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The dream of opening your own gym is getting closer every day. You’re writing your business plan, scouring letting agents for premises and finessing your marketing strategy.

And of course, you’re finalising your financials.

Your research has probably led you to look at Direct Debit options for gym businesses. You’ve snubbed Standing Orders, discounted debit cards and cast aside credit cards as viable payment methods.

Instead, you’re thinking that outsourcing the job of collecting regular payments from customers to a Direct Debit provider such as FastPay will be the best solution. Efficient, flexible, reliable and secure, it ticks every box for your new venture.

But where do you start and what does the process involve?

This step-by-step guide will show you how to set up Direct Debit for business and get you ready to accept recurring payments within just 24 hours.

Step 1: Understanding What a Direct Debit Bureau Does

If you’re new to entrepreneurship, you’d possibly never heard of Direct Debit bureaux before you started your research.

direct debit for small business

Here’s what you need to know.

Traditionally, only large corporations with a high turnover could access a Direct Debit scheme to collect regular client payments. This meant the door was shut for sole traders and SMEs who had to rely on less efficient methods such as Standing Orders, cash or cheques.

But now, Direct Debit for small businesses is possible thanks to providers like FastPay. They’re approved by Bacs, the operators of Direct Debit, to carry out collections on your behalf.

They’ll take care of everything for you from providing branded forms called mandates for your customers to complete, to daily reports of your account’s activity which keep you fully in-the-know.

For a small set-up fee and low transaction charges, they’ll take away the hassle of managing multiple payment methods, replacing it with one straightforward way to collect fees to help you streamline your systems and stabilise your cashflow.

A Direct Debit bureau usually offers two options: a bureau service for corporate businesses with their own Service User Number from a bank (see more about SUNs below) and a managed service for SMEs, charities and organisations who can’t get their own SUN.

As a gym owner, FastPay’s Managed Service will be the best option for you. Direct Debit for business will offer you a simple payment solution to collect recurring membership fees.

Step 2: Select your Direct Debit Provider

Google ‘Direct Debit companies’ and you’ll be greeted by a selection of bureaux eager to persuade you to pick up the phone and sign-up.

How do you choose between them all and how do you know which one will be the best fit for your gym? Using this handy checklist to compare providers will help you reach the right decision:

  • Can you read about their trading history, credentials and reputation?
  • Do they offer initial advice about which service is right for you?
  • Do they pledge to provide exceptional customer service?
  • How much are their set-up fees and ongoing costs?
  • How quickly can you be up and running?
  • What level of ongoing technical support do they include?
  • What reporting processes do they use?
  • Can you integrate your software with theirs?
  • Can they provide professional documentation including your gym business’ branding?

Once you’ve chosen your preferred supplier, they’ll be able to offer you expert advice about Direct Debit options for gym businesses and explain the process in detail. Some, like FastPay, can even get you up and running within 24 hours.

Step 3: Get A Service User Number

A Service User Number (SUN) is a unique code given to each organisation which collects money via Direct Debit.

Bacs, the clearing service for Direct Debit, uses SUNs as a form of ID to record all corresponding transactions. It’s also used by banks to look up the name of each company so they can be included on the payers’ bank statements.

When you sign up to FastPay’s Managed Service, they’ll give you an SUN which will allow you to start collecting payments from your clients straightaway. FastPay use unique SUNs for each Managed Service client, meaning that your gym’s name and logo, rather than the impersonal name of your bureau, will appear on all documents.

Step 4: Collect Direct Debit Instructions

The next stage is to collect Direct Debit Instructions (DDIs) from each of your clients and forward them to your bureau.

All they need to do is complete a DDI, either online, over the phone or on a paper mandate, which authorises you to collect payments from them.

If you’re not sure what information you need to get, FastPay can steer you through the process and supply branded Bacs-approved web forms, phone scripts and paper mandates to make the job even easier.

Once you’ve passed on your customers’ details, your bureau will manage the submission of all payment data to Bacs and the money will arrive in your account as soon as it’s cleared.

Your customers will soon be enjoying peace of mind, convenience, flexibility and control over their budget: a more efficient service for them and you.

Step 5: Move Your Gym Plans into Fifth Gear

Direct Debit options for gym businesses

With certainty in place about how you’ll be collecting and managing membership fees from your clients, you can focus on other aspects of your plans.

There’ll be no need to set aside time to deal with late payments, cancelled Standing Orders or bounced cheques. Instead, you can commit to spending more hours on the gym floor with your clients rather than hunched over an accounts spreadsheet.

Direct Debit for small businesses means that everything will be taken care of for you as the experts at FastPay process payments, liaise with Bacs and keep you up-to-date.

And if there are any problems, you’ll be quickly alerted via regular, automated reports so you can take action immediately. These will reassure you that fees have been paid and highlight any issues such as unexpected cancellations or bounces.

Direct Debit for Business will bring weighty benefits to you and your gym’s members. They’ll have the reassurance that their fees are being paid accurately and on time while you’ll enjoy the predictability of your cashflow.

Put simply, when looking at Direct Debit options for gym businesses, using a bureau like FastPay is an exercise in financial efficiency you can’t afford to miss out on.

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