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How to Take Payments – Guide for Personal Trainers


How you take payments can significantly affect the efficiency of your cash dashboard or bookkeeping system and how much time you'll need to keep your papers organised for the
taxman.

Many personal trainers, especially those just starting their career, find it awkward to bring up the topic of payments with their clients. When you sign up a new client, it isn't an issue, but when it comes to renewals, it can be a little uncomfortable to bring up the topic.

Having a stable and trustworthy system in place that includes popular payment methods as well as managing your clients expectations from the start can take the awkwardness out of the situation.

In this article, we discuss the range of payment options you have for both in-person fitness services and online personal training. The best solution always will be a compromise between what your clients trust the most and what works best for your business management strategy.


#1. Cheques
Cheques are still around, and the older generation may always prefer paying higher amounts this way. If you're working primarily with the elderly, you may be asked if you take cheques. Remember that they may take a few days to clear and add an extra task to your workflow, so make sure you're comfortable doing that.


#2. Cash
With the rise of contactless payments, cash is slowly going out of fashion. You may come across people who still prefer paying by cash. It may not be suitable for high ticket packages that would require your clients to walk around with an uncomfortable amount of money but can work well for some face to face clients purchasing lower priced packages.


#3. Bank Transfer
Bank Transfer is a bridge between manual and online payments since people can initiate it via internet banking. Your clients can be still in control, but they don't need to carry cash around, and most times you don't need to wait days before the payment clears. The transaction is usually free too. The only downfall is that you may need to send multiple reminders before some of your clients remember to make that payment. Using an efficient client management system can help with that, but there may still be cases where you need to remind people yourself.


#4. Recurring Payments
Many seasoned personal trainers advise newbies to get on monthly packages instead of selling session bundles as soon as possible. If your business model requires monthly payments from your clients, whether that's for personal training, group fitness classes or your online fitness coaching services, you have a couple of options.

- Standing Order, In many countries, anybody can create standing orders for regular payments that go out on the same day of the month. This way, you don't need to take your clients' bank account details, and once they set it up, it's off of their mind.

- Direct Debit, Direct debit is the automated payment method used to pay a range of bills. Your clients need to authorise you to send a request to their bank or building society with instructions on when and how much money should leave their account. It may take up to 14 days to set it up, so it may be worth taking the initial payment by card or other methods. 


#5. Card Payment
As mentioned before, most people use plastic or virtual cards for payments anywhere now, so don't be too surprised when your clients ask you if you offer that payment method. It might be worth your while if you feel it may be a barrier for some people to start working with you.

Once you decide to accommodate that request, I recommend you do your research into merchants, transaction fees, transaction times and all other T&Cs. Cardswitcher might be an excellent place to start your search. 

Here are two popular options small businesses use:

- iZettle offer both online and in-store card payment options. The setup is free for the point-of-sale app and costs you £29/month if you need a card reader plus fees.

- SumUp specialises in taking card payments purely. It costs you £19 to receive the simple card reader that needs to be on the same WiFi as the smartphone you use with the app. If you'd like a standalone device, that will cost you £69. They have a 30-day money-back guarantee if you don't like it. After setup, you'll pay the transaction fees.


#6. Online Payments
When you train your clients in person, there may emerge a need for online payment, but it's not essential. However, if you provide online personal training services, online is your only way to go. As a rule of thumb, in the online space, you'll need to figure out what methods your ideal clients trust the most and choose the one that suits your business. We list three of the most popular ones in the international space.

- PayPal was the pioneer in taking secure online payments and grew so big that you can run a business on PayPal alone. It connects to your accounts, can handle multiple currencies and has many other benefits you can enjoy if your goal is to accept clients from all part of the world. Its transaction fees will likely be higher than other options. Its solution is suitable for one-off packages as well as recurring payments, integrates with most web design platforms, and integrates directly with PT Distinction.

- GoCardless is a simple, UK based platform to take recurring payments from the UK, the Eurozone, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, the US, and Canada. GoCardless also offers an invoicing feature for ad-hoc payments, and you can sign up for free. Transaction fees will differ based on the country of sales.

- Stripe is easy to set up, has no monthly or setup fees, you'll pay the transaction fees based on the country of the payment cards used. They also provide one-off and recurring payment options.


Wrapping Up
It's worth investing some time to figure out which of these will serve your business model, once it's in motion, you can focus on the things you enjoy doing in your business.
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