Here is how to best manage gym membership payment suspensions
- Ensure membership periods are correctly adjusted by length of suspension
- Facilitate constant forms of two-way communication with members
- Be vigilant when altering member payment plans to best reflect circumstances
- Stay informed about upcoming events
The key to suspending gym member payments
In an ideal world, fitness businesses would never have a need to suspend member payments, consistently billing their client base over time for the provision of valued services. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible.
Whether it be a family requesting a hold on their membership as they venture off on a dream holiday, or other external circumstances that require temporary payment suspensions; there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Adjust memberships based on total length of suspension
Though it seems like common sense, many businesses may fail to correctly adjust memberships based on the total length of payment suspensions needed. While the actual process for managing suspended payment periods may vary depending on membership type, here is what you should do:
Direct Debit Arrangements: Place a hold on all direct debit payments by altering payment schedules within your gym management software. Leave memberships suspended until the requested date, or until external circumstances allow. After this period, resume payment schedules or revise membership plans.
Up-front Memberships: Place a temporary suspension on the clients membership so that club access rights are adjusted. To ensure that no membership time is lost due to the suspension period, be sure to extend the members expiry date to accurately reflect the total time of suspension.
Stay in constant communication with your gym members
One of the scariest things to come of recent situations, is an influx of media articles that have aimed to pit gym members against fitness clubs. As such, understanding what people are being told can often be the key to improving retention and keeping members happy. This is why communication is so important. It helps allow your clients to feel reassured and prevents them from taking unnecessary actions.
Here are some of the things your members are being told about gym cancellations:
“The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) says you can’t be charged for a service not being provided”
“Gym payments are direct debited from your customers’ accounts so the power is in your hands”
“You can ask your bank to cancel your direct debit request and they will promptly process this”
See the problem here? If members aren’t given enough information from you, they turn to Google. What do they find? Articles evoking their consumer rights, telling them to go straight to the bank.
So, please. Be proactive, keep your members in the loop and process suspensions promptly (when it’s the right thing to do).
Be careful when altering member payment plans
Depending on what gym management software you use and what direct debit provider you partner with, the actual process of altering memberships/ payment suspensions can be drastically different. What won’t change though, is the need to be very cautious when altering the payment plan profiles of your members. The last thing you want to do is create false suspensions. So, here are some of our top tips:
- Ensure the right dates have been put in when processing the suspension.
- Every gym has a different procedure when processing suspensions so be sure to follow your set guidelines. Do you have a fee? Is there a maximum suspension period? Do payments get scheduled to resume in the future or is this done manually?
- Depending on your software, ensure that payment plans are changed in addition to suspensions. You don’t want to suspend membership access but proceed to send a charge to members bank accounts because payment schedules were overlooked.
- Understand whether this process will be automated or done manually. Regardless, triple check all aspects of the suspension to ensure automation’s aren’t resumed prematurely or manual interference is not filled with errors.
Stay up-to-date with upcoming events
Nothing sounds more time consuming than keeping up with the news. Though, in light of recent events, it has proved to be critical. So, whether touching base with direct debit members to see if they have any upcoming commitments that may affect their membership, or quickly browsing though the news to keep informed on worldly situations – this step should be non-negotiable. In fact, it is just one way to improve the overall member experience at your gym.
Best case, you spend 5-10 minutes a day to find out nothing has changed and don’t need to adjust member payment suspensions.
Worst case, you go about your daily business and don’t see the critical information that is relevant to your business. We’re talking about new hygiene practices, further lock-downs, and more.
No matter what industry you operate in, it is always essential to plan for the worst-case scenarios. What do you get for being prepared? Well, that’s simple… The ability to stay on top of changing circumstances, the information needed to comfort worried customers, and potentially even advice that could be critical moving forward (Such as tips to move business online etc.).
Partner with a payment provider who does right by the fitness industry
If there is one thing that became apparent within the fitness industry, it is that large corporate debiting companies failed to keep their customers (You) as the priority. That is why VIGYR Gym Software partners directly with Debit First, a direct debit company who specialises in the fitness industry.
They not only place process development on the back of member feedback, but they also ensure that all clients maintain complete freedom and control of their members payments, data, and more. That’s why at VIGYR, we always recommend Debit First as the best gym debiting company.
Find out more about our Gym Software and Debit First, here.