Opening a gym business was the first foray into entrepreneurship for the owners of outdoor gym company Parkfit.
Director Gail Harrison admits to being “overwhelmed” by what was involved in setting up a new business, especially when it came to collecting payment from their customers.
“Having never set up a business before, there was so much to learn,” she said. “What was fundamental to us was providing an excellent service and collecting clients’ payment efficiently.
“If we could get those two things right, we hoped that everything else would fall into place.”
Six years on and Parkfit submit nearly 500 Direct Debits every month to FastPay, their Direct Debit partner who take care of the scheme on their behalf.
And now Gail can’t imagine how she would run her business without them. She said: “I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend FastPay to anyone. Their customer service is faultless as is the financial service they provide. If only everyone we dealt with were as efficient as FastPay.”
Why Choose Direct Debit?
When opening a gym business, one of the many considerations is how your clients will pay for your services.
As many gym memberships are based on an annual contract, collecting payments on a regular monthly basis is essential to avoid burdening clients with a high initial outlay.
For Gail, she knew from the start that the only option to achieve this was Direct Debit.
The alternatives didn’t get a look-in: Standing Orders would be too inflexible, credit card payments would require time-consuming admin work, and cash or cheques would be far too unreliable.
As a start-up, Parkfit weren’t able to collect Direct Debits themselves through their bank: this facility is reserved for large corporates with a high turnover.
Instead, as part of her research into the cost of opening a gym, she “apprehensively” began the hunt for a company who could help.
Gail approached several Direct Debit bureaux who could manage a scheme for her and solve her payment predicament. She chose FastPay.
Gail said: “What drew me to FastPay was their efficient responses to all my questions and their simple, easy-to-understand collection service.
“For someone like me, understanding the process was essential. They passed this element of my selection process with flying colours due to the excellent literature they provided and their user-friendly website.
“But the deciding factor for me in selecting them was their extremely quick and helpful responses to all my questions - there were, and have been, quite a few!
“Anyone in business knows that you can’t afford to wait two or three days for an answer. I find that their door is always open and if I need another copy of something or can’t find a report they’ve sent, they send it over again without hesitation.
How Direct Debit Makes It Easy
When assessing the cost of opening a small gym, you need to gather as much information as possible for your business plan. Armed with the facts, you can approach potential funding partners and make more accurate financial forecasts.
Your Direct Debit bureau will provide you with a full fee structure to help you predict your profits and plan your cash flow. With FastPay, you’ll be paying as little as 10p per transaction.
The cost of outsourcing your collection process will be far outweighed by the wide-ranging benefits that Direct Debit can bring. From improved cash flow to reduced admin time, its positive influence will spread throughout your business.
When opening a gym business, the last thing you need is confused cash flow. When clients pay their membership fees via Direct Debit, you’ll receive the expected amount on the expected day. And if a payment fails, you’re quickly notified so that the issue can be addressed and your cash flow isn’t compromised.
If you opt for a different payment method, you could end up spending hours chasing unpaid fees – an admin headache you and your team really don’t need.
Collecting by Direct Debit will prevent memberships lapsing due to non-payment and eliminate awkward client conversations about money: it’s a simple way to boost client retention.
For Gail and the Parkfit team, Direct Debit’s flexibility is invaluable. In the fickle gym market, they’re continually making changes to their collections by removing payers and submitting new payers.
Doing this is a straightforward, hassle-free task: inform FastPay of the changes and they’ll do the rest. Provided you inform your customers, you can amend payment amounts, dates and frequencies to best suit your business needs.
You can further streamline your membership fee collection process by integrating your software with your bureau’s. This eliminates the need for manual reconciliation and the risk of data entry errors. You can also integrate as much or as little as you like, using powerful APIs and platforms such as Xero and Sage.
These technologies allow funds to flow seamlessly through the system, reducing admin time and giving you a real-time cash overview for increased efficiency.
And it’s not just your gym business that will feel the benefits. By setting up a simple, convenient Direct Debit with you, your customers will be delighted to have one less thing to think about.
You’ll be making their lives easier, giving them peace of mind and boosting your customer satisfaction levels by offering a payment option that’s reliable and hassle-free.
With no need to remember payment dates and amount, they’ll know that their fees are being paid automatically. They’ll never receive late payment penalties from you and won’t go into their overdraft because you’ve cashed their cheque on an inconvenient day.
Direct Debit collection doesn’t just reassure your customers that payments have been made successfully, it offers unbeatable levels of security.
You can tell them that the Direct Debit Guarantee protects them with a comprehensive range of safeguards. You can put their mind at rest that Direct Debit is the most secure form of payment available, making the chances of fraud highly unlikely.
How to Make the Switch
Choosing a Direct Debit scheme when you’re considering the cost of opening a gym will tick off an item at the very top of your business planning to-do list.
Simply speak to one of FastPay’s friendly experts and they can get you up and running in just 24 hours. You’ll be able to collect cash as soon as your first client signs up.
Once signed up, you’ll enjoy a professional, friendly relationship with a company that prides itself on exceptional customer service.
Gail is now enjoying all the benefits Direct Debit brings to a gym business and describes FastPay’s service as “quite simply impeccable”.
She said: “They’re friendly, efficient and always respond in the quickest time. They take time to explain their procedures and provide you with useful tools to assist you, such as submission calendars letting you know when you need to submit files and when their offices are closed etc.
“I have also found them extremely supportive in understanding the nature of our business and being extremely fair when increasing fees due to growth within our business.
“In all the time we have worked with FastPay there’s never been a mistake on their part and this means the service we in turn provide to our clients is the very best it can be.”
So if you’re looking into the cost of opening a small gym, appoint FastPay as your Direct Debit partner and you can sit back and relax, knowing that your regular customer payments are being taken care of.