The Best Practice Guide to Using a Gym Payment System

Published on: 
02 September 19
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12 min read

Your payment processing system should be a tool, not a burden. It should make both one-off and recurring payments easy to manage and process – and be part of your greater management system. In an industry as competitive as fitness, you can’t lag with processes such as payments. Having efficient systems in place makes for a smooth membership experience for your customers. It also means you can focus your time on your wider business goals and strategy. Plus, staying ahead of the competition means you need regular cashflow; so you need an effective payment system in place. 

From having a customer sign their contract to any following payments, your digital tools need to be tailored to your members because they directly impact the customer experience. Whether you are a fitness center, health club, or studio; efficiency for you and your members plays a crucial role in growing your business. In this article, we will discuss payment systems and the customer experience, the key players disrupting the industry, and features to consider when implementing your gym payment system. 

How Your Payment System Impacts Customer Experience 

customer-experience

Payment providers need to keep up with the current demand. Every industry is being heavily influenced by technology and digitalization – the fitness industry is no different. What beneficial member services do you offer your customers? Can they book classes through your mobile app and pay for their membership quickly? Is their membership contract east to set up, sign and access? Your payment system needs to be as competitive as the rest of your business. Mobile customer experience is a priority, with 52% of customers less likely to engage with a company if the mobile experience is bad. 

Customers are at the heart of any business. After all, you can’t have a business without them. Your gym’s customer service is crucial to keeping members engaged and coming back. From signing up for a new membership, to booking classes and making payments, the experience should always be simple. It’s up to you to deliver this straight-forward process and to manage the experience. This should be as simple for you as it is for your customers. You should have the time to focus on broader business objectives, not the admin of payments. Customers should be able to focus on their training and fitness goals, whether it’s group exercise classes, personal training sessions, or simply turning up at the gym to get a workout in. How you process your payments is a massive part of this. If it’s a hard and long-winded process, it will negatively affect customer experience, which in turn can result in clients canceling their memberships. By 2020, customer experience will surpass product and price as the key differentiator for brands.  

How to Implement a Positive Customer Experience

Although there has been growth and disruption with payment systems, there is still a lot of room to develop. The majority of legacy payment systems available possess features that can, in fact, negatively impact customer experience. The lack of individualization and customer-focused systems result in a payment experience that’s rigid with no flexibility. Late fees that have traditionally been put in place to discourage missed payments now have the opposite effect. This process leaves members with little control, if any, over their payments. 

Payments are one of the most common touchpoints between customers and businesses, which is why it so integral to get it right. Most customers don’t have the patience for any friction in the payment process. Whether it’s paying at a restaurant or paying for a spin class at a club; this applies to everything. They may be happy to pay a membership enrollment fee or set up a direct debit with their credit card. But they want this process to be straightforward and seamless. By 2020, more than 50% of all payments in Europe will happen through a mobile device. Every client is different, so they may want to use different payment methods and channels. As technology continues to develop and consumer behavior changes, customers are going to expect more innovative ways to pay. 

2 Payment Companies Disrupting the Fitness Industry 

As fitness brands grow, they can become more challenging to manage. In a customer-focused world, fitness businesses are reliant on the quality of their payment providers. To survive in today’s marketplace, a fitness business needs a centralized system in place to manage everything. From memberships and scheduling to analytics and processing payments, the ability to tailor payment systems to the customer and work well within the digital landscape is crucial.  

Stripe    

Payment providers like Stripe have developed technology which has allowed gyms to innovate when it comes to payment processes. When it comes to global club enterprises, you no longer need to find 25 merchant acquirers for 25 different countries. A centralized system allows you to manage payments in one place. Stripe is a user and business-friendly option that offers transparent pricing that can integrate with hundreds of products and management software.  

GoCardless  

GoCardless is another payment company with technology that integrates with numerous fitness management membership platforms. When it comes to taking Direct Debit, it has historically involved a lot of manual work. GoCardless looks to improve visibility with real-time updates so you can respond immediately to any problems or payments missed. By improving the payment experience, you can improve the membership experience and increase retention. 

7 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Payment Provider 

Payment processing is just one aspect of membership management, but it is essential and can result in big changes. A payment solution should be future-proof and improve the membership experience as a whole. Here are seven things to consider when choosing your payment provider.  

Compatible With Gym Management Software   

Your gym management software will be at the core of the organization of your business. It’s the space where you manage memberships, keep track of classes, and scheduling. It is a powerful set of tools that aims to streamline your business management and reduce the long hours of manual input. Your payment provider should be compatible with your gym management software and work together seamlessly. If you’ve recently implemented a centralized management system with the point of having everything in one place, you don’t want to go outside of that solution to track payments. 

By integrating with gym management software, you can keep track of payments in real-time. This means that you can take action if a payment hasn’t gone through in a way that resolves the problem. A customer may have accidentally missed a payment. With the right gym management software, you have the tools to reach out to them to check the situation before charging a cancellation fee that may be unnecessary. For example, GoCardless notifies members of missed payments via email. This keeps the level of communication high while helping to rectify the problem and means managers can react immediately to a situation.

Your members and clients are at the core of the business. Everything is built around your target audience and ideal clients; why should your payment processes be any different? Choosing a payment provider that understands how customer-focused your business is and is aligned with your ideals is essential. This is why payment solutions that can integrate with your digital tools and technology are growing. 

High-Quality Customer Experience  

According to the Payments Ecosystem 2019 research report, providers are being forced to make payments as frictionless as possible. The methods and channels that consumers use are evolving, with mobile payments being huge in developing markets. Companies that use fees, bans, or regulate the way consumers pay could push consumers towards new methods, forcing them to bypass legacy providers.

The customer experience begins from the very first point of contact with your business. Whether that’s in person or online, the customer journey has started. The payment experience is part of the customer experience; so it needs to be efficient. Transform your membership experience and boost member retention with the right payment solution. 

High-Quality customer experience means complete transparency with no unexpected fees and managing payments seamlessly. Your members should be able to make online and mobile payments with no trouble. The customer experience is more than exercise and fitness; it’s in everything from the meaningful interactions with your staff members to paying for a class. Long lines at a club or gym can be frustrating, and by making some elements self-service, you can cut down on queuing. Self-service capabilities can include a mobile app or client portal to collect payments and book classes. 

Check out the following books on customer experience and how you can improve customer retention:

Control and Flexibility Over Payments

Having flexibility can be a great selling point when attracting potential new members to your gym. Traditionally in the fitness world, direct debits are used to charge for fitness classes or a membership fee. While these have a solid structure, they lack any flexibility for the customer. A fitness business centers around its members, so this lack of control is an issue. All these elements affect customer experience and can negatively impact customer retention. 

Being able to change the date of your payment and having more flexibility is very attractive to members. What if a person isn’t on a fixed monthly income, or gets paid at a different time of the month? Legacy payment providers would ignore this information, and the customer would have no control over the date of the payment. 

Automated Bill Handling 

Long gone are the days where you have to log data into a book or excel spreadsheet to track membership payments. When choosing your payment provider, automated bill handling should be a given. With a system in place to automatically take care and process monthly payments, you can safely and accurately keep on top of your finances. 

Monitor payments in real-time and quickly pull data in reports to track current and past payments. When you’re collecting monthly dues, this is a huge asset for your business. By automating the payment processing, you can ensure a level of accuracy and safety like never before. Most consumers have no to little patience when it comes to paying. Therefore the payment process needs to be frictionless with little effort required. This applies to monthly payments as well as one-off payments for classes.  

Fees and Hidden Costs    

Understanding the fees and any hidden costs for both you and your clients is crucial. Pricing should be very simple with complete transparency as well as being competitive amongst other payment providers. A payment solution may appear more cost-effective until you realize there are unexpected setup fees, ongoing monthly fees, and additional costs for international payments. 

Some payment providers have policies in place that mean they must charge a customer a late fee if the payment bounces. There may be money coming into their account, and they may want to change their payment date. But with rigid systems, this isn’t always possible. Charging fees and penalties to loyal members could result in members feeling unappreciated and in the worst-case scenario, canceling their club membership.  

Restrictions  

As well as fees and hidden costs, it’s also important to consider any restrictions in place. All payment providers are slightly different; some may integrate well with gym management software while others may provide a decentralized approach to payments. Restrictions could include the type of payments that will be accepted, where customers can make payments, and how easy it is to make payments. 

The payment solution you choose should be extremely user and business-friendly — an easy-to-use solution without restrictions and no hidden fees. Dashboards and online tools should be simple for you to use as a business owner as well on the customer side. An integrated and streamlined dashboard means you’re not wasting time using a confusing interface. It will improve your member’s experience when processing payments too. 

Multiple Payment Options 

YouGov and GoCardless surveyed 12,785 people across Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to find out about their payment preferences in 2019. The report shows how drastically payment preferences can change across cultural and technological landscapes. Some key insights include:

  • Approximately 40% of Germans don’t like using credit cards
  • North Americans and Americans love credit cards, and it’s their preferred method of paying for traditional payments like a gym membership 
  • Consumers are demanding alternatives to credit and debit cards 

These key takeaways show how essential multiple payment options are. When it comes to your members, everyone is different and has their own preferences about how they want to pay. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a payment solution, which is something to keep in mind when choosing a payment provider. By understanding your members, you can provide payment options that they will utilize and prefer.   

In Summary 

To stay competitive and succeed, a gym needs to focus on their entire member’s experience, including the payment process. By integrating your payment solution with your gym management software, you can streamline your business management and admin into just one place. Armed with the right information, you can implement the best solution for your business, improve member engagement, and drive retention.  

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