The importance of scrutinising your member’s payments

Knowing your audience is important. As attentive leisure organisations, we tend to know our member demographics but we don’t pay much attention to the finer details of our customer payments. This is essential when you think about it, what with money being the end goal of every business.


 So what are we looking out for?

Thriving fitness organisations as we are, we witness a continuous tide of new and returning members entering our facilities. Each of these will have invested something different into us. Some will be loyal, others less so. Some may be getting away with lost payments and you don’t even know about it.

The majority of customer payments are collected by Direct Debit. Whilst this is an easy solution for membership collection, it remains vital to keep track of where your money is coming in, for a number of reasons:

  1. Keeping a closer eye on customer payments will enable you to better understand your cashflow, allowing you future-proof your income in a clearer and much more accurate way.
  2. You can gain an improved understanding of your best and worst paying customers. This way, you can reward customer loyalty and start thinking about safeguards to deter customer’s that are a drain on resources.
  3. Following the peaks and troughs of member sign-ups on a more granular level will help you to plan offers and incentives that really work!
  4. Sometimes, defaulted payments slip the net. When you’re a busy organisation with a multitude of tasks on the go, that’s often the way it is. Unfortunately, however, little else burns a hole in the company pocket than lost payments so being on top of them really is crucial.


More analytics

Thank the stars for the internet and all the information contained within. Whilst manually analysing all your financial information can leech time away like little else, the internet has birthed the ability to have all the data at your fingertips in seconds!

Reports, such as leading Direct Debit bureau DFC’s Data Retrieval, can provide you with an in-depth overview of your transactions, customer insights and areas that need attention. It’s one of the reasons that so many leisure organisations use DFC to manage their Direct Debit collection.

Data Retrieval is available 24/7 and can be easily integrated with existing CRM systems. Find out more about DFC’s fantastic Direct Debit solutions and see what they can do to help you turn around member attrition, credit control and plenty more:

Questions you should be asking your Direct Debit bureau

If Direct Debit is your chosen method for collecting membership and subscription or one-off payments then you’re already on a great path for your business and bottom line.

Despite this, it can still be a time-consuming endeavour to oversee administrational duties. Sometimes you need experts in place who can handle the process for you. But how do you ensure your organisation is receiving the best service? Here’s what you should be asking your Direct Debit bureau:


What do they offer?

Do they manage the Direct Debit process in its entirety? If so, does this match up to your needs? Is there anything they can’t do that will create more work for you?


What flexibility do they give your customers?

Your Direct Debit bureau is the expert in payment collection; therefore it stands to reason that they should be the one discussing it with your users. At DFC, our call centre is open 6 days week and is busy handling thousands of requests a day from customers.


How regularly can you bill customers?

If your bureau only allows collections to be carried out in fixed amounts then this detracts from the flexibility offered by Direct Debit in the first place, so it’s worth considering if they’re the right fit for you. Through DFC, billing can be scheduled on a weekly, fortnightly, 4 Weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, Monday to Friday.


Are they accommodating to the ebbs and flows of your service?

Some industries chop and change their membership/subscription strategy regularly. Take for instance the leisure industry, which relies on offers to get new members through the door. If this is the case, it’s important to find a bureau prepared to handle these changes quickly and efficiently.


Do they have the technology to allow you to track your payments?

It’s all well and good finding a company to manage your payment collections, but it’s still important you remain aware of incoming payments, failures, your best-paying customers and your worst. DFC’s reports provide insights into all your transactions and are available to view 24/7. These can be automated to be received daily, weekly or monthly.


Can they integrate with your CRM?

A seamless CRM is the oracle of every business. It’s no good joining the dots when you have data stored all over the place. This is why DFC integrates with many of the leading CRM platforms and deal with millions of API web service requests per month. They are even willing to expand if a CRM doesn’t fall into their current portfolio.


What are others saying about them?

“DFC is meticulous to detail and customer service is second to none, not to mention the expertise and advice they offer our management team at all levels.”

M Lyons, BH Live


“We now have two of our businesses using their service and won’t hesitate to integrate the system into new businesses and would highly recommend them to any prospective client.”

Niall Hebron, Reality Expansion Group


“With DFC we are confident that the membership payments will be collected every month, allowing us to plan our business and to reinvest into our facilities.”

Julie Watson, Slough Leisure

These are just some of the fantastic reviews left from happy DFC clients. Have a look at our 
Direct Debit solutions and see what we can do for you!

Managing your Direct Debits

People like Direct Debits. They’re easy to setup and require little maintenance past the odd check-up. Despite this, they still fall under the perplexing finance umbrella which, for many, is a complex place to be. So here’s the low-down on bossing your direct debit payments.

Setting up a Direct Debit

In order to get started with Direct Debit payments, you will first need to fill out a Direct Debit Instruction with the company you’re wishing to pay. This can usually be done over the phone or via an online portal.

This will be sent forward to your bank or building society, which will authorise payments from your account to theirs. You’ll simply need your name and address, your sort code and account number and any additional information required by the company related to your purchase.


Direct Debit queries

Knowing who to speak to with Direct Debit matters really comes down to the nature of your inquiry. It’s more than likely that you will need to get in touch with the company in question, particularly if your concern relates to your membership/subscription or payments.

If your queries relate directly to the Direct Debit process, then get in touch with your bank or building society. In the event of any errors or miscarriages, you’re protected under the Direct Debit guarantee. You can read more about this here.


Payment changes

Many people choose to use Direct Debit due to its flexibility, unlike standing orders which only allow fixed amounts going out at set intervals. You’ll be notified of any changes to the amount, date or frequency of a payment within 10 working days of the payment.

Without advance notice, you are entitled to a refund under the rules of the Direct Debit Guarantee.


Direct Debit cancellations

You can cancel your Direct Debit at any time by simply getting in touch with your bank or building society, however, it is advisable that you notify this to the organisation you are paying to. If you wish to continue using them, then you will have to discuss alternative payment methods.

Ensure that you cancel your Direct Debit with a minimum of a day’s grace before the payment is due to come out as you may find the payment will still be made. Money shouldn’t be collected post-cancellation, so be sure to check your statement afterwards.


Direct Debit top tips:
  • Always ensure you have sufficient funds in your account to sustain your Direct Debit payments.
  • Stay on top of your outgoing payments so you can remain vigilant in case of errors.
  • Keep an eye out for Direct Debit offers. Direct Debit is a cheap collection method for companies so many will offer incentives for you choosing to pay this way.
  • A rewards account is a great way to get money back or rewards from banks when you pay your Direct Debits through them.
  • Direct Debits are a great choice for paying bills, insurance, mortgages, loans and subscriptions and memberships. Around 15,000 UK organisations offer this collection method.


Find out more about DFC’s trusted and transparent Direct Debit collection solutions. Our mission is to help you improve your relationships with your customers so that they stay longer. You can leave us to collect your Direct Debits, while you concentrate on running – and growing – your business.

We do more analytics

Years ago, it took an inordinate amount of legwork and man hours to uncover insights and trends. Now, we have it at our fingertips – hurrah!

Thanks to the dawning of the internet, we now have the tools at our disposal to make educated choices, rather than relying on conjecture or falling foul to human error. This is handy for companies that depend on a steady stream of Direct Debit payments.


Foresight in finance

Direct Debit is a great collection choice when it comes to streamlining your cash flow. It really requires little administrational input and can save you a heap of time and money.

Nonetheless, keeping track of your transactions is not only important for the now, it sets a pretty clear path for the future and the direction in which you need to steer your company.

You need to know where your payments are coming from, where payments have defaulted, who has cancelled, who’s your best paying customer and who’s your worst. This way, you can keep tabs on your income. Luckily, DFC has it covered.


Data Retrieval Service

DFC’s 24-hour data retrieval service gives you the tools to keep track of your Direct Debits and stay ahead of the game. Their unique management platform allows you to maintain and monitor the payments coming in from your customers, and be proactive on defaulting payments.

The Data Retrieval Service can easily be integrated into existing CRM systems, allowing all data to slot in seamlessly with current operational functions. From here, you can clearly scope out areas that need attention and identify key areas for growth.

The Data Retrieval Service helps you account for every penny, giving you the apparatus you need to improve overall collection rates, avoid holes in your company’s pocket and effectively manage administration.

Find out more about DFC’s Data Retrieval Service here and get in touch with the experts who can efficiently manage and grow your Direct Debit collection process.

Incorrect payments and refunds

A Direct Debit is known to be one of the safest and easiest ways to pay for your products and services, but as with anything errors can occur. Whether you’re a customer who has entered bank details incorrectly or a business that has taken a payment a day early, we have got you covered on what to do.


Check the Direct Debit set up details

When a Direct Debit is set up all parties should be aware of the amount due to be taken and the date in which this will be deducted from an account. A document known as an ‘advanced notice’ will be issued to the bank account owner. If the amount taken or the transaction date differs from what is stipulated on the advanced notice, an immediate refund may be available as part of the Direct Debit Guarantee.

An important thing for both customers and businesses to check is whether the payment date has been changed to allow for an upcoming bank holiday or weekend. If a payment is set to fall on a National Holiday e.g. Christmas Day it is common practice that the payment date will be changed to a day further in advance e.g. December 28.

On occasion, a payment may be deducted earlier than expected. Where this is the case, notification should be given to the account holder.


What to do when you are certain an error has been made

Once you are certain an error has been made, the bank in which the account is held should be contacted immediately, either face to face or via email, letter or telephone communication.

It is helpful to know that if an unauthorised payment has caused you to become overdrawn you can also claim back these additional charges.

Payment errors should be refunded immediately. Where this is not done a complaint can be raised with the bank in question directly or through the Financial Ombudsman.


Delays in refunds are possible

In many instances, a refund is not immediately paid because the bank and the organisation that mistook the payment will need to liaise with one another.  Your bank should give you a rough timescale on how long they think this will take. It is also important to remember that the bank is the party that is responsible for chasing the refund, meaning the process is relatively stress-free for customers.

If you are a business and you have been made aware by a customer that an error has been made, whilst it can be frustrating to hear, you must make the customer aware that for data protection and security purposes only the account holder can report the error.


Further guidance

Whilst we hope the above has clarified the course of action one should take if a payment error has occurred, however further help and support can be found for DFC customers/ clients by calling the dedicated helpline 01908 422 000 or by completing an enquiry form.

Is it time to consider direct debit?

A set amount coming out of your bank account every month in the form of a direct debit can sometimes seem like a daunting prospect. However, here at DFC, we know this is one of the safest and easiest ways to pay for your products and services, with the benefits far outweighing the negatives.

If you have a direct debit mandate in front of you or are tempted to pay this way to secure yourself the best deal, then have a read of this blog post to find out why direct debit is for you!


There’s a safety net in place for if things go wrong

Let’s imagine you write a cheque to your local gym, ensuring your salsa classes are booked and paid for for the next six months. You quickly check your online banking and notice the amount has been deducted not once but twice. Now hours of phone calls to your bank and the gym are about to take place, with the dance class a distant memory.

Set Direct Debit payments to prevent this, with a Guarantee in place ensuring that customers will get a full and immediate refund if a payment error has been made.


Your money is immediately available, meaning a better service for YOU

A fixed amount going into a business’s account every month gives companies the opportunity to put that money back into the business, rather than having to wait until more revenue comes in to fix the rowing machine!

It’s easy to assume that businesses want you to pay by Direct Debit to boost their balance. Whilst all companies have bills to pay, your direct debit payments mean funds are available to improve the products and services you are paying for.


No late payments

Is there anything worse than having to pay a company, for not paying a company? Two payments deducted for one service.

With a Direct Debit in place, you can rest assured knowing how much is coming out and when.


It’s easier to manage your money

We would all like our savings accounts to be fuller and for money to be more readily available when needed. However, many of us just don’t have large amounts of cash to spare meaning that a little and often direct debit payment is the perfect way to avoid missing out.


You can get access to the service you want more quickly

Alternative payment methods (to direct debit) often involve remembering to send a cheque or engaging in a telephone conversation. With direct debit, if you decide you want something you can visit the website and sign up there and then!