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Keeping Your Gym in Shape

Ways Your Gym Billing Company Might Be Losing You Money

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Jim ThomasJim Thomas

Thousands of gyms and fitness clubs are doing their billing and member management using gym software. But, just because you have gone digital does not mean you are ahead of the game. There are many ways that your gym billing company can actually cost you money if you don't know the right questions to ask, and this article discusses several of those ways.

  1. 1. Your vendor requires you to use their merchant account. Gym billing companies are not financial institutions; they are middlemen that mark up and resell financial services at a profit. Requiring you to move your billing services to their merchant account can cost you an additional 2% to 3% in monthly charges.
  2. 2. Your vendor does not provide next day funding for ACH transactions. It is critical to keep the cash flow going in your gym. Gym billing companies that do not process your ACH transactions in one day may cause critical lapses in your cash flow. Prompt ACH processing is important so that you can manage your billing and cash flow of receivables.
  3. 3. Your vendor does not provide an integrated email and texting function within their software. Having software with integrated email that includes self-managed custom templates is critical if you do email marketing to your existing member base. If your vendor does not provide this service, you will incur the extra costs of a service like MailChimp. And, having your existing member database accessible to integrated SMS templates will eliminate the time consuming exercise of exporting your member database and uploading it to the SMS company your vendor uses for texting. Remember, though, if your vendor has integrated an outside texting service, there may be extra rates applied every time you do a text to your member base, so be sure to check for that.
  4. 4. Your vendor does not include an integrated EFT payment-processing gateway. If your vendor outsources their ACH and credit card processing, they will pass those costs on to you, usually with a markup.
  5. 5. Your vendor does not provide automatic processing of declines back into the system, along with an automated way of rebilling declines. If you have to search for declines after every billing, you are wasting your time and your employee's time. In the gym industry, time is money. Your vendor should automatically process all declines and rebill them as part of their service.
  6. 6. Your vendor does not provide deferred revenue reporting for accounting purposes. Deferred revenue is money received by a company in advance of having earned it. In other words, deferred revenues are not yet revenues, and therefore, cannot yet be reported on the income statement. As a result, the unearned amount must be deferred to the company's balance sheet where it will be reported as a liability. If you have to spend time doing this reporting instead of your vendor, it becomes another added expense for you.
  7. 7. Your vendor does not provide a clear explanation of charges. There is nothing more aggravating than discovering "blended hidden" rates of services in your vendor's bill. If they do not provide this clarity, there is no way for you to know exactly how much you are paying for what.
  8. 8. Your vendor's software does not allow for extensive data mining of your member database. In the fitness industry, it is critical to be able to quickly contact ALL the members in your database --current, former and prospective-- so you can inform them of sales, specials, events, new products, "please come back" offers and use the integrated CRM to upsell them. If your vendor does not integrate this function into their software, it may take you hours to search the database for the group you want to reach, export the result, then contact the members through one of the email or texting services.
  9. 9. Your vendor's system does not include a mobile phone app. More and more gym members want to use their phones to schedule training, buy services, research history and check into the gym. A built-in app that your members can quickly acquire and download to their phone can save your club hundreds or thousands of dollars.
  10. 10. Your vendor's software does not allow for online training and scheduling. Being able to allow online booking and scheduling is crucial. It frees up your resources by letting the trainers and members schedule classes themselves. Plus, standalone scheduling systems can cost hundreds of extra dollars a month, a real detriment to your bottom line.
  11. 11. Your vendor's software does not reflect the number of training sessions used after purchase. If the vendor's system does not automatically perform the function of managing the allocation and use of purchased sessions, you will spend your money using your staff to manually keep track of what was purchased and when it was used.
  12. 12. Your vendor does not provide a CRM website that integrates with your software. Fitness clubs that can be found on all the social media outlets are ahead of the game. And, the smart clubs use social media to link to a user-friendly website where the latest offers and specials can be purchased. If your vendor does not offer this service and link it directly to your software database, you are losing revenue that could push your earnings to a whole new level.
  13. 13. Your vendor does not include online contracts as a feature of their software. For years, you have been having your new clients fill out paper contracts at the front desk, contracts that you then have to file away and keep permanently somewhere in your office. Software that stores all these contracts digitally and allows your members and prospects to sign up using a kiosk, tablet or phone allows you to store all your "paperwork" in the cloud, saving you space and allowing for instant retrieval of contracts. Paperless contracts stored on a secure cloud server also keep your club PCI compliant.

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Those are just some of the ways that your vendor can lose you money. When you are looking for gym billing software, or if you are just starting to wonder if you have gym software that is doing the very best job for you, review this information so you can ask the right questions.

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JLR Associates