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Old 09-03-2009, 02:39 PM   #1
Sam Ser
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When clients miss classes -- credit them?

Hello, affiliate owners! I searched for this topic but didn't find it, so I hope you can answer a question for me.

What do you do when a client has to miss some classes, in terms of offering credit? And do you differentiate between when something urgent comes up, and when they simply go on vacation?

I should note that I run some small group classes and that I have done so on only a semi-formal basis so far (no contracts, mostly friends and friends of friends). The classes are thrice weekly, not unlimited, so it's not like I can just say, "Hey, you get all-you-can-WOD access all the time, so when you choose not to show up, that's your prerogative! And if you can't make it at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, you can come in anytime the next day." They're also set classes, with a very small number of spots available, so it's not like I'm only missing one of 17 people in a class.

Until now I've let people make up a few classes down the road... but I am going to switch soon to closed classes and three-month commitments, and try to bring in a lot more clients. I don't want to turn clients off by being totally inflexible, but I don't want to be walked on, either.

I'd really appreciate hearing how you dealt with/deal with this issue.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-03-2009, 03:03 PM   #2
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: When clients miss classes -- credit them?

My affiliate doesn't give credit for missed classes, but isn't super strict about keeping track of attendance, either. So if I miss one class this week and take an extra class next week, they're cool with that.

My opinion is that giving credit for missed classes would be a very bad idea. The whole point of a commitment is to encourage people to actually come in for the classes, which is the only way they'll see any benefit. (Yes, it also gives you a revenue expectation, but you don't have to tell the clients that. )

Which is not to say you can't bend a little when emergencies come up, but I'd handle that case-by-case rather than having a formal policy.

This is one reason why punch cards exist: person pays for a set number of classes ahead of time, then it's up to them when to actually show up.

Katherine
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Old 09-03-2009, 03:10 PM   #3
Sam Ser
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Re: When clients miss classes -- credit them?

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post
My affiliate doesn't give credit for missed classes, but isn't super strict about keeping track of attendance, either. So if I miss one class this week and take an extra class next week, they're cool with that.

My opinion is that giving credit for missed classes would be a very bad idea. The whole point of a commitment is to encourage people to actually come in for the classes, which is the only way they'll see any benefit. (Yes, it also gives you a revenue expectation, but you don't have to tell the clients that. )

Which is not to say you can't bend a little when emergencies come up, but I'd handle that case-by-case rather than having a formal policy.

This is one reason why punch cards exist: person pays for a set number of classes ahead of time, then it's up to them when to actually show up.

Katherine
Thanks, Katherine.

I totally agree about the power of the commitment, and about the peace of mind of an income expectation.

I wasn't too keen on punch cards, but I'll give them some more thought.
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Old 09-03-2009, 04:42 PM   #4
Thomas Stevenson
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Re: When clients miss classes -- credit them?

Ya you definitely need some sort of written agreement/policy and stand by it. a 24hour policy or something like that where they have to notify you ahead of time so that way you have a chance to fill the spot or at least know its not just oh i just didn't want to get my lazy butt to the gym this is a commitment on both sides, same things with training people you have to tell them you have the right to cancel and will give them a certain or same time window to cancel. the best part of a contract and the exchange of money is holding the client responsible to show up. If they can't commit then they don't need to be wasting your time.
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Old 09-04-2009, 08:38 AM   #5
Katrina A. Burton
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Re: When clients miss classes -- credit them?

Something that I have come across when researching other affiliates is a "pass freeze". The client can pay an admin fee ($20) to freeze their pass for any reason (vacation, emergency injury, etc). If the client is paying for 3 times per week but only comes two, tough luck. But if they can't come for two weeks and they pay their admin fee to freeze their pass, then just tack on those weeks to the end of their pass. BUT... if you do this, the client HAS to pay their admin fee and make arrangements prior to their "leave of absence".
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:04 AM   #6
James Gordon
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Re: When clients miss classes -- credit them?

Hey Sam,

Stay AWAY from punch cards. I completely turned my business around and started making money after I went to a monthly fee. IMO, charge one price for the month based on x amount of classes. If they miss a class, it's on them; you need to pay your bills.

I allow members to put a "hold" on their membership as long as it's for more than two weeks (no admin fee or anything); travel, injury, work sched etc. I use Zen Planner and it's easy to do.

My $.02.
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:55 AM   #7
Sara Fleming
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Re: When clients miss classes -- credit them?

Sam,

When I was still working as an independent contractor, I went from charging for six weeks of classes to charging a monthly fee because of too many cancellations and last minute "emergencies". Friends or not, people will take advantage of you and when you are stuck waiting at the gym and no one shows up, it gets old fast.

When someone has a planned vacation for a week or two, I would pro-rate their monthly fee, but other than that, the responsibility is theirs. Once I made the switch, I felt a lot better about it and I had no complaints. If people didn't show up, at least I was being paid for my time.

I put time into my programming, driving to the gym, and getting ready to work with my clients so when they don't show up and expect me to go through all that again because they overslept, didn't feel like coming in, or didn't call a babysitter on time, that's simply not fair. The truth is, you're never going to know if the excuse is legitimate or not. And, if they really want to work out, they will make it work with their schedule and not force you to jump through hoops to get them there.

I am available to my clients via e-mail and phone for nutrition and recovery advice. I provide them with nutritional counseling, home workouts when they can't come in or are on vacation, and morale boosts when they need it so I don't see it as just an "at the gym" job. Therefore, I see paying a monthly fee to be your trainer is a much more fair way to compensate you for your time.

Sara
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:54 PM   #8
Andrew Bolliger
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Re: When clients miss classes -- credit them?

We have had a lot of luck with the monthly fee system, no punch cards or passes at all. I have put accounts on hold for special circumstances such as injuries and such, but typically there is no holds. I have a client leaving on vacation for three weeks this month... she pays for the whole month (they would at a globo gym and not even think to ask). I have another client that went out of the country for 4 months, in that case I put them on hold and it still costs $15 a month to be "on hold". Your building commitment and it's hard to do when there is no financial incentive to show up.
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Old 09-04-2009, 02:32 PM   #9
Celio Silva
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Re: When clients miss classes -- credit them?

Maybe I am just lucky, or maybe too small (a little over 30 clients in a garage gym), or maybe is just the vibe that I create at my gym, I don't know, but my experience is different than some of the trainers above.

Punch cards work REALLY well for me. Some clients need flexibility, period. I also offer drop-ins, which also works REALLY well for me. Here is why:

My punch cards expire, depending on how many punches are purchased it will last longer or expire sooner. This way no one takes too long to get their visits in. This allows clients with crazy work schedules to train as they can, and they LOVE it! They can also buy a PC for a visiting family member or friend, which if I didn't offer it, they wouldn't be able to do! It's the same with drop-ins.

If a client under a monthly membership needs to miss a session, I allow them to make it up. I know my clients, they know me, and NO ONE try pull crap such as canceling because they don't feel like showing up. My clients LOVE showing up and HATE missing a single session. I rarely have to re-schedule anyone, and when I do is for legitimate reasons such as a Dr. appointment or such.

If a client under a monthly membership is going on vacation for two weeks, they only pay for the two weeks they are going to train during that month. I am NOT a globo gym! If a client is going to be absent for more than a month (which I've never had happen before) there will be no such thing as a "freeze-fee" either. I don't have contracts, so there is nothing to "freeze".

My clientele deeply appreciates my flexibility and DO NOT, by any means, take advantage of it. Rather, my flexibility is an asset to my business. In the end, it all comes right back to me in the form of personal satisfaction for helping them as well as $$$! In the case of punch cards and drop-ins, one financial benefit it has brought me is that it has worked as a driving force to expose my business, get people in, and bring me new clients. Funny thing, clients on Punch Cards and Drop Ins end up spending just as much, if not more, than monthly membership clients .

This is just my experience, so I though I would share it for what is worth. Different strokes for different folks, just stay open and try what you feel is worth trying! Good Luck!
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Old 09-05-2009, 05:00 AM   #10
Randy Tarasevich
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Re: When clients miss classes -- credit them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Gordon View Post
Hey Sam,

Stay AWAY from punch cards. I completely turned my business around and started making money after I went to a monthly fee. IMO, charge one price for the month based on x amount of classes. If they miss a class, it's on them; you need to pay your bills.

I allow members to put a "hold" on their membership as long as it's for more than two weeks (no admin fee or anything); travel, injury, work sched etc. I use Zen Planner and it's easy to do.

My $.02.
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