Reinstating Members

October 31, 2013

Have you ever heard that old adage, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”? Well that same philosophy can apply to member reten­tion as well. It is no secret that you have roughly the same odds winning the Powerball jackpot as you do in retaining 100% of your members. It is a goal that we all strive for but no health club owner has ever achieved. There are a variety of reasons why a member leaves a club, but all would probably agree that losing a member because they simply stop paying is the most painful one. In some cases, there could be a legitimate issue that caused the member to stop paying; however there are many instances where the member was not aware that the payments had stopped. Either way, it happened. You are now faced with having to collect money from your member.

The traditional industry approach to collections has been one that was very straight forward and simple. The account is deemed uncollectable and escalated to a collection agency (or law firm) where they did whatever they felt was necessary to obtain a payment from the member. There was very little thought or concern given to why the member became delinquent, how the member felt during the collection process and what the agency’s approach might do to tarnish the reputation of the health club in their community. In today’s world, the economic pressures felt by many members and the immediate blast of information allotted by social media has deemed this old approach as one that is clearly past its time.

Seas & Associates takes a new approach to an old problem. At Seas, we work diligently to coach and train our staff to look at things differently. We recognize that members may have initially joined the health club in the hopes of finding a place to forget about life for a short time and attempt to heal their body and mind. We find that many of the members who have gotten off track with their payments didn’t even realize there was an issue. We work to bring their accounts back to a current status and reinstate them back to the club. If we do speak with a member that intentionally stopped paying, we work to address the issue and reinstate those members too. We bring empathy and understanding to our conversations with your members because it is our belief that a better member experience, especially in the area of collections, leads to higher member retention.

Below are just a few of the phrases we encourage our rep­resentatives to use when speaking with your members. This brief glimpse will provide you with an idea of what you can expect from our team in regards to how reinstatement is ap­proached.

“Hi, this is Johnny Collector. I am calling about your health club membership that recently fell behind in payments at (Name Club). We are very interested in getting you back in to the facility and assisting you with your health and fitness goals so if you don’t mind, will you share with me what the problem might have been?”

At this point the consumer will give you some feedback about why the payments didn’t continue to run successfully. A typi­cal response by the member is that it was a “month to month” membership and they assumed it would cancel when they quit paying. It is up to you to explain in detail the proper way to close an account and how the agreement works.

Once again, you should ask the member if they are interest­ed in reinstating the membership so they can begin using it again. If the member says “Yes”, we explain how much they need to pay towards the past due bal­ance, obtain new billing information for future payments, and have one of our reinstatement special­ists activate the member in DataTrak. All of this is done by the time we hang up with the member. They can immediately go work out.

The waters are uncharted and rough, but as each month passes our staff is becoming more profi­cient. We believe that paradigm is changing. We believe reinstating a member is the equivalent of signing up a new member.

How happy would you be if each month your club sold just 2 more memberships? How about 5? Now think about the potential members retained over the course of a year. At Seas, we believe that every membership reinstated will help your business in the long run. You remember that old adage “a penny saved is a penny earned”, right? Let Seas help you save those pennies.

For more information on Seas & Associates, please contact Sal Corrente, Director of Sales, at 866-992-8951.