Last week we discussed the 8 guidelines you need to follow before implementing a successful annual/maintenance fee program (AF). I hope you have already started the ball rolling, at least considering all the options and surveying your current members and staff for feedback.
This week is the easier part: How to implement the AF.
8 steps to implementing a successful annual/maintenance fee program:
1. Clearly state the fee during the club tour
2. Clearly mention the fee in any marketing material. The last thing you want to do is surprise a potential member with a fee they were not expecting.
3. Clearly highlight the AF in your contract and have the member initial the section.
4. Clearly state the terms by which the membership can be cancelled.
5. Make clear to the member that your club’s cancellation policy must be followed; otherwise the AF will still apply even if they close their bank account to avoid any and all fees. You are making an investment in your club for your member’s future use they should give you the respect you deserve to properly cancel the account.
6. Clearly state the annual fee is non-refundable, especially if the AF is for the next 12 months.
7. Post signs in the club prior to the debit date of the AF to remind the members. Out of sight out of mind is not the way to go, as so many clubs do. The posting of signs is highly unlikely to cause cancellations from your active members who use the club. Non-active members may question the fee or even cancel. However, this should never happen if you are communicating with all your members, not just with those using your club. That is a topic for another discussion.
8. Consider closing the club for X days once per year to implement any club renovations and/or add the new equipment. The best time to do this is in the summer, of course. Close the club for two days and thoroughly clean, renovate (new paint goes a long way), add new equipment, rearrange the equipment or train the staff on new services. When you re-open the members can see the difference and will greatly appreciate that you care and you are willing to re-invest in the club and their health. I have seen some clubs close over the long Labor Day weekend every year. They close Friday night and re-open Tuesday morning so they can get everything completed.
Now you have the information to make an informed decision about raising your rates or instituting an annual/maintenance fee. The tough choices are when to implement and how to include your existing members. Once you give this some dedicated thought, planning the implementation should be easy. If your current billing software or your current billing company is unable to help you with the introduction of an AF give us a call.