CONTENT BROUGHT TO YOU BY: ASF Payment Solutions
The decision to change software platforms with a new payment management partner can seem like an enormous undertaking, but it actually can be smooth and rewarding if club operators stay systematic in their approach and work closely with their new payment solutions partner. I'm talking of course about transferring your club's membership data.
Perhaps you are one of the many health club owners seeking a new health club management software and billing solutions platform that feels like a better fit for your business model. Maybe you are interested in consolidating those tedious and time-consuming tasks that are spread out between multiple software programs. Or, you are looking for a more intuitive software package that allows you mobile and real-time access.
Business owners change member management software companies for many reasons, including ones that have nothing to do with the software. The following issues could be reasons you need to switch to more efficient management of members' dues:
- a lack of support and ongoing training;
- doing more with data in areas such as mobile marketing; and
- the need for a full-service company with robust security, backup, PCI-DSS compliance and even better management of members' dues.
For whatever reason, changing providers is a big but manageable process that potentially can offer huge benefits and rewards for your business.
So, what are those rewards and benefits in switching to a new payment management provider? Besides streamlining your club's processes with new gym management software, how is the usability and interface? Your time is your most precious asset, and you should spend more of it with members. Does your current software allow you and your staff to use that time efficiently when it comes to entering data? Is the software intuitive? Can you move quickly, or are you duplicating your efforts, for example, by entering information twice? Do you have enough confidence in your current company's support and training that you know that if you get stuck a quick solution is always a phone call away? Is the training unlimited and included as part of your contract?
The security of cash flow has to be the top priority, so how can a new provider offer the benefit of rewarding your club with increased profit? What are you actually paying for with multiple services from your present provider, and what is the total cost when all of the fees are added up? In regard to increased profit, an experienced provider will find opportunities to improve cash flow by successfully processing more member payments, which may not have had follow through.
Finally, all of these benefits and rewards should be developed as part of a relational partnership with your payment solutions provider, and that's critical to great customer service. These are a few rewards and benefits you should question with your current provider in terms of improving your business operation and making the decision to transfer to a new payment solutions company. But you still may be nervous about making the transfer because you may have heard the following questions, which are based on misconceptions:
- Will my club lose data during the transfer? No. As soon as your club is under a new contract, the payment solutions provider should begin by importing or copying the database into the new system and matching all member files to their contracts, including notes, email addresses, payment history, etc. The second step is to get all final files before the first billing date so no time is lost. Nothing should go live until everything is in place, verified and tested.
- Is there a double billing of my members? No. All club member payment due dates should be advanced by the new payment processing partner so they don′t coincide with the current company′s billing. The club needs to be in constant communication, and once the final member files are in place and the first draft date begins using the new software, the club should discontinue billing in the old system.
- Do we get software training before, during and after the transfer? Not all payment solutions companies provide the service, or some may charge extra. It is critical for the service provider to begin training with a club's staff as soon as they are onboard. It is also important to have all appropriate staff be part of the transfer process through training. Because of staff turnover and software upgrades, it is essential to have ongoing training.
- Will my business lose money by being down during the transfer? No. Once any required notice has been given to the existing provider, a club operator should have ample time to transfer, set up files and be operational prior to the first draft date. Your new software and billing company should have the staff and technology to handle extensive amounts of member data. In addition, they should be able to securely log onto the computers at the club if the provider doesn't supply them. They can then extract files or save reports to build a comprehensive member database. The new provider should even have the staff available to enter contracts into their system straight from paper documents if necessary.
These six things can make your move to the new payment system a success:
- Make sure any known project is completed within the existing software. Do not leave any errors or member account updates to be transferred into the new software. Once finished, discontinue entering data into the old system.
- Establish a new or existing draft date to start the billing process.
- Communicate often with your new partner's point of contact and stay flexible. Make them aware of extraneous cancelations, credit card number updates and payments collected at the club.
- Create staff involvement before and during the transfer process. Also, involve all staff in the transfer and payment processing so they are committed to the success of the change.
- Recognize that your company's full commitment is required regardless of scheduling conflicts, vacations, etc. This process should be done with a purpose.
- Work closely with those at your new billing and software company designated to train you and your staff, and keep to the training schedule.
Successful transfers are those in which both parties are engaged and remain committed to the change. It is in your new payment management company's best interest to preserve your cash flow and get your transfer done correctly and in a timely manner. Your club's staff involvement is critical in several ways, including providing answers to member questions; communicating changes to the membership; and most importantly, immersing themselves with learning the new software system. Understanding the roles outlined above will ensure that your staff and members will embrace the new features and benefits of a new payment processing system and make it a success.
Stephen Wilson is the marketing manager at ASF Payment Solutions and a 20-year veteran of marketing and advertising. For more information, contact him at: [email protected]. ASF is the first billing company in the health club software industry and has spent more than 40 years perfecting the art of member receivables management, health club management software and marketing programs. Through the years, ASF has listened to thousands of business owners and values its development of relational partnerships by gaining a greater knowledge base through client feedback. Visit www.asfpaymentsolutions.com, or call 1-800-227-3859 for more information on ASF products and services.