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Customer loyalty should be at the top of your priorities as a gym business owner. As Harvard Business Review highlights:

“Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to twenty-five times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”

This is true: securing new customers is a drain on your time and resources; much more so than nurturing those who are loyal. So, in order to persuade your gym members to renew with a twelve month contract, you need to think of innovative ways to earn that loyalty.

How your customers pay for their membership is a huge part of the puzzle. Slow and convoluted payment methods repel gym goers; going to the gym is effort enough, they shouldn't have to work hard to pay for a class. So how can you make collecting payments effortless for your dedicated members?

The solution is simple: use a Direct Debit scheme. Learn why this is the best gym billing software available, how it can drastically improve your customer loyalty, and the benefits you can reap for your business.

How Does a Direct Debit System Work?

To understand how a Direct Debit system works, it helps to know the major differences between Standing Orders and Direct Debit:

Standing Order

  • A customer sets up a Standing Order.
  • It’s a fixed amount paid at regular intervals.
  • A customer can stop or change a Standing Order without notifying you.

Direct Debit

  • You decide how often and how much you collect from customers.
  • Once you’ve informed the customer in advance you can change the amount and frequency of collections.
  • If a Direct Debit is cancelled or bounced, you’ll be notified within 24 hours.

A Direct Debit solution is the best billing software for a gym because you control the automation of payments, requiring little intervention from the customer.

It can also be very easy and quick to set up. Take a bureau like FastPay, for example. It only takes six simple steps to process your collections with their Managed Service.

Step 1: FastPay will brand you a personalised Service User Number (SUN). This ensures your company name will appear on your customers’ bank statements alongside your collections.

Step 2: Your customers complete a Direct Debit Mandate form online, over the phone or via a paper mandate.

Step 3: You send this information to FastPay, including how much and when your customers’ account should be debited.

Step 4: FastPay prepares and submits those details to Bacs for collection and your customers’ account is debited.

Step 5: The amount is credited to a Client Trust Account held in your name.

Step 6: Once the funds have cleared, FastPay transfers the money into your account.

FastPay minimises your involvement throughout the payment process, keeping you informed at all times.

The benefits for you as a gym business owner are clear: control over your cash-flow, accessibility, ease of use, and speed.

There are also significant perks for your customers which help to increase brand loyalty.

Why a Direct Debit Solution Can Max Out Customer Retention

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1. Focus on excellent customer service

We’ve established how easy it is to set up a Direct Debit scheme using your gym billing software and how that equals less admin time.This is a huge gain: you get to dedicate more time to improving customer experience.

A study by Defaqto found that 55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience. This means that the happier your gym members are, the more loyal they are to your brand, driving forward business profitability through renewed memberships, reduced costs and recommendations.

There are plenty of opportunities to enhance the customer experience at your gym. You could focus on staff training so your clients always receive the best fitness advice. You could cross-sell branded products such as towels, water bottles and gym kits at reception. You could even set up an app to allow members to book classes instantly.

Whatever you choose, the extra effort you’ve made to go above and beyond is an excellent way to elevate customer satisfaction.

2. Optimise the speed and ease of taking payment

Providing your credit card details to someone over the phone is both energy-sapping and error-prone.

Using your gym billing software alongside FastPay’s services makes it easy to collect funds for classes and gym membership fees. Customers only have to complete a Direct Debit mandate, either online, over the phone or on paper when they sign up. All that’s left is for you to pass those details on to FastPay. That’s it. No repeated calls or online checkouts to frustrate your paying customers.

Again, the result is a positive customer experience, helping you gain loyalty over competitors who complicate their payment processes.

3. Guarantee secure payment

Direct Debit is the most secure form of online payment available. It protects you against fraud as collections must be authorised by means of a Direct Debit Instruction, and customers are always given notice about the amount and date of payment required in advance.

Central to this security is the Direct Debit Guarantee. As the Direct Debit website illuminates:

“Organisations using the Direct Debit Scheme go through a careful vetting process before they're authorised, and are closely monitored by the banking industry. [...] It protects [the customer] in the rare event that there is an error in the payment of your Direct Debit.”

So, in the event of a payment error, customers can expect a refund immediately. Highlighting these safeguards to your clients establishes trust and also gives customer loyalty a major boost.

4. Swiftly resolve payment problems

Alongside the security offered by the Direct Debit Guarantee, regular reports from FastPay will quickly alert you if a payment bounces or is cancelled. You get an immediate notification enabling you to fix the problem professionally and with minimum fuss..

These reports, delivered direct to your inbox, leave a helpful audit trail to make accounts reconciliation a breeze.

This system tells your gym members that while FastPay is processing payments on your behalf, your organisation is in control in the event of bounced payments or cancelled DDI’s. This simultaneously reinforces your authority and demonstrates your efficiency as a business. The pay-off for customer loyalty is that customers are confident you’re on top of things, giving them further cause to trust your brand.

5. More leeway to offer rewards

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Using Direct Debit billing software for a gym is a powerful way to improve cashflow, especially when we compare it to other payment methods like Standing Orders.

Using a modern service like FastPay, you’re in control of incoming payments in a way that isn’t time consuming. Recurring payments, which are essential to the health of your cashflow, only need to be authorised once and are automatic. You also don’t have to spend time chasing payments or doing additional admin to manage your income.

With that extra time and income to spare, you have more room to offer exciting rewards and discounts for customer loyalty. Here are some loyalty-enhancing ideas to consider:

  • Loyalty card schemes (e.g. ten stamps for a free energy drink).
  • Associated discounts (e.g. gym wear).
  • Rewards for referrals and introductions (eg. when a customer recommends your gym to a friend).
  • Free trials for news classes.
  • Exclusive invites to special events

Stack Up Your Customer Loyalty With Direct Debit

It’s kind to your cashflow, easy on your time, and excellent for your customer loyalty. Using billing software for a gym and a Direct Debit scheme operated by a bureau like FastPay will get your fitness centre ahead of the competition.

Gym billing software is as beneficial for your business as a personal trainer is to a member. Here’s exactly what you gain when you use this service:

1. More time to deliver excellent customer service

2.Fast and easy payments

3. Secure payments, guaranteed

4. Fast resolution of payment problems

5. Opportunity to offer loyalty rewards

And if you ever lose sight of your goal, remember these words from John G. Sanchez, CEO of Digital Marketing Agency, Zunch: “Building enduring, profitable, growing brands is all about creating, nurturing, defending and strengthening loyal brand relationships.”

Free Resource Download!  Direct Debit: A Beginners Guide  Here we'll explain how to use Direct Debit to manage your  business' regular payments in a simple and easy to understand guide. Download your free copy