How to Make Your Clients Happy to Pay Direct Debits

Nov 19, 2014

By Tim Saye

Probably the biggest problem with being in the fitness business is the irregular income…

I think we have all been there;

One week you earn loads, you think you will finally start to realise your dreams and the next week it’s the school holidays and half your clients are off…. That’s you back in the shit and struggling to pay the rent again.

My little boy started nursery recently and we have to pay every month…. Even when we are away (I found this a little annoying as they don’t provide any service while we are away and we have to pay 52 weeks a year… Even over Christmas!)

But think about it… You pay your rent or mortgage whether you are there or not. Gym membership goes out even if you don’t go, internet, telephone, water, Sky TV etc etc ect…

Virtually everything you use regularly and pay for is on a monthly or yearly subscription.

Everything you are a “member” of you pay a monthly or yearly subscription.

So why did personal trainers and bootcamp owners set themselves up to be pay as you go or pay for 10 sessions and turn up as you like?

The reason is two fold;

1) The competition does it and we are always worried about what our competition charges…. We should not be… We are all different and provide different services. By packaging and offering our services well we needn’t be too worried about others as we become a market of one.

2) We are ridiculously nice people and we really don’t feel comfortable charging members while they are away and we are not providing them with our service.

Point 2 seems entirely fair enough and was exactly the reason I got annoyed at having to pay for my son’s nursery 52 weeks a year.

But what if they provided some form of service to us while on our holidays?

A discount for various kids clubs around the world.

Or information on the best and most trustworthy babysitters in the area we are travelling to.

Or even a quick video lesson on how they cook his 3 favourite nursery meals.

Simple things but all of a sudden I wouldn’t mind paying them year round (because they provide us with a service we can use all year round) plus I would actually be wowed by the level of service and care they had shown us.

(Notice how BT (my internet provider) now provides internet hotspots everywhere, mobile phone companies offer service in all countries, Sky (satellite and cable TV provider) offer Sky Go etc etc….)

The kids club discounts or babysitter research are actually things I would tell all of my NCT (baby and parent group) friends about (in fact I always tell people about how brilliant BT hotspots and Sky Go are) . Tip: everyone wants to brag when they feel like they are receiving the best service!

All research suggests that when people pay by direct debit rather than session by session they attend more often, follow the program better and get better results.

That being the case it should be considered a disservice allowing our clients and members to get less than optimal results.

It is certainly a disservice to our families to not know what we earn each month…. Plus you’ll never get a mortgage these “post sub prime economic crash” days without a regular income.

So, how do we do it and how do we make sure our clients are happy.

First up we package our services….. Write down everything you currently offer, even the stuff you don’t charge for such as consultations, program design, nutritional guidance etc…. Chuck in some other bits and pieces that are easy for you to produce but sound great to your clients such as workouts for when you train alone or go on holiday, food diary analysis, regular accountability messages, recipes, etc….

Put it all together with your training sessions as a package.

Add in a paragraph saying something like this “We don’t just look after you for one hour a week and leave you to fend for yourself the rest of the time. We guide and support you 178 hours a week….. Even when you travel with work or go on holiday…… Your health and results are too important to us to let you slip backwards when you are not with us face to face”.

Now your clients and future clients feel like they have extra support and will get from you the guidance and care they need year round, not just for the few hours they are right in front of you.

Now work out your monthly prices but put a value on the extras as well as the sessions. Ie if you charge £50 per session at the moment work out what once a week is, twice a week, three times etc…

1 x per week = £50 x 52 weeks (a year!) = £2600 …. Then divide by 12 (monthly!) = 216.67 per month.

Lets say you value your coaching at £50 per month then £216 + £50 = £266 per month

2 x per week + £50 x 2 = £100. £100 x 52 = £5200. £5200/ 12 = £433.33

Add in £50 for your coaching and its £483 per month

Notice how adding a value to your coaching makes it hard for a client to determine your actual session price as the 2 times per week training is not double the cost of 1 time per week.

I would offer your current clients a discount to make it seem cheaper per session than what they pay at the moment… You will still almost certainly still make more from each client as time goes on.

So lets assume this is for a CURRENT client that trains twice a week. Take the 2 x per week monthly fee (£483 in this example) take away the coaching cost (£50) = £433

Now offer a discount to take it to a nice round number = £400. Take a pound off to make it look cheaper!! = £399 per month

Now work out how many sessions they get in the average month (2 x 52)/ 12 = 8.667 sessions in an average month.

Show them what this would cost at their current rate = 8.667 x £50 = £433 per month

Then show them what you are offering them = £399 per month

Make sure they see all of the extras you are offering with the £399 direct debit package and put it to them.

…………….. Some will go for it and some wont, that’s OK.

Then use these packages as the options for your new clients…. The extra service is actually a fantastic advertising point and will attract people that require this type of support.

As your business grows so will the consistency of your income, the happiness of your family and your chances of getting a mortgage!

The results your clients get will improve as will the quality of your reputation.

The two things that won’t grow are your stress levels and your clients body fat %!

At PT Distinction our mission is to provide you with all of the tools you need to provide amazing service and packages to your clients with minimal time taken out of your day. The reason this is our mission is to give you the life, income and predictability that you deserve and to allow your clients to get much better results through your coaching.

If you provide a better service, a service that is always available no matter the date or location and a service that helps your clients get better results and offer a pricing system that encourages your clients to attend and participate more often then you are doing them a massive favour.

It just so happens that that monthly payment system helps you and your family out as well, helps you plan for your future, and feel financial security.

Win Win!

BTW a lot of the marketing gurus in our industry will tell you to get clients to sign contracts for large periods of time to guarantee your income…… all research tells us that this is bad for member retention, here’s a snippet from a Berkeley study;

“consumers who choose a monthly contract are 17 percent more likely to stay enrolled beyond one year than users committing for a year. This is surprising because monthly members pay higher fees for the option to cancel each month.” -

Basically a monthly direct debit just goes out and each month reinforces a decision they have already made. A contract for a certain number of months forces the consumer to re-evaluate and make a new decision at the end of that period… This time they may make a different choice.