Every business has the same problem: getting registrants to pay, and pay on time. It seems like a problem that doesn’t discriminate either – lawyers, accountants, camps, leagues, conferences, etc. There are always the awesome people who pay when they are told and never bother you and then there are the people you have to track down and badger until they make their payment. How frustrating!
If only there were ways to increase the chances that you get paid, and faster to boot! Are you shocked that I’m about to tell you this post outlines 5 ways you can get registrants paying on time and even faster? No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway.
1. Make paying part of the process.
If there is only one thing you do in order to get paid faster, this should be it! Make the payment part of the registration process i.e. use an integrated payments system or email payment system with your online registration software. As registrants are entering personal information, medical information or anything else you need them to give you, make sure that one of the steps is a payment page. The page should be part of the process and obviously react to what they are ordering and any additional options you give them (maybe people from a specific state get an automatic discount so that should show up right away).
Making the payment part of the registration process might sound like a given but you will be surprised how many organizations out there have you do the process, ‘finish it’ and then only at the end have a small “Pay now” button. People can miss this button and just assume you will contact them with how and when to pay – putting off payments is a bad idea! They are already on your site and in the ‘groove’ of the registration process. Don’t quit now! You will also be surprised how many organizations send their applicants to make payments elsewhere which results in 27% of the people abandoning the process.
While you are making payments “part of the process” make sure that the online registration software you are using allows people to return to the process and make payments as well. And while you’re at it, make sure that the online application takes them to the payment page right away if this is the part they have to complete. In short: make it simple and easy for your users to pay. Don’t make them look for where to pay, don’t make them go somewhere else to pay, don’t let them think about if and how they need to pay! Just make it part of the process and your cash flow will immediately improve.
Why am I so confident that this is what is going to happen? Because the +3000 that use Regpack get paid up to 90 days faster after using the application. Why? Yep, you said it, since it is part of the process!
2. Enable registrants to pay in installments.
People have a hard time paying. Sometimes it’s just because they want to postpone the payment or they aren’t sure they want your service. Often times you will need to work with your marketing and sales people to see how you make a “mafia offer” to these clients so they will just jump on it. For the first type (those that want to postpone the payment) there are a number of reasons why:
- They could be short on money right now.
- They could have some funds coming in next month that will allow them to pay.
- It is a big amount and they just cannot pay it in one lump sum.
Often times these people will leave the process and come back to pay when they put together the money. But you know what happens…they forget, they don’t pay on time or they don’t respond to emails or requests from you to make a payment. Offering an installment plan that automatically debits them on their card of choice on agreed upon payment amounts and dates is a great way to get paid NOW but allow the registrant to not have to front all the money. This option will also mean that more people will lock in their payment and guarantee you money RIGHT THEN AND THERE instead of having to track them down and offer them an installment plan only once they’ve left the process all together. A great registration software will allow you to do this, offer a variety of payment plans that give you your total sum on time while catering to the needs of the registrant.
When offering to pay in installments obviously offer it as part of the process. If you are using a good registration software this should be a snap. Simply ask them if they would like to pay in installments while they are registering and then use conditional logic in order to trigger that option for them. If you really want to get fancy you can offer different installment plans to different people based on their prior selections.
The great thing about an installment plan is that you will get a little money in right when they register so you know they are not sitting on the fence and they will be using your service. Furthermore, it will allow you to assess your future cash flow based on the automatic payments that are scheduled. And last but maybe the most important: it will not demand any work from you or from your applicant after it is setup. The registration system should just charge them automatically on the correct date the correct amount. Magic 🙂
3. Send the bill immediately with automated emails.
If you go the route of invoicing or if a registrant fails to pay when they ‘complete’ the application portion of registration, having an automated email payments system and invoicing system setup goes a long way in saving you time (and therefore money) and ensures you get paid faster and on time.
One of Regpack’s clients, Noam Masorti Youth saw a huge difference when they started using an online registration software to manage their invoicing and email communications. They closed their programs within 2-3 weeks and received all deposits in full in that same time frame. In the past, it had taken 2-3 months to receive deposits and in that time frame, some people dropped out and left open spaces on programs that they then didn’t have time to fill, which meant lost profits and lost opportunity to engage with new clients.
I’ve written a few blogs before about how to craft payment request and confirmation emails, that will improve even more your ability to get a response from registrants and get them paying. I am adding an example of a great payment request email here so you know what you are looking for:
Example of a GREAT payment request email from an applicant
Subject: We’re waiting for your FINAL PAYMENT for Program name
We are thrilled that you will be joining us on Feb 3rd for the Program name!
I wanted to personally update you regarding your outstanding balance of $2,400.
The deadline for full payment is: January 14, 2014. Please go into the online registration system at www.yourwebsite.com/register and make a payment before the payment deadline. Once you login the system will take you right to your payment page. If you have a card on file, paying will be as easy as clicking the “approve” button.
The email you used in order to register is: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do not remember your password please use the “forgot password” option on the login page. The system will send you an email with instructions on how to reset your password.
I wanted to update you on your current order so you can make sure you are not missing anything. If you would like to add a product, you can do so through your online account dashboard.
|domestic flight||$400||Not Paid|
|Application Fee–>Application Fee||$100||Paid|
|Program Fee–> Program Fee||$2,000||Not Paid|
This is your payment history:
|44768||Check||Tue, Nov 6th 2012||$100||Approved|
Your current balance is: $2,400
If you have any questions or just want to chat, feel free to answer this email 🙂
We are looking forward to an exciting program ahead!
Your amazing program team!
(111) 111-1111 ex. 222
Helpful, well crafted emails paired with a great automated set up sending reminders at the right times will cut down your active work in tracking late payers down and improve your bottom line.
4. Consider offering a discount for full or immediate payment.
This kind of depends on your organization and if it makes sense for your client base. It also makes sense to try this out IF you are having a big issue with people paying on time or at all without tons of leg work tracking them down and asking for payments. Even a small discount, take $10 off your fee by paying NOW might make a difference, and hey, it’s worth a shot right?
Some people have found this is a huge incentive for their particular client base and could be a great option if you are finding this to be an issue.
5. Collect Payments Online 24/7 – Not just when you’re at the office.
Obviously an online registration and payment solution is something you need in order to make this work. Many organizations are still collecting payments by credit card number or waiting for checks in the mail. Not only is this SOOOO last century it’s also really inefficient when it comes to getting paid in full, on time or at all.
An online email payment system or integrated payments system allows you to collect and record payments 24/7 and with little input or work on your end. A payment solution online allows you to collect multiple types of payments, in multiple currencies (if this is relevant for you) and allows you to send automatic email confirmations, receipts and invoices all without you lifting a finger. I even wrote a blog if you want to read more about online payment systems, about why you should be taking online payments and why it’s worth the fee for the system, since cashing checks via snail mail don’t cost you anything on the surface (of course they cost you in time for processing, going to the bank and communicating manually with the sender, not to mention matching checks in envelopes with actual registrants, but I digress…!)
Getting paid on time and faster than your current method boils down to a great integrated payments system and online registration software. The biggest time killer for organization’s is just MANAGING registration and keeping up with and following up with clients who owe money, communicating to them when they’ve made a payment (so they know it was received) and asking effectively to complete their balance.
This is pretty brutal manual work and I really believe your time is better spent on better tasks, since these tasks while important, can be easily automated. The time you save giving up all this manual work, you’ll make up in a better cash flow and a smoother running organization, utilizing your staff for bigger and better things!