Why Involuntary Attrition Is Killing Your Member Retention

"Why Involuntary Attrition Is Killing Your Member Retention." Woman training with ropes at gym.

When you’re losing the battle for member retention, it’s impossible to ignore. Complaints, poor attendance, and painful cancellations show a clear problem. But what about when content members disappear without notice?

While on the surface it seems like your member retention is rock solid, a silent killer may be lurking. Due to failed, expired, or delinquent credit cards, you may lose members without knowing to a phenomenon called involuntary attrition.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at involuntary attrition, its impact on your business, and how you can prevent these needless cancellations.

What is involuntary attrition?

Involuntary attrition occurs when memberships are automatically cancelled due to failed payments. On average, 15% of recurring credit card payments decline. Some industries experience more than a 30% decline rate. When these payments fail, they are rarely retried. The delinquency goes unnoticed and ultimately results in a lost customer.

Mobile Payment Swiping Credit Card

Causes of involuntary attrition

To fight involuntary attrition, you must understand and address each of its underlying causes.

Credit card expiration

Credit cards expire about every three years. That means that about one-third of your members will need updated payment information every year. If you don’t have a system for keeping credit card data up-to-date, you risk losing a significant amount of revenue and members.

Credit card declines

Credit cards can decline for over 130 reasons. The most common reasons for credit card decline include credit limits, suspected fraud, late payments, and deactivation. Even when consumers are notified of declines, they may not remember to update their payment information with your business. Relying on members alone to troubleshoot declines will result in missed payments and unwanted cancellations.

Delinquency

While most membership management software platforms offer robust and reliable recurring billing, many still lack the features to handle delinquent accounts properly. Most software will not automatically retry a payment after it is declined. Likewise, automatic payment reminders via email and text message can help to prevent missed payments—but they do little to correct the situation once an account is delinquent.

If ignored, delinquent accounts can turn into lost members. Software helps streamline membership payments. However, solving delinquency requires you to employ staff to review accounts and work with customers to resolve issues.

How involuntary member cancellations impact your business

Although other business challenges often overshadow involuntary attrition, it can do significant damage to your finances and member relationships.

Lost revenue

The most obvious result of involuntary attrition is lost revenue. With each needless cancellation, you lose money not only in the current month but every subsequent month that the member would have stayed.

Losing money in the first month stings, but losing money every month afterward crushes your bottom line. This long-term multiplier effect means you must replace the lost member with a new one if you want to make up for the missing income. This puts additional strain on your business because it requires more time and resources to obtain a new member than keep an existing one.

Damaged relationships

Generally, cancellations come from your least engaged and lowest-quality members. Involuntary attrition, on the other hand, can impact any member. For example, a member who attends regularly may come back from vacation to find that his or her membership was cancelled due to an expired credit card. In some cases, this member is locked out of the facility and unable to access their workout history and progress.

Of course, involuntary attrition may not be permanent. Your best members are more likely to notice the error and return to your facility. However, the experience is unpleasant and may damage your relationships. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to safeguard your relationships with members—especially your financial interactions with them.

A shrinking community

In some industries, involuntary attrition accounts for 20-40% of total attrition. This means that one out of every five cancellations is unnecessary and avoidable.

The loss of members has a compounding effect on your business. The smaller your community becomes, the less likely you are to benefit from word-of-mouth marketing and referrals.

Limited growth

If you’re constantly fighting attrition, it’s difficult to grow your net profit. The combined challenges of lost revenue, damaged relationships, and a shrinking community will limit your potential for growth in the short and long term.

Credit Card and Mobile Phone in hand

How to stop involuntary attrition

Despite its devastating impact, involuntary attrition is relatively easy to fix. Because these members (generally) want to stay a part of your community, you don’t have to change your service, facility, or staff.

To end involuntary cancellations, you need to make the billing process seamless and keep members’ payment methods up-to-date. Below are some of the strategies that we include in our managed billing service to reduce involuntary cancellations:

1) Update credit card information

Keep payment information current to avoid losing members to expired cards. Our team follows up immediately to get updated credit card information and to collect outstanding payments.

2) Communicate with members about missed payments

Catching overdue payments before they lead to involuntary attrition requires speed, skill, and determination. You need to follow up immediately, give customers multiple chances to resolve the issue, and phrase your request in the right way to make members act. At Member Solutions, we handle the scripts as well as reach out to your customers to resolve payment issues quickly and effectively.

3) Offer convenient payment methods

Often, members will proactively manage payments if given the opportunity. Our system allows members to make a payment or update payment methods 24/7 through an online payment portal or by phone.

4) Provide customer service for members’ billing needs

Your members’ needs are not limited to learning good fitness habits and training techniques. Maintaining a healthy financial relationship with members requires effort, too.

The customer service team at Member Solutions is trained to respond to the unique financial needs of your members. They practice responding to members’ concerns about contracts, personal financial challenges, and data security. The additional support strengthens relationships and makes members less likely to be lost to involuntary attrition.

5) Track overdue payments closely

Stay ahead of involuntary attrition by constantly tracking a list of delinquent accounts and past-due invoices. To make things easy, we track missing payments for you. All you need to do is check reports on collected payments, accounts receivable, and active members periodically.

Winning the war for member retention

Member retention is the key to your increased profitability and long-term growth. You can stop needless cancellation and build a strong community by learning to recognize the causes and signs of involuntary attrition. Through a payment recovery system and superior customer service, you can boost revenue and provide a better member experience.

Want to eliminate the threat of involuntary attrition? Get a demo of our managed billing services.

Make Email Newsletters Work for Your Fitness Business

Subscribe to newsletter on tablet screen with office objects on wooden desk.

Do you send an email newsletter for your business? If the answer is yes, great! You’ll see some great tips later on to get your email newsletters performing even better. If the answer is no, what’s the reasoning? You probably get a few in your inbox on a regular basis if you subscribe to industry updates. Does it remind you of clutter? Do you have a love/hate relationship with these emails?

Sure, opinions and feelings vary about the use of email newsletters, but the question you need to ask yourself is: “Is an email newsletter a good fit for my industry and business?”

If you’re a martial arts or fitness business, the answer is yes.

Why send an email newsletter to members and leads?

Email newsletters are a way for you to gather all the news, updates, and content during the past month in one place. You can’t expect prospects and members to look at your website or social media pages all the time.

An email newsletter is another way of engaging your connections. It directs readers to other places where they can engage with you and shows how you’re active in your community. For example, if you put on events or run membership promotions, newsletters should be a key component in your email marketing strategy.

In fact, if you send a newsletter, you’re more likely to see results elsewhere. Direct traffic drives value and leads. According to research done by Parse.ly, a data analytics company, The New York Times newsletter subscribers “consume twice as much content as those who don’t get newsletters, and they’re twice as likely to become paid subscribers.”

What makes an email newsletter effective?

1) Established goals and metrics

You’re not going to know what’s working if you haven’t decided what success looks like. What do you want from sending a newsletter? Answers could look like any of these or more, depending on your business goals:

    1. X% increased member attendance to classes or events
    2. Y% more referrals
    3. Z% increase in appointments or paid trials

2) Consistent frequency

Stick to what’s realistic for your business and time. This could be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or another frequency that works for you. The most important element of your newsletter frequency is to commit to it. Your readers will learn to expect your name in their inboxes. If you need to dial your frequency back, communicate your new frequency to your readers. Ghosting—or disappearing without notice—won’t go over well.

3) Subject lines

Email inboxes are harsh, competitive places, like a gladiator arena for a reader’s attention. Good subject lines get your foot in the door. They’re not a guarantee for readership, but getting someone to open your email already is an accomplishment. Make that first introduction count.

4) Valuable content

Any disgruntled comments that you hear about newsletters most likely come from readers not feeling satisfied about what they receive. The ideal ratio is 90 percent educational content to 10 percent promotional content. You want to make readers feel like your newsletter has added to their day, not subtracted from it. Test different kinds of content to see what your readers respond to the most. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.

5) Niche audience(s)

Your email newsletter isn’t for everyone, so don’t try to appeal to everyone. Be decisive about for whom the content is important. Members? Leads who came in for a trial membership but didn’t return? Segmenting email lists in an email marketing software (like iContact) makes it easy to send specific content to designated audiences.

6) Make it personal

Newsletters are for building relationships and community. These two pieces are crucial foundational elements to a successful business in martial arts and fitness. Using conversational tone, versus a formal one, will help you connect with your audience.

What do fitness businesses need to put in an email newsletter?

Remember, it’s always best to do more of what’s effective, even if that means including less content in your newsletter. Avoid focusing on your writing ability (make sure to check spelling and punctuation, of course) and instead focus on what provides value to your audience.

1) Recent blog articles

Distribution of your blog is important to drive traffic to your website. Again, part of why newsletters are effective is for that reason. Blogs don’t need to be unique all the time—you can cycle content so long as it’s relevant and valuable.

2) Member or student highlights

Orangetheory Fitness is a larger-scale example of a business that emphasizes community through member spotlights in its newsletters. Because we’re in industries that thrive through strong relationships, spotlights are an easy way to strengthen the relationships you already have and to market your community to prospective members.

Within martial arts, belt progressions or similar big moments for students are a must to feature in your school’s newsletter.

3) Current and upcoming events

It’s important to show your members and prospects that you have an active, thriving community at your business for retention and lead generation. When done well, you can ride the line between educational and promotional without sounding pushy. Make it attractive—not salesy.

4) Engaging, relevant videos

You don’t need high-production value videos to be successful or to reap their benefits. Videos continue to engage audiences, on average, more than other forms of content. The camera on your mobile phone is sufficient to record expert tips from you, quick breakdowns of proper form, or glimpses into how great your community is.

5) Industry or community news

Is something big happening in the world of fitness or martial arts that would interest your readers? Write a short summary about the news, why it’s important, and link to the original source.

6) Social media and website links

Encourage your readers to continue to see updates elsewhere on your social media profiles, blog, and website. Include phrases like, “Follow us on Facebook to see more” and link any social media buttons within your newsletter template.

How to create an email newsletter with email marketing software

1) Pick an email marketing software

One that integrates with your member management software makes it really easy. Member Solutions’ software integrates with iContact, which is easy to use and doesn’t require coding/HTML experience.

2) Choose a template

Choose a template that is appropriate for your audience. Make it clean. More elaborate designs don’t make emails more effective.

3) Insert content

Have a couple consistent sections. It’s okay to experiment with what content works best.  A/B testing, like what iContact has, works really well to find out. A/B testing is when you test two different subject lines, call-to-action buttons/links, or content pieces to figure out what your readers like the most. It’s a data-driven way to find out what your audience wants.

4) Choose a subject line

Make it conversational and attention grabbing. Attention spans in email inboxes run thin. Make your subject line count. Keep it under 40 characters.

Making newsletters a part of your email marketing strategy

Newsletters continue to be an important part of engaging your community and attracting non-members to join. As you’re creating the best email newsletter strategy for your needs, remember these three key points:

  • Create your newsletter for your specific audience. It’s not your job to appeal to everyone.
  • Valuable content drives member loyalty and new leads.
  • Make email newsletters easy and professional with email marketing software.

 

10 Ways To Increase Gym Revenue Without Selling More Memberships

Closeup over shoulder of woman looking at financial report of gym revenue on tablet device

Most gym owners drive business growth in two ways: by finding new members and by keeping the members they already have. While marketing and retention are great for growing your community, they represent only a fraction of the ways to increase gym revenue. By shifting your focus to maximizing every available revenue stream, you can uncover ways to improve your earnings overnight.

Consider how your pricing, service offerings, and operations impact your bottom line. Imagine being able to capture every payment reliably; selling memberships at a fair price that reflects the value of your services; and members who are engaged and enthusiastic about your brand.

In this ideal scenario, your business captures the maximum amount of revenue from every member. You can relax while your gym rakes in profits from multiple revenue streams. No more struggling to attract more and more new members each month with expensive and complicated marketing campaigns.

Realize the full potential of your business by using these 10 methods to increase gym revenue:

 

1. Reduce payment declines

According to publications released by major credit card issuers, 15% of recurring credit card payments decline. For some industries, the decline rate can reach as high as 30%.

To put this in perspective, if you have 100 members paying $50/month, you’d expect to receive $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. However, credit card declines will cost you $750 to $1,500 per month. That’s $9,000 to $18,000 in lost revenue each year.

Credit card declines can prevent loyal members from paying what they know you deserve. These payments weren’t lost to poor customer service, low-quality classes, or high prices. These losses are completely out of your control—that is, until you put a process in place to avoid payment declines.

Use a combination of technology and customer service processes to recover declined payments and add back revenue to your bottom line. Choose a software solution that offers payment reminders and automatic retries after failed payments. While you can hire staff to collect declined payments from your members, third-party companies offer the most cost-effective service solutions. Well-trained managed billing professionals can increase recurring revenue by up to 25% for a minimal fee.

 

2. Raise your prices

Are you charging what your services are worth? Many gym owners panic at the thought of raising prices because they immediately envision a mass exodus of even their most loyal members. In reality, a carefully calculated price increase will improve your gym’s financial health and profitability with little impact on member retention.

Consider the following scenario: Your gym has 100 members each paying $50/month. You plan to implement a modest 5% price increase of $2.50/month per member. Given the new price of $52.50/month, you expect to keep 95 of your existing members. Following the price increase, you’ll earn an extra $2,850 per year.

No clever marketing tricks or slick sales pitch required. Your simple price change has increased your revenue all on its own.

To keep member attrition to a minimum, communicate your new pricing appropriately. Give members plenty of notice. Explain why the change is necessary to continue the high-quality services that they value from you.

 

3. Use paid trials

Most gyms offers free trial memberships or guest passes to prospective members. These freebies pay off when they result in new members, but sometimes you end up spending money to support non-paying guests who never return.

Paid trials help to secure a return on your investment. Payees are more serious about keeping initial appointments. They’re more invested in learning about your gym, understanding your value, and building relationships with your staff.

Consider using a combination of free and paid trials in a way that makes sense for your business. For instance, you might offer a free trial of your basic gym access, but a paid trial for your premium classes or training sessions.

 

4. Offer premium memberships

Do you offer tiered membership options and pricing? If not, it’s time to start. Rather than forcing your members into a one-size-fits-all model, structure pricing options around their needs and preferences.

If you’ve tracked purchases and attendance in your membership management software, you can use reports to investigate spending patterns and identify popular services. For example, your members may fall into three categories:

Once you’ve categorized your members and set your pricing model, you can send targeted promotions to each group to entice them to upgrade their membership package.

 

5. Sell retail items

Do you know how often members get to the gym only to realize they’ve forgotten something that will prevent them from working out? Stock essentials like earbuds, water bottles, and socks in your retail store to make sure members can get what they need.

If you’ve built a loyal following, invest in branded merchandise. Use an online service to print your logo on t-shirts, hats, yoga mats, bags, and more. A beautiful, eye-catching design goes a long way, so if you’re not confident in your logo or layout, try an online graphic design service.

 

6. Book private training sessions and lessons

Almost all fitness businesses offer one-on-one sessions, and most of them wish they could book more of these money-making services. The trick to maximizing this revenue stream is a combination of staff training and communication with existing members.

Market your private sessions to members using low-cost, easy-to-use communication channels. Put signs throughout your facility, post on social media, and send emails with special offers. Your goal is for every member to know that you offer private sessions.

From there, leverage your staff’s relationships with members to close the deal. Teach instructors to observe members’ behaviors and to discuss goals with them. An instructor may notice a member who puts forth great effort and attends regularly, but her technique holds her back. With a bit of coaching the member could excel. In seizing this opportunity, you’ll help a member meet her fitness goals more quickly and open a new revenue stream for your business.

 

7. Childcare

If lots of parents visit your gym, you may want to consider adding childcare services at your facility. A busy mom or dad who doesn’t want to give up gym time will gladly pay extra to know their child is happy, safe, and nearby during a workout.

Before introducing childcare services, be sure to review the legal requirements for your staff, facility, and business. While these services can bring in a significant amount of additional revenue, you’ll need to plan carefully to make sure you’re able to provide high-quality care.

 

8. Host events and workshops

Members love workshops, boot camps, and fitness challenges because they help them stay motivated and reach goals more quickly. These paid events provide a lump sum that has an immediate positive impact on cash flow.

To make the most of this revenue stream, think strategically about the needs of your business and members. Review the calendar for times when an event could provide extra cash during a seasonal downturn. Add events to help members meet a common goal, like staying fit through the holiday season.

Need some fresh ideas? Browse this event list to get started.

 

9. Nutrition and health coaching

According to IHRSA’s senior research manager Melissa Rodrigues, 25% of fitness club revenue comes from ancillary services. Your members aren’t just looking for a place to work out. They’re looking for all kinds of services to help them stay healthy, fit, and confident.

Most members would be happy to pay extra for services to help them eat better, make healthy choices, and track their fitness progress. These services will make your bottom line happy as well. By adding health coaching or consulting, you can increase the amount of revenue generated by each member.

 

10. Sell advertising

Looking for an out-of-the-box way to increase gym revenue? Try selling advertising space in your facility or email newsletters to local businesses. If you’ve done a good job building your membership base, you’ll have a fitness-conscious audience that’s attractive to an array of advertisers. Create a list of local grocery stores, specialty shops, salons, spas, venues, and restaurants who might be interested in your new advertising opportunity.

 

Go beyond marketing and retention to increase gym revenue through alternative revenue streams, new services, and operational efficiencies. In doing so, you’ll allow members to strengthen their relationships with you, giving your gym its greatest potential for growth.

8 Fun & Easy Holiday Event Ideas

Here in Philadelphia, the fall weather is finally settling in with cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and Eagles football. What may not come to mind immediately is that it also is the perfect season to plan your holiday events in advance.

Depending on the complexity of your event, it may take weeks to several months to coordinate with sponsors, create marketing collateral, and to secure permission from venues outside of your martial arts school or fitness facility.

Holiday and winter events are great for bringing your local community together and as an easy go-to for padding your bottom line. We’ve created a list of both classic and novel ideas to help you start thinking about what you can plan in the coming months. Have fun with it!

1) Make Your Own Ugly Sweater Fundraiser, Party, & Contest

ugly sweater
Have contestants enter a make-your-own ugly sweater contest for a charitable cause in your community. Set ticket prices to raise money for your non-profit or charity. Make sure that you put aside funds for a fun prize. Have snacks and drinks available and space for people to socialize.

2) Winter Chili Cook-off & Festival

chili bowl

Cold temperatures bring out cravings for comfort food. While National Chili Day is on February 23, give chili another day of recognition for being one of the most popular winter dishes.

Decide how many cookoff entries you’ll allow for the day. Have attendees pay an entrance fee and encourage them to vote on their favorite chilis. Include hot beverages like cocoa, cider, coffee, and tea for purchase. Tally your votes and declare your winner with a prize. A chili cook-off is an event your community will enjoy year after year.

3) Dress Your Dog Up Like a Reindeer Contest & Party

dog in reindeer costume

The marketability of dogs is undeniable. If you need a reminder, check the internet. Pet lovers and owners get the chance to unite in this pet-friendly event. Create a fundraiser to support your local animal welfare organizations and shelters with a holiday celebration that includes pets. Attendees can either dress up their dogs for fun or enter the contest with volunteer judges to select the winner.

4) Gingerbread House Contest & Craft Fair

gingerbread house

A holiday crafts festival is great for a whole family activity—plus, gingerbread houses are a classic tradition. Depending on your available space, it’s an event that you can plan to have in-house or at a local community center.

Ask local artists to participate as judges and vendors. Charge an entry fee per person or per family to cover the cost of supplies. Better yet, partner with a community sponsor—like an art store or local grocer—for the items that you need.

5) New Year’s Eve or Day Party

new year party

Celebrate the New Year with a themed party for families or adults only. Using a theme with decorations—or a featured activity—will help your event stand out among other community events happening at the same time. If you’re aiming to cater to the 21+ crowd, collaborate with a bar that has event space and sell tickets for a New Year’s Eve party.

Make sure you have projection screens that will show the New Year’s countdown live from NYC or show one of your own. If you want something more family-friendly, plan your event for the morning or afternoon of January 1st with games, snacks, drinks, and music.

6) Valentine’s Day Prom for Adults

prom night

If you have an adult martial arts class or have group fitness classes, a Valentine’s Day-themed prom night for adults is the perfect cheesy throwback. It can also result in a great turnout for any charitable cause. Pick a dress code (themed or standard formal dress), a DJ, and a venue space with drinks.

7) Breakfast with Santa

santa pankcakes

Get kids excited for Christmas with a Santa breakfast, and use Member Solution’s online registration to have parents reserve seats for their families. Serve holiday-inspired pancakes, fruit, veggies, bacon, eggs, and other breakfast favorites.

8) Holiday Fun Runs

A staple classic! Have runners dress like Santa, reindeer, Christmas trees, and other silly costumes. It’s a great family-friendly event for all ages.

7 Ways to Handle Late Member Payments

Mobile invoice for member payment on cell phone

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 member relationships

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.

3 Ways to Use Social Media Contests for Member Engagement

hand holding mobile device with social media icons

You may be sick of hearing how social media has a significant impact on your outreach, but having an online presence outside of your website is not negotiable for your business’s current member engagement and lead generation. Running social media platform-specific contests, in addition to sharing student highlights and news, gives prospects an easy way to get an insider’s glimpse.

Use these three social spaces for your contest campaigns.

1. Facebook: The Community Builder

The basics: Facebook should be the foundation of your social media strategy. As you know, the multi-faceted platform has capacities for public and private groups, invitations, messaging, and more. Because Facebook is a dynamic community space, it may take time to build an audience if you don’t already have one. On the other hand, this versatility makes Facebook the perfect environment for social media contests.

Keep that dynamic element in mind when designing a Facebook giveaway that meets your business’s goals. Avoid running a contest that is overly complex and deterring participants. Set a timeframe with rules for your contest and stick to it—no exceptions. Examples include:

  • photo caption contests,
  • page likes contests, and
  • post sharing contests.

Level up: Use paid posts and ads to reach a larger audience.

2. Twitter: Be the Buzz Through Mirco-Messaging

The basics: Twitter is a more competitive social space that needs timeliness, relevancy, and frequency for success. It can be difficult to reach an audience due to these factors, but if you have a strong base of followers, you’ll see results.

Giveaways are particularly easy due to retweets, or Twitter’s re-blogging feature. An easy example of a Twitter contest is:

  • The first five people to retweet will receive a prize of your choice (pick something that is relevant to your marketing goals).

Level up: Reach out to your friends, family, and professional connections for retweets and mentions. Paid Twitter ads also are an option.

3. Instagram: Interactive Photo Sharing

The basics: The fitness and martial arts industries have a strong presence on Instagram. The visual element and the more personable feel of the platform are great for persuasive messaging—which makes Instagram our favorite place for social media contests. Common contests on Instagram include:

  • photo captions and
  • having contestants tag friends in the comments section.

Level up: Use “non-designer” graphic design tools like Canva to create your own images. Make sure you brand everything you create with your gym’s or martial art school’s name in case someone shares what you post. Because paid posts on Facebook integrate with Instagram, you have the option to run any contest promotions concurrently on two platforms.

Already social savvy and want more strategy? Take it a step further into forum spaces like Reddit. Being a regular contributor to threads relating to your discipline will help you network with others for additional ideas.

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

5 Ways to Boost Member Retention with a Mobile App

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 PresenterHugh 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

Guest Post: The Health of Your Gym

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.

Guest Post: Improve Your Website Ranking with Video Marketing

Improve Your Website Ranking with Video Marketing - hand scrolling through martial arts website on tablet device

How to Utilize Videos to Your Advantage on Your Website

Did you know that implementing video marketing on your website will help improve your search rankings?

That’s right! Since Google owns YouTube, all you have to do is have a video hosted on YouTube and embedded on your website. This increases the likelihood of your website ranking higher and improved conversion rates. Here are some tips on how to add high-quality video content to your website to boost your rankings and conversion rates.

Focus on the Details!

Having your video perfectly filmed and edited is awesome, but the best way to get more views and to help your SEO optimization is to focus on those keywords when you upload the clip to YouTube. This means utilizing keywords in your video title and description.

Your video should have a brief title (making it easily searchable), letting your description provide more details (using those keywords to generate relevant searches).

Use Quality Keywords

When adding a title and tags to your video, are you using terms that are clear, defining and searchable?

Be sure to pay attention to the words you use in your titles – with back-linking and embedding, they will boost your website pages by having great titles and tags. You can always try out new keywords and even use https://trends.google.com/trends/ as a tool to help you word things in a better way.

Think About Your Audience

If you’re planning on creating a new video to promote your fitness or martial arts business, try to incorporate something that will both grab the attention of the viewer and encourage them to share it on social media. The more shareable your content, the more views you have and ultimately, you end up with more opportunities to send viewers back to your website/lead box.

For more information or help utilizing videos on your 97Display website, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your incredible support team!

Author: Kelsey Condon. Originally posted on 97display.com.