and better communication. Establish very strict guidelines and workflows regarding how and when to reach out to a past-due member as the account ages. Being proactive and resolving past-due accounts within the first 30 days is crucial. Once a consumer stops paying their dues and stops going to the gym for any period of time, it is nearly impossible to reengage that member. At least two friendly calls should be placed with all declined members within the first 15 days.
3. Gather more information up front: How many times have you called or emailed a member just to find out they have pretty much disappeared after just one or two months? It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Between 1 to 5 percent of all members will eventually become a late-stage collection issue, so having a trusted collection agency in place is a major requirement within the gym industry. Collection agencies rely on accurate data and information, so gather as much information as you can. Within your membership agreement make sure you have enough space for multiple phone numbers (cell, landline, work phone, etc.) and multiple email addresses, plus you can request the last four digits of a member’s social security number. A collection agency will use this data to ensure better overall results, and remember to only partner with service providers who are PCI Compliant and certified through a third-party auditor. It is our obligation within the fitness industry to protect consumer data.