Summer is fast approaching in this part of the world and if you manage a swimming school or run swimming lessons as part of your recreation facility it’s likely that more members are heading your way.

In terms of collecting payments, you may have already considered Direct Debit as an option for your business. Here are a couple of questions and answers that may help with your thinking around your business and your payment options:

Why should I change if I’m happy with our current set up?
Remember, Direct Debit is an option, not an obligation. That said, we do suggest you read on a little further to understand why so many operators are making the move to Direct Debit – if nothing else, the common Direct Debit queries should prove useful. In the end, you will have a pretty good idea of whether Direct Debit is right for your business.

Why are so many swimming operators choosing Direct Debit?
Direct Debits mean big benefits to customers and businesses in equal measures.

Parents using Direct Debit can spread costs easier over a 12-month period. This solves the block/term payment problem, which sees parents, especially those with two or more children, commonly remove their children from the scheme after the first instalment.

This cost-spreading is also handy for your business because it balances out the inevitable cashflow peaks and troughs that come with upfront or annual payments.

Statistics on swimming schools using Direct Debit show that:

  • Overall attrition rates sit at around 2.5% per month
  • This equates to 30% loss of swimming club pupils over the year compared to many schemes that lose 60% or more of their swimmers over the year
  • Many schools are close to 100% income collection rates. *

This is great news for customers and a predictable stream of income for your business.

What’s more important than the number of swim schools on Direct Debit?
Answer: the number of swim schools that have stayed on Direct Debit.

Once a school has migrated to this collection method very few, if any at all, change back. Here’s why:

  • Cost – Direct Debit is an affordable and efficient payment method
  • Ease of time and resources
  • Less administrative burden.

Unlike standing orders, time spent on managing incoming payments is minimal. Most operators opt for online joining to remove themselves from the sign-up as much as possible and speed up the process for customers.

The only thing left for back-of-house staff to do is to monitor incoming and cancelled payments. There’s not much to it and with less administrative requirements, they can focus their attention on more important areas of the business.

As a result, swim schools that migrate to Direct Debit generally find no reason to move away once they’re on it.

How easy is it to introduce Direct Debit payments?
As with any change in process, the trick is to plan in advance. You might want to consider bringing in a specialist company to help manage the process. It’s a fairly straight-forward process, but there’s lots to think about and it helps to have an expert hand.

We recommend that you communicate with your members in advance to let them know you’re offering a new payment method. Staff training is also important. You’ll need to ensure that your frontline team is clear how the process works both online and with walk-ins.

Will I need to change to a different number of teaching weeks?
If you’re already operating to a 50-week programme, then there’s no need to change the number of teaching weeks. Simply take the cost of weeks and divide it by 12.

If you operate on anything less than a 50-week programme, then Direct Debit is a great opportunity to work towards this.

What are the benefits to the customer?
We’ve already noted cost spreading – and there are more benefits:

  • For starters, the smaller upfront payment will be significant in a customer’s initial decision to use you versus a competitor
  • Many organisations, particularly leisure facilities like swimming schools, channel cost-savings through Direct Debit into member discounts. Special offers and incentives for people signing up by Direct Debit will make your business even more attractive to prospects and fend off local competition
  • Direct Debit is accessible 24/7. Prospects can sign up easily and at any time from the comfort of their couch or on their commute to work. There’s no need to physically visit the organisation, although it is still an option for people nearby
  • It’s paperless. Contract documents are stored virtually, which means no storage hassle (or lost paperwork).

Why should I change if I’m happy with our current set up?
If you’re happy with the way things are going then that’s great. If you think Direct Debit might be the way forward for your swim school then it’s worth having a chat with the Direct leisure experts to discuss how Direct Debits will fit into your business.

Contact the Debitsuccess team for a chat on how Direct Debit can work for your swim school.

*UK statistics