7 Ways to Handle Late Member Payments

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Asking your students for money is never easy. When a member of your martial arts school doesn’t pay on time, it’s tempting to let the delinquency slide to avoid confrontation. But you run a business. You deserve to be paid for the valuable services you provide. Still, how can you ask for late payments without sounding cold or impersonal? These seven tips will help you navigate how to collect and prevent late member payments:

1. Automate member payments

Automating credit card and ACH payments through your member management system is an easy way to prevent late payments. Talk to your members about switching to one of these methods if you notice them struggling to pay on time. Be sure to highlight the added convenience of auto-payments and address any concerns about data security.

2. Set expectations with new students

Review key points of your membership contracts with new students and families. Make sure students or parents sign off on payment amounts, due dates, and the membership duration. Be honest and open about your expectations for on-time payments. Just like your members expect consistent, high-quality martial arts instruction from you, you will expect prompt, full payments from them.

3. Charge fees for late payments

If late payments are a chronic problem for your martial arts school, you might decide to add late fees to your contract. Some gyms and martial arts schools charge late fees of $5 to $25 per overdue payment. For some individuals, the extra incentive will motivate them to stay on top of payments.

Before deciding to use late fees at your school, consider how this will impact your relationships. Ask yourself how new members will react to hearing about late fees before they’re even a part of your community. In the end, you’ll have to determine the best balance to protect your business without harming your relationships.

4. Send email reminders

You probably already use your martial arts software to automatically remind your members about upcoming payments and due dates. Hopefully, these reminders help prevent late payments before they occur.

Once invoices become past-due, you can use another type of email reminder to collect late payments. Create a short series email scripts to ask for late payments. Be polite but direct. Make sure to clarify any consequences of late payments, including interest fees or deactivation of the membership.

5. Make a phone call

Because phone calls are more difficult to ignore than emails, they’re particularly effective for collecting late payments. Be friendly but firm on the phone. Clearly and calmly explain the details of the past-due invoice and ask for the payment in full. While on the phone, you may uncover new information about your member’s situation that reveals the true reason for late payment. Use these insights to find a long-term solution to help you and your member avoid future missed payments.

6. Be kind, not argumentative

Your students are only human. They make mistakes. They forget to update expired credit card information or to check their bank account before payments are due. There are hundreds of reasons students miss payments. Avoiding financial disputes is crucial to maintaining a strong, long-lasting relationship. Before jumping to conclusions, see if a friendly reminder is all that is needed.

In some cases, your student may be dealing with a difficult or complex situation that has impacted their finances. Use good judgement to come to an agreement that’s fair and mutually beneficial to you and your member. It may make sense to be flexible or forgiving in order to preserve your relationship and retain your member.

7. Call in an expert

Collecting late payments is complex and challenging. To truly be successful, you’ll need to dedicate resources to make sure someone is responsible for follow up and collections. If you handle this follow up in-house, make sure to incorporate this task into one of your job roles so it does not become an afterthought for one of your busy employees. You can also outsource payment collection to a team of managed billing professionals to bypass the awkward conversations and eliminate the complicated follow up process.

If you follow the steps above, you’ll see your overdue invoices decrease while your relationships with your students improve. In the long run, the combination of these two factors is what will keep your martial arts school financially stable and successful.

Have you tried these tips? How do you encourage students to pay on time? Tell us your thoughts below.

How to Avoid Financial Disputes with Your Gym Members

Member-owner relationships are a bit like marriages. You work hard to cultivate strong, long-lasting bonds. You do all you can to show you care and provide what your member needs. Despite that effort, you can still find yourself dealing with absences, arguments, and painful breakups caused by disagreements about money. Among married couples, financial disputes are the second leading cause of divorce. Likewise, uncomfortable conversations about missed payments can make members feel like your gym is not the right place for them. To avoid losing members, put a plan in place to prevent financial disputes and strengthen your relationships.

What can you do to avoid financial disputes with your members?

At Member Solutions, we have over 25 years of experience providing billing services and collecting member payments. Think of us as a financial counselor who wants to help alleviate some the strains money puts on your member relationships.

Follow these 5 tips to avoid financial disputes and keep your billing practices running smoothly:

1) Talk about your billing policies

Clear billing policies allow you and your members to stay on the same page. Put yourself in your members’ shoes. Would you enjoy surprise charges to your credit card? While surprises can be fun, financial surprises can damage your relationships.

Create a membership welcome packet that clearly details what your members can expect financially. Address the when and how of payment processing, late fees, cancellation policies, payments dates, and how members will be notified if fees change.

2) Be flexible when members have money problems

Eventually, one of your members will show up to your gym after months of racking up an unpaid balance and overdue fees. They’ll say they had no idea it was happening. They’ll ask you why you didn’t remind them and possibly tell you they can’t afford to pay.

While it’s important to enforce your policies, sometimes it’s important to find a middle ground. Ask yourself, “What’s best for my long term relationship with this member?”

Sometimes it’s in your best interest to give a member a break. You may decide to waive fees or set up a payment plan to get a member caught up. When you make an exception, let them know that you’re doing it because they are a valued, long-term member. Explain that your policies are in place because newer members—who don’t have strong relationships like yours—might try to avoid paying.

This method has a variety of benefits:

  1. You were likely going to receive no payment. Now that you have made an exception, you are likely to receive some compensation.
  2. You increase the odds that this member pays on time going forward.
  3. If this member is leaving, it’s more likely that he or she will return to your gym.
  4. The likelihood that member talks highly of your gym will increase.

Every gym owner is unique and has different opinions on this situation. All we recommend is that you consider the value of each customer on an individual basis.

3) Automate member payments and billing

Automated billing services virtually take you out of the dues collection process at your gym. All you have to do is set up client accounts, due dates, and payment amounts. Voilà! Your clients’ accounts will be billed automatically.

What does this mean for you? It means that you no longer have to directly collect member payments. This saves time on administrative tasks and reduces strain on relationships with your members.

4) Offer secure online payment processing

The convenience of online payments has obvious appeal for both businesses and members. However, when it comes to online payments, choosing a service with maximum security is critical. The last thing you want is for your or your members’ financial information to be compromised.

Choose a Level 1 PCI compliant provider to protect your business. Providers that follow these data security standards offer the highest level of protection against credit card fraud.

5) Enlist a professional team to bill your members

In addition to damaging relationships, tracking down member payments is confusing and time-consuming. Pursuing missing payments can take up to 10 hours every week. That’s time you could spend with your members, growing your business, or relaxing with friends and family.

Outsourcing to an affordable managed billing service that specializes in tracking down delinquent accounts can reduce stress and help preserve relationships. Billing professionals have an in-depth understanding of the payment processing business and are better able to troubleshoot issues with failed credit card payments or delinquency. In fact, members are more likely to settle monetary issues with a billing company than a gym owner.

If you decide to collaborate with a third-party billing provider, choose a team that will uphold your policies while still offering flexibility to your members. A good billing company will be able to advise you on when to make exceptions for members who are having trouble paying.

Overcome financial disputes to strengthen relationships with your members

Financial disputes are one of the main reasons relationships end—whether it’s between spouses, business partners, or band members who pursue disappointing solo careers. To beat the odds, you need to be proactive. Talk to your members about your expectations regarding payments. Be open to a financial partnership with your members. If you decide to partner with a billing company, choose a team with the same commitment to customer service and fairness that you do.

How do you manage the financial aspects of your member relationships? Share your comments below.

Why Community Service Matters for Martial Arts Schools

Through contributing and giving back, we are able to continue to grow our martial arts business. As a byproduct of serving our community, we also have the ability to maximize the exposure of our school.

Since opening our school in 1994, we have been actively involved in our community and remain heavily connected to several local organizations. By doing so, we have developed a reputation of being a reliable business and one that many organizations call on often for support.

Here are 3 ways we are involved in our community:

1. Chamber of Commerce

Through business to business networking, we are able to build relationships that help create opportunities to market our school. This is also a great way to maximize brand recognition within your community. Other local businesses will begin to refer you to their customers and friends.

2. Donate to Schools

We are always looking for opportunities to donate to school auctions, raffles and award ceremonies. These donations can be used for school fundraisers or as incentives for various school programs. By donating and giving first, you may also create the opportunity to speak in the classrooms.

3. Local Sports Organizations

Sponsoring youth athletic leagues, teams or clubs can be a great way to show your community support and introduce you to a brand new audience. Many youth organizations host opening and or closing ceremonies and tournaments, which may provide an opportunity to set up a booth, distribute marketing materials, and more.

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”

-Winston Churchill

By getting more involved with your community, you will not only create a positive impact on those you serve, you will also build a solid reputation with local residents and fellow business owners.

About the author: Jason Flame is a 7th Degree Black Belt in American Tang Soo Do and owner of Tang Soo Do University in Moorpark, CA. He has also served as a MAIA Elite consultant since 2010. Jason is an active member of his community and serves on the Board of Directors for several local organizations. As an active community member, he attributes the success of his business to understanding the importance of giving back to those in his community.

[Webinar] 5 Ways to Boost Member Retention with a Mobile App

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. PT)

The more engaged your members are, the more likely they are to stick to their fitness routine and with your business. Unfortunately, many fitness clubs struggle to maximize member retention. So how do you build stronger relationships that drive loyalty, member retention, and results? Our partner, MiGym, has worked with hundreds of fitness clubs to create personalized member app experiences. Clubs with mobile apps benefit from increased class attendance, strengthened relationships, lower attrition, and increased revenue. After reviewing results from clients, MiGym identified five ways that any fitness business—large or small—can use a mobile app to grow profits and improve member retention. In this webinar, you’ll learn the five ways fitness clubs can engage their member base through a custom mobile app. You’ll see a live demonstration of how you can use these techniques to cultivate stronger bonds with your members. You’ll learn how to:

  • Use push notifications and announcements during the holiday season and the New Year’s fitness rush
  • Increase member convenience through a simplified check-in and booking process
  • Gain a competitive advantage in 2018 by adding a mobile app to your business plan and marketing campaigns
  • And more!

Bonus: Attend the live webinar to get a sample holiday push notification and announcement to drive member retention, engagement, and revenue.

Meet Our Presenter

Hugh McEvoy, General Manager, MiGym

Hugh McEvoy has over nine years of experience providing software solutions to the fitness industry for member retention, marketing, and business management. As the General Manager at MiGym, Hugh partners with businesses of all sizes to conquer challenges and to achieve results.

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Guest Post: The Health of Your Gym

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Warning: This is going to be a hard read if you’re eating.

It’s a bit ironic that facilities for our health can pose bacterial harm if not properly cleaned. Although places like gyms are not number one on the list of highly germ populated public locations, they can be one of the most common areas to contract bacteria.

Nobody wants to think about all these microscopic germs and particles that coexist among us, but to have a healthy fitness center inside and out, you must be properly equipped with both the knowledge, products and —oh your facility is well cleaned? Excellent! Now, how much do you spread that information around? It’s very well worth turning a quick spotlight on the cleanliness of your facility. Especially when the USA ranks number 28 out of the 188 healthiest nations despite being one of the most health data indulgent countries in the world.

So it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to remind the public you care about the shape of your gym right? Right! Here’s how to take advantage of a hygienic presence.

Provide Easy Access For Sanitation

You sneeze and there’s no tissue in sight. Here’s a worse situation. You sneeze into a tissue and there’s no trash container nearby! Avoid these minor inconveniences by providing disposable soaps, hand wipes or nonalcoholic hand sanitizers and easily accessible waste bins throughout your facility so your clients don’t have to interrupt their workout for long. They don’t have to be every two feet but a good presence of complementary products will give members a good impression of cleanliness in association with your business identity.

Establish With Your Members That You Have a Cleaning Schedule

Whenever that time for the full scrub overhaul of your facility comes around—that’s the chance to show off your results. Take a picture of your pristine facility and post it online. You could even incorporate fitness into the mix because who say’s scrubbing an entire building isn’t a workout? Or that just the act of cleaning is the only sign of a healthy gym?

Share pictures of upgrades, new installations, or even a photo of yourself arriving early! Fresh products, an active mind, and up to date materials express not just a business but a business owner who knows when to make the right decision.

Signs & Reminders

One of the most common of contagions caught at facilities of mobility is skin infection. (Gross I know, but stay with me.) The reasons for these skin infections are due to the unfortunate contact with deposits of leftover sweat on shared exercise equipment and or materials. (How are you doing? Good! We’re going get through this!) The best way this can be avoided is reminders such as: “Always Wash Hands After A Workout”, “Shower after A Swim Please” and “Remember Scandals On While Showering”.

Have any of these signs in your gym? Personalize them a bit, maybe station yourself in front of it for a quick selfie on social media. The more human involvement the better. Just no sweat!

Show That You’re a Good Example

The image of the business owner and staff is everything. Clean clothes, clean hair, etc. We’re not suggesting to have your staff share their selfies all over your social media but rather to have them included within photos of otherwise stagnant objects. Set up a new flyer? Have one of your staff smiling on the side or even holding the sign. There are numerous ways to apply human engagement and interactions to health and safety measures.

One way to ensure you have someone on the floor making it happen is by setting a reminder in our fitness center software. Set up a task for the staff member of your choice so there’s no confusion on whose job it is to post selfies with the clients!

Author: Claire Scro, Marketing Specialist.

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Everybody’s Business: Understanding, Recognizing, & Responding to Bullying

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Many of us have heard others say that bullying is “just a fact of life” or “no big deal” or “you are not alone!” Too often, people do not take bullying seriously until the sad and sometimes scary stories are revealed; like the mass retribution shootings we are seeing more frequently across North America. Or the increasing numbers of teen suicides that involve cyberbullying, like that of 15-year-old Coquitlum, BC Canada resident, Amanda Todd.

Many studies show that bullying can have negative effects on a child’s development and their future. But the problem is much deeper and more widespread than we have been led to believe.

In a child’s world bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground, and once every 25 minutes in the classroom. Reports show that 30 to 40% of children with aggression problems grow up to continue with violence as adults. As they grow older, bullies may transfer their abuse of power on the playground to other forms of harassment, violence or abuse. Bullying changes its form with age:

  • Children’s playground bullying often involves pushing, shoving, name calling, teasing and isolation.
  • Teenage bullying may begin to include cyberbullying, sexual harassment, gang attacks and dating violence.
  • Adult bullying may become assaults, marital violence, child abuse, workplace harassment and senior abuse.

In order to curtail bullying, one needs to also address what has instigated it.

A Learned Behavior

Childhood bullies are kids that have usually been exposed to some type of negativity that prevents them from functioning in a positive way. They have often been traumatized by someone else. In many cases, it is someone they look up to like an older sibling, a parent, a sport’s coach or a teacher. Bullying is their way of venting their own frustrations or fears.

Young people who bully are more likely to smoke, drink, skip school, get into fights, vandalize property and drop out of school. A recent study in the USA shows that 60% of boys who were bullies in middle school had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24. Still many bullies continue to use their tactics into adulthood without legal ramification. Victims may include people under their authority or control like subordinate staff, spouses and children.

Scars for Life

Victims of childhood bullying are typically unhappy children who suffer from fear, anxiety and low self-esteem. They may try to avoid school or social interaction in an effort to escape it. Some victims of bullying are so distressed that they develop eating disorders, substance abuse and commit, or attempt to commit, suicide. Several instances of suicide by boys, who had been severely bullied in Norway in the early 1980s, moved that country to begin a nationwide anti-bullying program.

Bullying is not gender specific. Young women face an increasing number of challenges which can produce low self-esteem. At early ages it can start with bullying, and as they enter their teen years it transforms to verbal, physical, cyber and in some cases sexual abuse. In a 1993 study, it was reported that 60% of girls who were bullied were bullied only by boys, while another 15-20% were bullied by both boys and girls. Today many news headlines include reports of swarming by groups of girls. None so close to home as the Rena Virk tragedy.

In almost all cases of bullying and abuse, the bully or predator will single out a victim who is weaker and possesses a low level of self-esteem. More time and effort is needed to help children and adults become more aware of themselves, increase their level of confidence and to learn how to defend themselves on a number of levels. But this is only the beginning. In order to stop bullying, we need to also address the source.

Creating a Bully-Free Community

Children are afraid to speak out about bullies and their acts. Some common reasons could be threats made by the bully or discounting the urgency by an adult. Because of this, adults need to take a proactive role in identifying and curtailing bullying activities wherever possible. If you suspect that your child may be a victim of bullying, or perhaps is the person doing the bullying, there are immediate steps that you can take to help them deal with this terrible childhood trauma.

Like any epidemic, one cannot keep applying Band-Aids to the wound. Eventually one has to venture to the source of the infection. In the case of bullying, the source is adults and parents who are usually too busy or stressed to deal with their own anxieties or fears. In order to create a bully-free community, government, police forces, educational bodies and the media need to work together to:

1) Accept the fact that bullying is a growing epidemic and major cause of illness and crime in our society
2) Educate the public on the existence and drastic effects of bullying
3) Provide educational opportunities for children and adults who would be typical targets of bullying
4) Identify weaknesses in our legal systems that allow bullying to exist
5) Pass laws that force adults in authoritative positions to develop approaches and behaviors that prevent bullying from taking place, and nurtures positive growth in our children and citizens
6) Be prepared to enforce anti-bullying laws. Only by taking these steps will we be able to curtail this unacceptable behavior.

About the author: Ken Marchtaler was born in Vancouver, Canada. He has studied and taught Martial Arts for more than 20 years. His group of companies, Marchtaler Group, includes two Martial Arts studios in Victoria, Canada, as well as a number of programs developed for the Martial Arts community including Little Warriors®, 30 Minute Warrior® and the concept of Martial Wellness®. Ken recently appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX networks: Health & Wellness Today TV Show Full Interview with Dr. John Spencer Ellis.

16 Retention Tips & Tools for Your Martial Arts Kids Classes

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Client Question: Could you provide some in-the-classroom retention tips that work for your school?

At Combined Martial Arts Academy, we implement several techniques and tools within our Kids Martial Arts programs. The tips I’ll provide here are used within our Little Dragons Program (3 to 6 year-olds) and in our Beginners Program (6 to 10 year-olds).

  • Age-specific classes – All students are grouped in their respective age group. This is important as it helps with learning and stops bullying. Grouping by age group also builds up confidence and increases the student’s self-esteem.
  • Achievable curriculums – We set a grading curriculum that is achievable for the student’s age.
  • Break it into four – Each class is broken down into four stages. This helps with students’ concentration as they are not repeating the same thing over and over again for 45 minutes.
  • Disguise repetition – Changing the order, instructors and equipment enhances and disguises the repetition of learning.
  • Use students’ names at least 3 to 4 times throughout the class – This shows the students that you care about them. I believe this is one of the most important things in student retention.
  • Special Events – We continually host special events throughout the year. This allows students to show their friends and parents how well they are doing.
  • Take photos and give out awards – We take a photo whenever a student makes an achievement, such as white belt. We also present an award. The award says: “a black belt is a white belt that never quits.” We present the award to the student in front of their peers in the class.
  • Stickers – A constant reinforcement and recognition of the hard work and dedication to training.
  • Training certificates – 3 to 4 are handed out in each class.
  • Monthly attendance awards – These awards are handed out to students who have not missed any classes for the month.
  • Shihan’s Super Star Award – This award is given monthly to a student in each division for their effort in school, at home and in class. The student also receives a special badge that is put on their gi.
  • Birthday cards – Cards are mailed to each student and they get to wear a black belt for their class. Photos are provided of them wearing a black belt.
  • Report cards – Done on a quarterly basis.
  • Get well soon and miss you cards – These are sent on a weekly basis to connect with the students so they are not away for too long.
  • Pizza party – Students who bring the most awards from school receive a pizza party. This encourages students to not only do well in Martial Arts class, but also other activities, including school.
  • Free birthday parties – All children under the age of 10 can sign up for a free birthday party. We include details of this in our information packet.

Consistency and persistence breeds results. These 16 retention tips need to be consistently carried out every month if you want drop-outs to stop. At Combined Martial Arts Academy, we try to be as consistent as possible with these retention efforts. I meet with my management and office staff every third Monday to remind them of these systems and to make sure they are comfortable and using the techniques. Every two weeks I have an instructors meeting and training as well to check to see if they are implementing these systems.

Bill Wakefield is one of Australia’s pioneers of growth and success in the Martial Arts industry, www.c-m-a.com.au. He is a well-known and prominent speaker on the subject of Martial Arts business, as well as a Member Solutions Advisory Team Member.

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4 Ways to Build Solid Customer Relationships in Your Fitness Business

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Are you focusing as much energy on your current members as you are with your new ones?

Having engaged, happy customers not only helps make your business more successful, but it also makes your job worth going to every day. When you open your doors on day one, it’s pretty easy to remember the important details of your first clients’ lives; birthdays, family events, career successes. As with any relationship, these are the details that form strong bonds and create customers that will stay with you for a long time.

As your member base grows, it becomes increasingly more difficult to have enough time in the day for those meaningful conversations—it’s not that you don’t want to, but if you spent even just five minutes a day with 200 members, that wouldn’t leave you with time to do much else. It is, of course, still vital to engage your customers. As with so many parts of your business, having systems in place helps to ensure that your customers know how important they are to you should be a key part of your operations.

1) Technology

Most modern technology is geared towards one thing: convenience. In this case, let technology do the work for you. If you have only a few short moments with one of your members, would you rather spend that time collecting an overdue payment or asking them how their weekend was? Assuming you answered the latter, letting your members know that they can make payments online will help you to forego the often times awkward conversation you need to have about their tardy payment.

If you have an event or class that for which they need to register, let them know that they can register from the convenience of their home. Don’t make them stand at your front desk signing forms and writing checks when you could be asking them about their goals or soliciting their feedback.

2) Go Above & Beyond

What may seem like a little thing to you may alter the entire scope of somebody else’s day. You never know how an email to one of your customers may brighten their mood. Because it would be nearly impossible to manually send an email to each and every current and former member you’ve ever known, have a system in place to do it for you.

At a minimum, make sure you’re collecting birthday information and setting an email to be automatically sent on the right day. Remember, every email you send doesn’t necessarily have to contain information about upcoming events or sales. Sometimes a simple “Happy Birthday!” will go a lot further for your business.

3) Connect on the Phone

Of course, not everything can be an email or text message. Speaking to your customers directly, even over the phone, can help cement the relationship you’ve built. If you’re worried you may be missing someone, set yourself a reminder. Assign an ongoing task for someone on your staff to do touch base calls. Most importantly, don’t wait until the member hasn’t been there for a while; engagement is proactive, not reactive.

4) Hold Member Appreciation Events

Everyone wants to grow their member base. Holding “Bring a Friend” events is an effective and often times lucrative way to hit that goal. Remember, though, you can’t grow your member base without doing your best to keep the current roster engaged and happy.

Holding member appreciation events can do just that. Host a free event in which your only expense is your time (a special group class) and only invite your current customers. Some may argue that the value gained from these events can even far exceed the cost of an event you pay for out-of-pocket, such as hiring a special speaker or trainer.

Before and after the event, give them the chance to mingle with each other. Take the opportunity to talk to them on a personal level. Cultivate a community within your business. If you host these events regularly, not only will your relationship with your customers improve but your customers’ relationships with each other will improve, too.

As always, Member Solutions is invested in your success. We offer a variety of tools that can help you systemize important aspects of your business so that you can focus on what you do best. If you’d like to learn more about how you can make the most of these tools, don’t hesitate to contact the Training and Support team at 877.600.3811 or support@membersolutions.com to schedule a training session today.

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

Killer Customer Service: 5 Quick Tips for Your Fitness Business

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Upon entering a sushi or Japanese restaurant, you may be greeted by the chefs with the expression, Irasshaimase, which means Welcome, please come in. It is one of the reasons I love going out for sushi, and I eat a lot of it.

Whether you’re a personal trainer, a fitness club operator, or a yoga studio manager, you want to create that same special feeling when people enter your business’s door or even walk into a class that is being taught.

The policy at our personal training studio is very simple: Every trainer greets everyone. They do not pass a client without saying hello. If the client is leaving, they say goodbye. These greetings and salutations go a long way to making our clients feel at home in our gym, which is exactly the feeling we strive for.

The easiest way to provide killer customer service in your fitness business is to do more for your members.

Here are five quick and simple ways to amp up your customer service:

1. Offer Towel Service—Provide clients with workout towels and shower towels so they do not need to carry around a wet towel all day in their gym bag. If you do not have access to laundry services, you can brand the towels with your business logo and use the towels as promotions by giving them to new clients as a welcome gift. The towels will serve as additional advertising should your clients visit another gym.

2. Provide Online Appointment Scheduling—Your clients deserve quick access to your schedules so they can make changes and book the sessions that they want, when they want them. The great thing with using fitness software like Member Manager is that frees up your time from answering the phone or emailing people back and forth to book appointments. Online scheduling will end appointment errors (no more double-bookings), and keep your clients happy and in charge of their scheduling.

3. Run Internal Events and Contests—Contests and events can be easy to put together and fun for your clients and trainers. Track the number of steps and reward those that hit 10,000 steps a day, or use the elliptical and stair climbers to track against the elevation of mountains like Everest or Fuji. Internal competitions, contests, and events will keep your clients engaged and your trainers focused.

4. Host an Online Store—This is another double-purpose service offering, one that clients love and that you can use to generate more revenue for your fitness business. Sell your memberships, personal training sessions, your fitness gear, and even your events through an online store. Add your affiliate’s websites to this same store to generate even more revenue for your fitness business.

5. Spa-Up Your Bathrooms —Your clients are busy and need to get ready for a day of work or a night out. Provide soaps, shampoos, and accessories to transform your change room into a spa-like space. If you do this right, you can also sell these same products to your members by setting up distributor agreements with suppliers.

When you deliver superior customer service like this, you can use it as a competitive advantage to contend with other fitness gyms and studios, to justify your price points, and to promote additional revenue streams, all while making your existing clients raving fans of your fitness facility.

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How to Respond to Membership Contract Complaints

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A written billing agreement―otherwise known as a membership contract—is a standard business document used by many membership-based businesses. Every day, martial arts schools, fitness clubs, yoga and Pilates studios, and MMA gyms establish agreements with their members. The membership business offers classes, lessons, equipment, and/or training in exchange for payment from the member. Through the membership contract, the member agrees to use services provided by the business and pay for them at an agreed price under certain terms and conditions.

Sounds clear-cut, right? Unfortunately, issues surrounding membership contracts arise, and those issues can be anything but clear-cut. Members often oppose the terms of the signed billing agreement, stating, “That is not what I was told when I joined.” Membership contract complaints turn into a ‘contract dispute’ and can then escalate to a formal consumer complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and/or the State Attorney General.

Formal complaints issued through the BBB and/or State Attorney General aren’t to be taken lightly. Here are 6 tips you should consider before responding to these complaints:

  1. Make sure you fully understand the membership contract complaint before you respond. Angry customers tend to throw everything they can into a formal complaint in order to prove their case. Before you formulate your response, find the customer’s proposed resolution. Once you know of the requested resolution, you can better address the complaint.
  2. Keep your personal feelings out of it. Your anger or disappointment has no place in a formal response letter. Many local BBBs post responses online for others to review. State the facts only.
  3. Back up your responses with documentation, e.g. a written billing agreement or cancellation form. Be sure to black out any bank account or credit card numbers if they are included in your documentation.
  4. Keep copies of the complaint and your responses. If the issue is not resolved with the first correspondence, you may receive a rebuttal complaint. Having a copy of the first letter helps in responding to the second letter.
  5. If you do not agree with the customer’s suggested resolution, offer an alternative. This displays your willingness to compromise and end the dispute on amicable terms.
  6. Whether the consumer complaint is filed with the BBB or the State Attorney General, it is very important to respond by the suggested deadline date. This is especially true of Attorney General complaints. The Attorney General has the power to investigate further and can prosecute if it finds wrong-doing. Your best bet with Attorney General disputes is to find a way to resolve them as quickly as possible.

As I’ve mentioned before, your ability to resolve the membership conflict complaints is an extremely important part of keeping your business successful and your business reputation protected. Often times it is best to find a resolution that works for both parties.

For additional guidance, read my post on how to properly handle member cancellations.

About the author: Margo Stauffer has extensive experience in managing customer service teams in several industries, including eight years in the health and fitness area serving franchisees throughout the world.

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