As the Associate Vice President of Experience at the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, Kathy’s job is to ensure world-class member experiences keep people engaged and in the doors. Read below to see how she identified a way to improve member retention, how payment processing and billing became a vital tool toward these efforts, and how she brought a $35,000 return on investment for her organization in the first year.
How did you identify that Florida’s First Coast needed to improve payment processing?
We do a pretty decent job of collections in-house, but we only allow payments to go 30 days past due. If we don't collect on that past due payment, we automatically terminate the account so it doesn't attempt to draft again on the next billing cycle. Our biggest termination code is that lack of payment or need new account information.
I showed my financial leadership team that if we were able to use an automatic card account updater and not even have those drafts return at all, most of the people wouldn't terminate. Our retention rate drastically improved. The automatic process with Gains was very important for us, because otherwise we'd spend a lot of money and staff time to update accounts manually.
I was able to paint a picture for them saying, “Yes, we'll have this investment. However, if we were able to save a half a percent or 1% on retention, this is the return on investment that we could see because those accounts were never terminated.” Finally, that all means we're able to continue to impact many more lives every year. All that helped us get payment processing approved.
"Finally, that all means we're able to continue to impact many more lives every year. All that helped us get payment processing approved."
How has improving payment processing and utilizing full-service billing changed your day-to-day?
We launched Gains payment processing in 2018 and added full-service billing in 2020 . The card account updater being done automatically saves so much time. Also, the full-service billing team has been very helpful with resolving declines. If I have any questions or concerns they are very responsive. Their level of customer service has been very impressive. If a member has a balance in their account, we don't have to have a dedicated person sending out calls and emails on a regular basis or rerunning the payments manually. With reduced staff in all of our branches, there's been things that we've had to compromise as far as what we are going to prioritize.
"With reduced staff in all of our branches, there's been things that we've had to compromise as far as what we are going to prioritize."
This is something I can now say, “We don't even have to worry about payment declines. We've got that covered.”
How are you proving the impact this new process has had for your organization’s revenue?
After the first year, we had a similar membership makeup model with comparable active units. I was able to show the number of terminations that we had in that termination category year after year. That termination code had decreased significantly with the launch of payment processing, and we were able to measure a 1.2% increase in retention. After all expenses, we saw a $35,000 return on investment in that first year.
"After all expenses, we saw a $35,000 return on investment in that first year."
How does payment processing and full-service billing connect to the greater mission of the Y and your job?
I think it’s how the software product compliments what we do. I think I mentioned this earlier, with a higher retention rate we're able to impact that many more lives in the community. And that's our mission, right? It's to strengthen the foundations of community in the transformation of lives. That’s what we do. So not having to make those phone calls or do that back office work, our staff is be able to engage with members more.
"So not having to make those phone calls or do that back office work, our staff is be able to engage with members more."
And by having our members remain active it just gives us more opportunity to impact more lives. So my number one thing is being able to say, because we're adding this, it'll give our staff more time to engage with our members and to engage face-to-face with them.
What advice can you offer people who want to improve their organization’s payment processing or billing?
I think some people are scared of the expense and think they can't afford it. What they really have to understand is how to paint the picture for the return on investment. This extra expense, is going to allow a higher retention rate whether it's payment processing or full-service billing. That return on investment from increased retention far outweighs the expense.
"This extra expense, is going to allow a higher retention rate whether it's payment processing or full-service billing. That return on investment from increased retention far outweighs the expense."
My biggest pull with payment processing was the card account updater. It creates so much efficiency for your organization. And then full-service billing has the same thing, it creates so much more efficiency that will allow you to either engage more with your members or save you and your staff time and expenses.
Connect with a Gains specialist for a custom payments report and earn more how you can find the best way to paid.