“The Money Exchange” is sometimes the hardest part for a Fitness Professional. I mean, how do I charge the actual amount I am worth, for something that I love to do, and would actually do for FREE? The following information is designed for you to find the most “friction-free” type of financial transaction so that it is an enjoyable process for both you and the client and everyone leaves happy.
THE first thing you need to become comfortable with is the payment side of your business. You are providing a service and the client should pay for that service. Make sure you find that balance between the product they received and what your time, education, and quality of service is worth. Do not cheap price your services, as this does not always work in your favor, and the only person who ends up losing is you. (See our Business Savvy course on “Avoiding the Comfortably Uncomfortable” to scale your business, tweak your scheduling, and design a profit center that makes your life financially stress-free.)
Once you have established your pricing structure, the next course of action is to decide what type of payment you will accept. For example: checks, cash, card, or online transfer. The following is a breakdown of the pros and cons for each type of payment. It is ultimately up to you, but my advice is to find the avenue that takes the pressure off of you and the client so it is a frictionless process.
MONEY EXCHANGING HANDS
PROS– By accepting checks, customers don’t have to worry about charging their credit card or carrying a lot of cash around. Additionally, there are no processing fees on your end when depositing a check.
CONS– There is some risk associated with this option on your end as the business owner. What if you start training your new client and you find out the check bounced, leaving you with non-payment plus a fee from your bank. To protect yourself establish a policy that works for you – something that states if a new client is paying with a check that the check must clear prior to services commencing. Avoiding checks entirely would be my recommendation. I have been in the business a long time, and that is the only type of payment that fails on a consistent basis. In addition to all that, if a client is writing a check to you each month, they are associating YOU with the loss of money, rather than maybe the credit card company when they get the statement each month. Avoid taking checks for the sake of the risk as well as the psychological component that is attached to it.
PROS– Some people prefer to pay cash for everything. Similar to checks, this also will save you on merchant fees. You also don’t have the risk of bounced checks which in turn gives you loss of payment and bank fees. Some business owners favor this low risk, no fee, approach so much so that they offer their customers a discount for cash payments.
CONS– You will need to remember to track your payments accordingly because there may be a time when you need to qualify for a home, take on a business loan, move to new facility – all tasks where your financials are important to demonstrate earned income. If you haven’t been tracking your cash with a receipt book, or on taxes, this could end up hurting you in the end. Make sure you balance this form of payment with other payments to protect yourself on a larger scale. (Taxes, tracking, etc)
PROS– By accepting credit cards, you will be opening yourself up to a larger client base since you will be making it easy for them to pay however they like. Merchant accounts offer tools like invoicing, recurring billing, and mobile credit card processing. Many clients like to use credit cards if they can receive points. Squareup.com is a great option. There are fees associated, but it is easy to just plug the swiping device into your phone. Square also has an option that will link all data to your QuickBooks, so it can be easy to track. It accepts all major cards and gets you your deposits as fast as the next business day.
- You can take advantage of their standard rate of 2.75% per swipe, dip, or tap. If you purchase the Square Register, it is a fully integrated point of sale has the best rate of 2.5% + 10¢ per tap, dip, or swipe. Another option is keyed-in transactions, which runs at 3.5% + 15¢ per transaction. Many business owners find themselves using this option if they do not physically have access to their customer’s credit card in person. (For current Square percentages, see their website. Numbers reflect January 2018 research.)
We want to make the experience as “frictionless” as possible, so if you are thinking about making your client pay for the transaction fees, it is probably best to just price your packages assuming this is how they are going to pay, and then give them a discount if they pay in cash, etc. We always want to spin the experience in a positive light. It could make a client frustrated if they think their payment is $50.00 and then learn that it is actually $52 to account for the fee. Again, take into consideration the psychology behind the payment. Make it a positive and frictionless process.
CONS– They have more setup requirements and associated fees. You will have to fill out an application with information relating to your business model and finances for merchant accounts. (The information is less if you decide to do squareup.com). You will be required to provide personal information, complete a credit check and provide a personal guarantee on the account. Additionally, there are two common types of fees for credit card transactions: a flat rate you get charged for each credit card payment that is processed and a percentage fee based on the total amount of each transaction. There can be many other fees associated with a merchant account beyond the transactional fees. Other fees to ask about include monthly minimum fees, setup fees, cancellation fees, statement fees, chargeback fees, batch fees, and annual fees.
PROS – The technology world has made things much easier in the way of making payments, and many Fitness Professionals prefer to use apps like Paypal, and Venmo to exchange money. I see very little “CONS” with this sort of payment structure. There are little to no fees for the individual who is just trading money between friends, but as soon as you transfer over to the business world with these transactions, you must set up a business account. Everything is tracked for you and it is as easy as a push of a button. Your older clientele may not feel as comfortable with this type of payment, which could be a downside. However, they can choose another option, if that is the case. These money transfer apps have made being a consumer almost too easy.
- A PayPal business account allows you to accept payments on your website, in person, by e-mail, or phone. Mobile and in-store payments have a 2.7%per US swipe and 3.5% + $0.15 for keyed in sales. Online payments and invoicing have a 2.9% fee + $0.30 per transaction within the US.
- With Venmo there is 2.9% and 30 cents per transaction fee for merchants.
(For current PayPal and Venmo percentages, see their website. Numbers reflect January 2018 research.)
Money is energy and we want that energy to be in a positive light as we make the exchange from one hand to another. Giving your clients multiple options will allow them to feel that they are in control of the situation and can pay in any way that feels right for them at the time. Creating some sort of form, like a contract of sorts, for your clients would be beneficial. It could include the following:
- All payment options
- When their payment is due
- How the payments can be made
- What happens if they miss a session
- What happens if they or you are late for a session
- Refund Policy
All the above bullets are things that you should stand firm behind. As soon as you start making exceptions for certain situations, you will feel taken advantage of and it will continue to happen more frequently. It is simply setting guidelines and respecting and honoring yourself as a professional.
Now go forth and seize your frictionless business transactions!