5 Spring Cleaning Tips to Accelerate Membership Business Efficiency

Because it’s Spring, many of you are thinking of ways to cut clutter in your homes and businesses. For your Martial Arts or Fitness business, Spring cleaning involves more than just dusting off old filing cabinets. You need to make improvements to your organizational system that will benefit your business all year long.

Here are some quick tips for eliminating clutter and getting your business running efficiently:


1. Put Your Class Schedule Online

Switching to online scheduling will benefit you and your members. Most people would prefer to get information on your classes from their smartphones. Not to mention, you’ll save yourself a bundle in printing, especially if your schedule changes frequently.

So, how do you get your schedule online? The process is actually pretty simple for business owners using our member management software. Member Manager includes a scheduling widget that allows you to publish your events, classes and training schedules directly to your website.

Schedules are easy to keep up to date too. Say you have to add or cancel a class – just go into the software, adjust your schedule and changes made are instantly reflected on your website.

2. Take Your Event Registrations Online

Spring is a great time to host events but is your registration process holding you back from doing more? If you’re juggling paper registration forms, printed liability waivers and permission slips, odds are, you’re wasting time deciphering illegible handwriting on paper forms and re-entering information into spreadsheets. Not to mention, you’re likely missing out on sign-ups for your events by not marketing them online.

Try putting event registration forms online to streamline the process and get the word out quickly about your events. Use an online registration tool like Event Manager to convert your paper form into an online registration page. Capture any information you need through the registration process – age, experience level, t-shirt size, etc. – and view your registration data any time.

3. Turn Older Inventory into Freebies for Event Registrants

Take a look at your inventory to see what hasn’t been moving. Maybe you have leftover T-shirts or another giveaway from a previous marketing campaign or event. To use them up, you can offer these items as free gifts to people who register for your next event.

Everybody likes getting free stuff, and you can use the gift to incentivize early registration. Announcing that you’re giving the freebie to the first (x amount of) sign-ups creates urgency and provides extra motivation to register. Plus, you can get rid of that box of T-shirts you forgot you had.

4. Have Members Sign Contracts with their Finger

Going paperless is a great way to de-clutter. Thanks to a recent enhancement to Member Manager, you can now go paperless with your membership contracts. Simply have your members sign with their finger or stylus on a phone, tablet or other touchscreen device. The completed contract, along with the signature, will be saved to your myVolo account.

5. Take Time to Organize as You Go

Ever find yourself wondering how you got into this mess in the first place? Spring cleaning would be a lot easier if you had a solid organizational system you could use all year.

As entrepreneurs and managers, you need tools to help you run your business efficiently. Our Member Manager software is a great solution for managing all your routine admin tasks from one place. With this one piece of software, you can capture, track and manage leads, send emails and text messages to members to keep them in the know, have members book online in real-time, sell products and services online 24/7 and more. Not to mention, you can also integrate Member Manager with other systems – like our full-service billing and payment process solution.

Now’s the time to simplify, de-clutter and get organized. Once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to run and grow your Martial Arts or Fitness business.

For more information on Member Manager or Event Manager, contact the Training and Support team at 877.600.3811 or support@membersolutions.com.


About the author: Justin Bodamer is the Manager of Implementation & Support for Member Solutions. The Implementation and Support team is dedicated to helping you and your team make the most of your relationship with Member Solutions. You can contact Justin at membersolutions@membersolutions.com.

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10 Ways to Boost Online Registrations (And Use Event Manager Software Like a Champ)

Woman using saved searches feature of Event Manager software to track registrations on laptop. Close view over shoulder of wooden desk with coffee.

The more registrations you get for your events, the more opportunity you create to grow your business, camp, sports league, or organization.

But how do you get the ball rolling? How do you get more registrations for your events?

Online registration software tools like Event Manager automate and organize event registration—and process and secure event payments. What you may not know is that the software also comes with a set of controls and features to drive demand and increase registrations.

Here’s a rundown of 10 ways to boost online event registrations and use Event Manager software like a champ.

1) Activate social media networking buttons on your registration pages.

Nothing is more powerful than a recommendation or endorsement from a friend or colleague. By activating the Twitter and Facebook buttons on your Event Manager registration pages, you make it easy for participants to share your event with others.

How to do it

Go to the Admin tab and check the box next to Display social networking links on your forms.

2) Add an event listing link to your website.

Event Manager includes a registration homepage—or event listing—of all your active and publicly available registration pages. Include it on your website to show everyone what’s going on at your facility.

How to do it

Go to the Admin tab. Copy the link under the Website Integration section. Add the link to a page, or multiple pages, on your website. Active events can be viewed in a list, calendar, and map format.

Online event registration form for fitness bootcamp with GetFit gym including banner image, branding, event description, and fields to collect registrant information. Shown on desktop computer.

3) Send emails to past participants.

Your past participants are likely to attend other events you hold. Sending an email about your upcoming event is the most direct way to communicate.

Start by selecting your email list in Event Manager. The list can be as broad or as specific as you’d like. Let’s say that you run an annual tournament. You can choose to include all past tournament participants in your list or just last year’s.

Once the list is pulled, an email to the group can be sent through Event Manager.

How to do it

Go to the Reporting tab. Select a form or forms, click the OK button, and then click the Update Registrant List button to generate the list.

Next, click the Email button. Write your email, and click the Send Email button as shown.

Screenshot showing email marketing features of event registration software on laptop

4) Use data to make decisions.

What do your past registrants have in common? Are there business opportunities you’re missing?

The Reporting tab in Event Manager gives you the option to select on event forms and custom fields — specific data that you’ve collected on registrants such as age, location, T-shirt size.

By diving deep into your data, you can identify trends and commonalities among your registrants. Then you can take the next step by sending targeted communications to those select groups.

How to do it

Go to the Reporting tab. Select your event forms and/or custom fields, click the OK button, and then click the Update Registrant List button. From there, you can either download the list as an Excel file or email the group directly from Event Manager.

5) Set early-bird pricing with an expiration date.

A savings incentive tied to an expiration date is a great way to generate early sign-ups.

How to do it

Select a form. Go to the Pricing tab. Click Yes next to Is your pricing based on registration date?

Enter the cutoff date. Then, enter the event registration fee before your cutoff date and the event registration fee on or after your cutoff date.

6) Set up and distribute promo codes.

Sending a promo code to a select group of prospective registrants promotes exclusivity and will ultimately increase event registrations. In Event Manager, you have the option of creating dollar and/or percentage discount codes that registrants can apply when signing up for your event.

How to do it

Select a form. Go to the Pricing tab. Check the box next to Enable promotional code discounts? Enter a code, and then enter a dollar or percentage discount as shown.

Discount pricing and promo codes for online event registration shown on tablet device

7) Set a seating capacity.

Scarcity increases demand and compels people to take action right away, rather than waiting. Put a limit on the number of spots available at your event—and communicate the limited availability in your marketing messages.

How to do it

Choose your event form in Event Manager. Go to the Advanced tab. Enter your seating limit next to Maximum form capacity. Once the limit is met, the registration form will close on its own.

8) Use the confirmation screen message and confirmation email to promote future events.

When an event registration is completed, a confirmation message appears on the screen, and a confirmation email is sent to the registrant. These are two ideal spots to highlight future events or membership specials.

How to do it

Select a form. Click on the Marketing tab. Click the Customize button next to Email Notification to update the confirmation email. Click the Customize button next to Registration Confirmation Screen to update the confirmation screen message.

9) Follow up on abandoned registrations.

You’re in the process of ordering a product online. Your phone rings. You get distracted. You don’t complete the order. It’s a common occurrence.

Event Manager gives you a tool to track pending and abandoned registrations so you can reach out to prospects and members sooner and turn them into event participants.

How to do it

Go to the Reporting tab. Select pending or abandoned in the Status dropdown box. Click the Update Registrant List button to generate the list.

10) Track what’s working so you can do more of it.

See a flurry of sign-ups once posting about your event on Facebook? Notice a group of registrations come in after sending your members an email?

Know the source. In Event Manager, you can add tracking code to the link to know from where each registration came and which marketing channels are working.

How to do it

Before adding your registration link to a Facebook post, an email or on the web, add &ref_id=UNIQUE SOURCE NAME to the end of your Event Manager registration link.

All registrations that come in from the link will be tagged accordingly with your source name in your Event Manager registration data.

Martial arts belt-testing online event registration form shown on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Events strengthen retention and generate leads.

Apply these tips when using Event Manager to get your event seats filled and create more growth opportunities for your business.

Essential Financial Terms Cheat Sheet for Business Owners

Finance Desk with Terms

Every business owner, manager, and director needs to understand the basics of finance in order to be successful. At some point, you will find yourself in a discussion in which certain financial slang will be used and it’s important for you to comprehend the language.

This article will simplify those sometimes puzzling, but need-to-know, financial terms. This will be a good first step in learning the common jargon used and what each term means.

A

Accounts Payable

The monies owed by your company to your vendors and suppliers. Accounts payable arise when you purchase something on credit and receive an invoice from the supplier. Examples would be an invoice for janitorial services or an invoice for one hundred new uniforms that you purchased for resale.

Accounts Receivables

The monies owed to the company by its customers. It’s an asset sometimes referred to as A/R or debtors. Accounts receivables are the result of selling goods or services to a customer on a non-cash (credit) basis in which the customer promises to pay at some point in the future.

Amortization

Spreading the costs of intangible assets over time rather than expensing them all at once. See the definition of intangible assets. Amortization is similar to depreciation which spreads the cost of tangible assets over time.

Assets

Things that the company owns such as cash, fixed assets, inventory, and accounts receivables.

B

Balance Sheet

A financial statement that shows assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. While a profit and loss (P&L) statement covers a specified period, (usually a month or year), a balance sheet is a statement as of a specific date such as December 31.

C

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

The cost associated with the goods sold during a given period.

Current Assets

Cash (and/or assets that are easily converted to cash) within one year of the balance sheet date. Cash, accounts receivables, short-term investments, and inventory are the best examples. Current assets are also known as liquid assets.

Current Liabilities

Liabilities of a company that are to be paid within one year of the balance sheet date. These include such things as accounts payable, wages payable, and loan payments due in the next twelve months.

Current Ratio

One of the measurements of a business’s financial strength. It is calculated as current assets divided by current liabilities. Current ratio is used to measure a company’s ability to pay back its liabilities due in the near future.

D

Depreciation

Allocating the cost of tangible fixed assets over the time period in which they are utilized. For example, you buy exercise equipment for your facility. Rather than expensing the full cost in the year of purchase, you would place them on your balance sheet as fixed assets and depreciate them over a number of years.

E

EBITDA

(pronounced “ee-bit-dah”)

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. This is net revenue minus operating expenses. EBITDA is also known as Operating Profit.

F

Fixed Assets

Non-current assets that a company uses to assist in the generation of income. Fixed assets are also known as Property, Plant & Equipment (PP&E). Examples of fixed assets include buildings, real estate, equipment, and furniture. These are tangible assets that benefit the company for periods of time greater than one year and are depreciated over their life.

G

Gross Sales

The total of all sales during a period of time prior to returns, discounts, and allowances.

Goodwill

Goodwill is a type of intangible asset. It only arises when a buyer purchases another business from a seller and the amount paid is greater than the fair market value of the tangible assets purchased. Goodwill is not amortized while other intangible assets are.

I

Intangible Assets

Assets that are not physical in nature. Examples of intangible assets include patents, copyrights, trademarks, customer lists, non-compete agreements, and franchise agreements.

The costs to acquire intangible assets are allocated to expense on the profit and loss (P&L) statement through amortization over the useful life or legal life of the asset, whichever is shorter.

L

Liabilities

Things that the company owes to others such as accounts payables, wages to workers, taxes to government agencies, and loans.

N

Net Assets

Total assets minus liabilities. Net assets is also known as owner’s equity.

Net Income (or Net Profit)

Operating Profit (EBITDA) minus interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Net Revenue (or Gross Profit)

Revenue minus the Cost of Goods Sold. An example of this would be when a family of three joins a Martial Arts studio. You sell three uniforms for $50 each and grant a $10 family discount. You bought the uniforms for $25 each. Your gross sales would be $150. Your net sales would be $140. Your cost of goods sold was $75, so that your net revenue is $65.

Net Sales (or Revenue)

Gross sales minus returns, discounts, and allowances.

O

Operating Expenses

The money a company spends in order to operate on a daily basis. Operating expenses may be labeled in categories such as:

  • General & Administrative (G&A): This category includes executive salaries, professional fees, rent, insurance, utilities, legal services, and office supplies.
  • Sales & Marketing (S&M): Costs to acquire your base of customers. Sales and marketing expenses include advertisements and lead generation.
  • Research & Development (R&D): The costs of activities used to develop new products, services, or knowledge. These costs are seen as investments in the future of the company.

Owner’s Equity

The difference between assets and liabilities. On every balance sheet assets equal liabilities plus owner’s equity. Owner’s equity is also known as net assets. It equals the owner’s investment in the business plus retained earnings. The owner’s investment is the net of any money the owner(s) put into or took out of the business. See definition for retained earnings below.

P

P&L

Profit and loss statement or income statement. The profit and loss statement shows the revenue and expenses for a company over a given time period. The time period is typically a month, a quarter, or a year.

R

Retained Earnings

The sum of all profits and losses since the business opened.

W

Working Capital

Working capital is similar to the current ratio as it is a measurement of the liquidity of your business. Working capital is calculated as current assets minus current liabilities. Working capital is measured as a dollar figure, while the current ratio is a percentage.

Take Charge(back): How to Handle Payment Disputes

Chargebacks Guy Calling Bank to Dispute Charges

“What do you mean they’re disputing the charge? They signed a contract!”

Chances are you’ve been in this circumstance before. One of your customers has contacted their bank to dispute a charge. It can seem like an invasion on your bank account, causing unneeded work and aggravation on your part to settle the situation. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize payment disputes. Let’s talk about payment disputes, why we get them, and how to prevent them.

Why Do Chargebacks Occur?

A chargeback occurs when a cardholder contacts their credit card-issuing bank and asks for a refund on a transaction for a purchase or service made on their card. There are a variety of reasons a customer will charge back a payment. Here are the most common:

  • The customer doesn’t recognize the charge
  • The customer claims that they cancelled services
  • The customer didn’t receive a credit
  • The customer claims fraudulent charges (stolen card)
  • The customer is unhappy with the service or purchase

It’s important to note that consumers have the right to charge back payment when they believe there has been fraud or a product has not been delivered as specified. The Fair Credit Billing Act defines the rules for credit card fraud and billing disputes here in the US. However, disliking a product or being unhappy with the merchant or product does not give the customer the right to charge back a payment through the bank.

Chargebacks are a great tool in the consumers’ hand. As a merchant, we give this power to the consumer when we don’t clearly state the return policy, cancellation policy, or identify ourselves to the customer—which brings us to some tips to prevent chargebacks.

Tips to Prevent Chargebacks from Happening in the First Place

Protecting yourself from chargebacks can be tricky. However, the best defense is the best offense. Put these best practices in place to prevent chargebacks from occurring:

  • Provide the customer with the name and phone number of your company so that they recognize your charge. This is the first reason you may receive a chargeback.
  • Have your return/cancellation policy clearly stated on the contract and on your website.
  • Provide accurate descriptions of your services.
  • Get authorization for your charges with a valid signature.
  • Keep your contracts and agreements updated.
  • Credit cards should always be valid. When possible, get a signature when customers update their cards.
  • Get a signed proof of delivery for products.
  • Talk to your customers to resolve issues before they talk to the bank. That personal touch can go a long way in dealing with and preventing chargebacks.

So You Received a Payment Dispute. Now What?

Chargebacks are unfortunately something every small business owner faces at one time or another. So let’s look at what to do when you receive one.

The lifecycle of a chargeback can start two different ways.

Retrieval

In the event that you receive an inquiry/dispute or “retrieval,” you still have a chance to avoid the chargeback. Disputes are most likely from a customer not recognizing the transaction on their credit card statement. In an ideal world, customers call the number that is associated with the transaction to determine the merchant, but in many cases, this does not happen.

Dispute

If you receive an inquiry, retrieval or dispute, immediately respond with a signed contract or agreement confirming the charge. In most dispute cases, the transaction is confirmed, the bank is satisfied, and no further action is needed.

Managed Billing Services by Member Solutions

How Does Your Billing Company Handle Chargebacks?

If you’re a Member Solutions billing client, we handle the chargebacks for you.

Here’s the process:

When we receive an online request from the credit card company, we look up the customer account to see if we have a contract on file. If we do, it is immediately sent to the credit card company with an explanation of who is billing the customer. If we don’t hear back from the credit card company, it means they accepted our documentation and the case is closed.

On some occasions, credit card companies ask for further documentation or clarification. We contact you, the merchant, if necessary. If these steps are not taken in a timely manner, the dispute will most likely become a chargeback.

If the customer claims the transaction is a fraud or that they canceled the services or product, the bank will issue an immediate chargeback with a chargeback fee of (in most cases) $25.

However, we, at Member Solutions, still respond immediately with an explanation of the charge and a signed authorized contract or agreement showing the valid transaction. It can take up to 45 days before we know if the bank will send a chargeback reversal. A chargeback reversal is when the bank agrees with our documentation and gives back the money.

There are, of course, instances of true fraud. In those cases, that money will be lost. We sometimes receive a chargeback reversal, and in another 45 days, the bank will send a second chargeback. This means the customer and/or bank has decided that the charge is invalid and that decision is final. We must then take the money from the merchant account. At that point, the case is closed.

This, of course, isn’t what any of us want to see happen. Your best action is to be clear with your customers about their contract and services—and keep in constant contact to make sure that the customers are satisfied.

What’s an ACH/EFT Chargeback?

It’s important to know that there is another kind of chargeback: an ACH/EFT chargeback. ACH/EFT stands for Automated Clearing House/Electronic Funds Transfer. Automated Clearing House is an electronic banking network used for direct deposit and electronic bill payment.

In the case of an ACH/EFT chargeback, the consumer notifies their bank that a payment initiated by a merchant is not authorized. In most cases of ACH disputes, Member Solutions receives a request from the bank telling us a customer is disputing their ACH/EFT payment from their checking or savings account.

What Happens When You Receive an ACH/EFT Chargeback?

The merchant has 14 days to respond with a signed contract or agreement stating that this payment is valid. The burden of proof is with the merchant to prove the customer signed an agreement authorizing them to debit the customer’s account.

Again, if you’re billing with Member Solutions, we send the bank a copy of the contract or agreement with the checking account or savings account information with a signature in hopes that the bank is satisfied with the proof we have provided.

In most cases, this will save a chargeback. If there is no proof sent in the 14 days, the payment will be charged back. This is just another reason for why it is important to establish that relationship with your customer.

Membership Agreement Contract

Make Sure Your Membership Agreements Contain Important Information

Your membership contracts or agreements should show the cardholder’s name, address, and phone number. It also needs clear contract terms and a concise cancellation/refund policy. Be sure you have an authorized cardholder signature—and at a minimum—the last four digits visible of the credit card number that is tied to the disputed charge. These things make a successful attempt at avoiding a chargeback.

As always, we’re here to help. If you would like more information about the chargeback process or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Member Solutions Client Services at 888.277.4407. We’re happy to assist you.

Good luck and strive to be chargeback free!

About the author: Ursula Carter is the Finance Manager at Member Solutions. Her experience includes an exclusive two-year focus on chargeback management, where she worked with credit card companies and individual merchants to prevent payment disputes and resolve chargebacks. As Finance Manager, Ursula assumes direct responsibility for the day-to-day billing operations, which includes ensuring the correct system functions for all billing-related processes, and working with appropriate personnel to correct system issues, client interaction, payments, and client funding.

Low-Cost Marketing for Martial Arts Schools

Low Cost Marketing - Martial Arts Class

Marketing your martial arts business is essential to survive and to grow, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make a big impact. Some of the best results I’ve received have come from low-cost marketing activities. Here are the activities that I’ve found to be most effective:

1. Booths

Get involved with your local Merchant Association or Chamber of Commerce. Set up a booth at festivals, fairs, and carnivals. Plan in advance and make your booth look attractive. Prize wheels draw people. Conduct a mini-intro where participants can earn their white belts. Make sure you are able to schedule appointments right away. We gained 95 leads at one event and scheduled 41 appointments.

2. Seminars

Get connected with local schools and youth organizations. Be known locally as a safety and defense professional. We conduct seminars on:

  • Bully defense
  • Abduction avoidance strategies
  • Goal-setting
  • Safety awareness
  • Empowerment and self-defense

If you establish a good rapport with your local schools, they’ll refer students to your Martial Arts school. In a year, we had a teacher recommend almost 20 students to our school.

3. Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA)

We have a very successful relationship with our local school’s PTSA. We created a special PTSA fundraiser: a six-week program of two classes a week with a uniform for a cost of $60. $35 goes to the PTSA and $25 to cover the uniform expense. The first time we held the fundraiser, we had about 71 students sign up. Now we average about 38 students that enroll in the six-week program. About 60-70% of those that enroll in the six-week program ultimately enroll in our six-month program.

Low Cost Marketing - Halloween Event Kids Carving Pumpkins

4. Community Events

Organize events such as an Easter Egg Hunt or a Halloween Haunted House. We market and promote these types of events as community events and focus on getting the community and non-students to come. There is an admission charge from $5 to $7.50 to cover our expense and create value. We have a booth to promote the school and make appointments for potential students to take the introductory program. We gain 30 to 40 leads on average. Our highest lead count was around 70.

5. Membership Referrals

Create a culture of referrals in your school. We offer $50 cash to students who refer another student who enrolls into the six-month program. We promote our referral program heavily within our school. On average, we enroll two to three new students a month through referrals. We run a special campaign once a year to promote our referral program. One of the prizes is an iPad.

6. Special Events

Special events are great activities to bring in more students. Create a themed training week and encourage students to invite their friends to attend. For example, for kids, you could hold a “bring your classmate” day and for adults, a “bring your co-worker” day. Here are some events we’ve organized before:

  • Awards Banquet
  • Family Fun Day at the Amusement Park
  • Ninja Warrior Day
  • Empowerment Day
  • Sumo Pizza Party
  • Laser Saber Action Party

We promote and encourage students to bring guests. Guests are required to sign a waiver form and provide a phone number and email address. To make it easy to collect contact information, we use an online registration software. These events are a great way to generate leads.

Now It’s Your Turn!

What low-cost marketing activities have helped generate leads for your business? Share below.

About the author: Master Kenny Kuek serves as Master Instructor and President of USA Masters Academy in New York. He has achieved an 8th Degree Black Belt and brings 40+ years of experience to the role. Master Kuek provides ideas, advice, and strategies to other school owners in the martial arts industry.

Why Your Gym Needs a Mobile App

Hands holding mobile device with MemberAssist app

With all the other technology and marketing you invest in for your fitness business, you’re probably wondering, why does my gym need a mobile app? Let’s start with the facts:

Based on these statistics, most people spend way more time in mobile apps on their phones than they do in any gym. With your own mobile app, you’ll be able to interact and create a stronger bond with your members, helping you increase loyalty and retention.

How does a mobile app improve your members’ experience?

A mobile app helps you retain members by offering them a convenient way to interact with your business, improving communication and creating a more personal experience.

Convenience Is Key

To keep your members coming back, you need to try to make it as easy as possible for them to visit your facility and use your services. A mobile app makes it simple for members to browse and book classes or appointments at any time. Most people already use their phones for scheduling and like the convenience of viewing their gym schedule there, too.

A mobile app can also simplify front desk check in by letting members scan a barcode on their phones – which means they don’t need membership cards. These added conveniences show members that you understand their on the go lifestyles.

Keep Them in the Loop

Keep your members up-to-date on what’s happening at your facility so they feel valued and involved. Send news, special offers and event information via push notifications or in-app announcements. Be sure to update them on closures and cancellations with a quick message to their phones.

Let Them Explore

More than anything, a mobile app lets your members experience your fitness services in their own way. Through an app, they can discover new classes, share workouts with their friends on social media, or check out an event they might like. By providing this tool, you’re inviting them to expand their relationship with your business in whatever way they choose.

A mobile app is a great way to provide a superior experience for your members that increases loyalty and keeps your members coming back for more.

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