We see more people heading to local parks for exercise when the weather heats up and I am sure you cannot help but notice that summer is the quietest time for signing up new students. This can be frustrating for those of you running an all year round business. For instance, how many times have you been asked to suspend a direct debit due to a family summer holiday meaning ‘Jimmy’ won’t be able to attend 2-3 lessons this month?
Can you relate to this?
Like most of us we look forward to our long awaited and overdue holiday, however, when your Martial Arts school is your main source of income you need to think what options you can offer to keep your students coming back and signed up. Direct debits are designed to help resolve the cash flow problem so allowing ‘summer suspensions’ defeats the object.
You may have designed your monthly fees to allow for a couple of days break due to holidays and sickness, which is a good way of helping to cover you costs in the short term. Yet you are still placed in this uncomfortable position of students taking longer holidays or more time off and also wanting to allow some flexibility to your students for things like this. Furthermore, allowing students time off gives them opportunity to “forget” about training and makes it harder for them to go back.
So what are your options?
Offer catch up lessons
This allows students to attend more classes per week to catch up. Students will appreciate the opportunity to be able to get caught up with everyone else and get back into the class routine again quickly. This way you are not losing out on money and you will keep everybody happy. Be sure to remind your students of any catch-up lessons you offer before they go away; you could also consider sending them a reminder message when they get back!
Put the student on a retainer fee or reduce a month’s payment
Retainer fees are great as you are almost guaranteeing that this student will return and their direct debit will continue as normal but on a temporarily reduced rate. This provides more security for you both financially and in terms of retention; this will also give the student some piece of mind that their costs are reduced while not attending class.
Set a time limit on direct debit suspensions so they automatically kick back in
This is similar to the retainer fee, but eliminating the charge to students altogether for a limited time. This method also provides you with the knowledge you need to budget effectively ahead of time, with the safety that the direct debit will re-commence at the full amount at a specific date; this can be beneficial for both yourself and the student. Just call the customer service team and let us know how many months you wish to suspend and we will take care of the rest! The student will be motivated to return as the payments restart.
For Mandate Errors
Another obstacle which we would like to avoid but is beyond our control is student’s incorrect bank details, and unsigned agreements known as “mandate errors”.
The next time the student or payer is in class, try to find a quiet moment to check their details are correct, in case a mistake was made when noting them down the first time. We are here to support you and will try our hardest to resolve these problems, but help from Instructors will speed up the process.
Of course you cannot expect that all your hurdles will be as easily overcome, but by taking some of these ideas on board I am sure you can find a way to manage your income and keep your students happy, steering away from any ‘winter blues’.