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Business Management

Stop Losing Money on Unpaid Visits to Your Gym or Fitness Studio

Fitness business owners must avoid unpaid visits for classes. Here's how to use software to eliminate unpaid classes at your fitness, yoga or dance studio.

February 15, 2021

You and your team work hard to deliver top-notch instruction to your fitness clientele, and you deserve to be paid for it! The best solution is prevention… and we’ve got the tools you need to address these issues BEFORE they cut into your bottom line.

An Unseen Problem Can Cost You Big Bucks

There’s nothing more frustrating for a fitness business owner than to find unpaid visits for classes piling up. Using your fitness business software to reduce or eliminate unwittingly giving away free classes can make a huge positive difference to your bottom line, and elevate your professionalism and customer care.

Handling unpaid classes and delinquent accounts can be a management and customer service nightmare on several fronts. Here’s why unpaid visits could be doing more harm than you know to your business and how to put a stop to the damage.

The Cost of Unpaid Visits

Unpaid visits and delinquent membership accounts can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue that’s difficult to recover. Especially with the addition of online classes, keeping track of who was in class, who paid and who didn’t can be incredibly time consuming. Going back through class attendance records to find unpaid class records is a hassle.

The Hassle of Tracking Down Issues From the Past

Tracking down students who owe you for one or more classes can be time consuming, frustrating and unpleasant. What studio owner or instructor enjoys making phone calls to inform customers that they owe you money? On top of that, you’ve got the added job of then selling them a new pass or membership if you want to retain them. These conversations can be uncomfortable for everyone. Many fitness business owners don’t want to be caught having to tell a customer that they made a mistake and didn’t collect payment at the time of service. But what do you do when that student shows up for their next class and now they owe for two, three, four or more classes? They might buy a five-class pass, but now they only have one more class to use. It’s not a good feeling, and it doesn’t engender trust.

Roadblocks with Staff Training

Training staff to flag and take care of unpaid visits at class time can also be an uphill battle. There are several reasons why catching unpaid accounts during class sign in is problematic. First, instructors tend to shy away from conversations that involve asking for money and they can feel too awkward to tell a student that they “owe” for class, especially if a culture of avoidance has led to multiple unpaid classes piling up.

Additionally, front desk staff and instructors who manage large classes will often have their hands full signing in long lines of customers and juggling selling passes while answering questions, welcoming new students and catching up with regulars. They will often simply not notice that a student’s account has come up “unpaid” until the customer is already in the locker room, classroom or gone for the day. They may not notice at all.

The Cracks in Membership Collections

Most members with monthly memberships will be honest and diligent about keeping up with their payments. However, inevitably, studio owners will encounter customers who:

  • Have stolen, lost of expired credit cards and don’t realize or remember that they need to update their payment information with you.
  • Drift away, move away, or choose for whatever reason to stop paying and don’t intend to ever catch up their payments.
  • Experience financial difficulties and don’t realize that their payment has been declined due to insufficient funds.
  • Purposefully close their account or cancel their credit care to avoid paying.
  • Disagree with your cancellation policy and refuse payment.

Here’s how to eliminate unpaid visits and delinquent memberships for good!

Solution Part 1: Require Payment Before Booking!

This is one of Punchpass’s most popular features, and its value is even more clear when your students are taking class online.

With Punchpass + Stripe, you can always require up-front payment by requiring an active pass to book. Additionally, you can limit the number of class reservations clients can make to number of passes purchased.

Once your setup is in place, the system will take care of making sure your students pay before they can book. It’s easy for your students, and easy for you. Make technology work for you!

Solution Part 2: Catch Drop-Ins Right During Sign-In

There will always be drop-ins. It’s easy to sell students passes during sign-in.

When hosting live classes through Punchpass’ Zoom integration, make sure you see list of the names imported from Zoom so that you can check them against your class roster of paid students.

If class is in person, consider setting up Punchpass’s customer self check in feature (make sure if you do so when COVID-19 cases are present in your community that you wipe down the device with sanitizer between uses). When customers select their name to sign in for class, they will be alerted if they have used up all their class passes or missed a recent membership payment. They can discreetly correct this on their own.

Solution Part 3: Follow Up Quickly After Class

If someone attends without paying, you are still golden if you follow up using Punchpass’ reporting and requesting payment by email. You can also use paylinks for a quick follow up after class.

Solution Part 4: Stay on Top of Memberships

Some of your students probably have recurring memberships, and you’ll want to be sure no one lapses.

After Stripe tries 3 times to collect payment for a membership (and fails), that membership is marked unpaid in Punchpasss and we email you so you can follow up. So watch your email inbox for notices that an autopay member’s credit card payment wasn’t processed. Be sure to reach out to the customer immediately to avoid unpaid classes, confusion for the customer and your instructors when the customer tries to sign in for his or her next class, and to avoid multiple month of missed payments, which are nearly impossible to collect.

Check your Punchpass Membership Report regularly to see which auto-paying members may have missed a payment. The report is set up so that you can click the member’s name and immediately see how much they owe, their contact information for reaching out and why their credit card was declined (there’s a big difference in how you would speak to someone whose card expired versus someone whose payment was returned for insufficient funds, for example).

The bottom line: There’s very little if any upside to allowing your customers to sign in to your classes without paying – whether in-person or online. If you’re using fitness business software to manage class sign in and online bookings, requiring customers to have a paid visit to use for the class is not only a no-brainer, but it could save you a ton of money and improve both your staff’s and customers’ satisfaction.