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Debt Collection: Installments are Here for Good

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Installment plans help eliminate friction within both the member’s purchase decision and your club’s debt collection process.

Gym members across the fitness industry accrue millions of dollars in debt every year as they fail to make payments on their dues and other expenses.

To address this uncollected revenue, operators often use an outside debt collection agency to pursue each debtor not only for the debt but also the remaining contract value of the debt. The agency will normally take a percentage or fixed amount of every dollar they collect, some also add an administration fee for their services which are also payable by the member.

This approach has two negative effects. First, you’re reducing your potential revenue. Second,  you’re completely eradicating the relationship between your brand and the customer. They will never join with you again.

Why not take a different approach? 

In most cases, club operators do not pursue debt collection because they lack the system to manage it. What if your membership management platform could create automated installment plans for members providing them with a simple payment plan to pay their membership arrears and get back into the gym. This should be the ultimate goal for a health and fitness chain — retaining as many members as possible while maximizing collected revenue.

Allowing members to make payment plans will empower them to pay off debt themselves. This eliminates the need to assign staff to chase them down, allowing them to focus on delivering more value on the gym floor, and will compliment automated resubmissions by lowering the repayment value which will increase collection rates. A win, win. 

Why stop at debt collection? 

There are many payment vehicles across the world such as Afterpay, Zip Co and Klarna that allow consumers to “Buy Now and Pay Later.” Why not implement this payment option across all aspects of your business? For example, you could attract more members to explore ancillary revenue opportunities by letting them pay for large personal training packages or for a whole season of summer camps with installments. You could drive member acquisition by splitting initiation fees across several deductions. All of this means new revenue streams for you and a better journey for your members.

What technology do you need to support this?

A best-in-class club management solution (CMS) is required to enable installment plans both within debt collection and as an additional payment option for your products and services. Your CMS solution should offer a highly configurable and automated debt collection process supporting automated resubmissions, member notifications, fees, governance for when to turn on/off member access and of course installment plans. Your CMS should also support installment plans as a payment option across all products and services involving a large upfront payment. Finally, your CMS needs the accounting capabilities to properly report on deferred revenue, write-offs, etc. related to the installment plans.

With the proper CMS, you can enable installment plans and eliminate friction within both the member’s purchase decision and the debt collection process.

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Tom Kemp

Tom Kemp is the new business and implementation manager at Exerp. He can be reached at info@exerp.com. For more information visit exerp.com.

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