Last week, we discussed how keeping electronic records lowers overhead and improves cash flow at sports facility start-ups. In the past, we’ve also discussed how requiring upfront payments helps keep more cash on-hand. You’ve heard it many times, but I’ll say it again: Cash is king for new businesses. Any efforts you make toward improving cash flow can be essential to your sports facility start-up’s survival.
This week, I’ll suggest one more cash-flow-focused idea: accepting online payments. Allowing your customers to pay online goes a long way toward streamlining your processes, saving money, and keeping as much cash on-hand as possible.
My company’s sports facility management software, eSoft Planner, was developed because I couldn’t find a software anywhere on the market that allowed clients to schedule online at their convenience. Some of my eSoft Planner clients are still hesitant to give all the responsibility for payment to their customers. They don’t trust their customers to make the payments correctly, or they think that requiring more in-person interaction promotes a community feeling at their facility. I always strongly advise them to reconsider, for these reasons:
Online payments reduce administrative costs.
If you could cut in-store scheduling and payment in half, how much time would you save? The hours your front desk staff spends requesting money from customers and processing their payments could be used for friendly interaction and in-depth customer service instead. The reduction in administrative tasks might also save you money on payroll. By scheduling for themselves, your clients are essentially working for you.
Online payments bring cash in faster.
I can’t emphasize this enough. When clients pay online, you get the payments sooner, which gives you more cash to work with. Electronic payments are deposited directly into your account – no need to go to the bank – and are often deposited days or weeks before the actual service that the client paid for.
Online payments are convenient for customers.
Giving clients the opportunity to pay for services outside of regular business hours gives them valuable flexibility, and that convenience makes them more likely to pay without reminders from you.
Online payments make accounting easier.
Electronic payments made online are tracked in real time, allow for flexible reporting (depending on the software you use) and help prevent mistakes or miscommunications that can happen when payments are handled by an employee.
If you decide to accept online payments, make sure that your system allows customized prepayment options or the ability to send online invoices. Also, make sure the system is simple and user-friendly – you can’t cut down on administrative costs if clients continually call in asking how to use the software.