In the competitive gym industry, attracting and retaining exercise enthusiasts is key to your long-term success.
You want them to sign up, work up a sweat and then stick around, both for your professional reputation and your bottom line.
Maybe you already enjoy high retention rates: clients love your gym’s sense of camaraderie, the inspirational classes and encouraging instructors. They also love how easy it is to pay their membership fees via Direct Debit.
Or perhaps, despite having the latest state-of-the-art equipment and friendly, helpful staff, your inflexible payment methods could be tempting members to check out your competitors.
If you don’t offer them the option of paying by Direct Debit – or you do, but don’t use a branded Direct Debit scheme – then you risk losing both members and profits.
Here we explore why personalising your Direct Debit scheme can increase customer loyalty and keep your gym’s accounts – and treadmills – running smoothly.
What is a Branded Direct Debit Service?
When you decide to accept recurring payments by partnering with a Direct Debit bureau, it’s important to choose one which offers a fully-branded service.
This means that your clients will see your company name on their bank statements, as well as your business name and logo on their Direct Debit mandate and invoices.
The alternative is to use an unbranded scheme which only shows the name of your bureau on all paperwork and online correspondence. There’ll be no sign of your own brand name or logo and a chance that clients have never heard of your Direct Debit provider.
This impersonal approach could lead to clients questioning who the payment has been made to: they’ve joined Pump It Up Gym not Dynamic Direct Debit Solutions. Some may then cancel the Direct Debit thinking money has been taken from their account in error.
And getting them back on board may not be as easy the second time around.
For those gyms who have selected a branded Direct Debit service, such as FastPay’s Managed Service, their customers will know exactly who they’re paying and not give the transaction a second thought. Some Direct Debit providers send reminders direct to your clients saying a payment will soon be taken. These emails come from the bureau rather than you, diluting and possibly jeopardising your brand.
Choose FastPay and your clients will be reassured that the gym they’ve joined is professional, personal and wants to make their life easier.
This trust will then extend throughout the rest of your business: they’ll trust you to take their membership fees from their account at the right time, they’ll trust you to inform them of any prices increases and they’ll trust your advice on the gym floor.
How to Set Up a Branded Direct Debit Service
First, make sure that your chosen provider offers a branded service and get a full breakdown of what this actually means, as it can differ between bureaux.
To be fully branded, the business name you include on your initial application form should be the only one your clients ever see. It needs to appear on mandates, letters, bank statements and your website sign-up page.
Bank statements are especially important when it comes to customer trust and loyalty. As there’s an 18-character limit on payee details, you need to be confident that your brand will appear clearly. Any ambiguity and you could be facing unwelcome customer feedback.
Once that’s established, it’s time to get Direct Debit Instructions from your clients.These are also called mandates and include all the crucial information you need to start collecting regular payments.
Mandates give you the permission to take a pre-arranged amount of money from your clients’ account on a specific date. They can be completed in one of three ways:
- Online – FastPay can provide all the information you need to set up a branded payment page to use on your website and/or to send out by email. It then takes just seconds for new clients to fill it in and send it back.
- By phone – FastPay can give you a Bacs-approved script to follow when signing up clients over the phone. This will include your brand name, not the name of your bureau.
- Via a paper mandate – again, this will be designed to include the name and logo of your gym and can either be handed over at your gym’s reception, sent out in the post or emailed out to your members.
Once you are in possession of your customers’ mandates, simply send the details to FastPay who will then forward them to Bacs for collection. Membership fees will soon start appearing in your account.
You can then rely on regular payments from your clients, facilitating predictable cashflow and reducing time-consuming admintasks while you focus on building your business.
More Loyalty-Boosting Benefits
Using a branded Direct Debit service comes with many benefits for both you and your clients. Its value to them is unrivalled.
For regular gym-goers, where they work out is an important part of their routine and lifestyle. They enjoy the familiarity of the equipment and have favourite classes which they’d miss if they felt they had to leave for a more financially-friendly gym.
Why? Direct Debit gives the peace of mind that their membership fees are being paid. They appreciate the care you’ve put into offering a payment method that doesn’t involve yet another life admin task.
This convenience means that when they visit your gym, they can focus on their fitness, not their finances. They have the reassurance that everything is being taken care of for them.
The chances of them remaining loyal to your business are also increased because Direct Debit offers unbeatable levels of security. 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.
And they’ll also warm to your brand thanks to the flexibility of their payments. This gives them full control over their cashflow and they can prioritise your payment within their budgeting.
Opting for a branded Direct Debit scheme for your clients is one more step towards running a successful gym business. A gym where the clients are encouraged to stay loyal.