Things you can do to make your club a member MAGNET Part 3

For part 1, click here


For the past 10 years, I have been working with my local club to recruit more members. In my experience, recruitment is the simpler part which is discussed in this blog. Retention of members is the harder topic which I would discuss about in a later date.
I highly doubt any club owner would reject the idea of having more members. Therefore this blog post assumes that the club owner is continually looking to improve its presence for expansion, and the sake of promoting Judo within the community

For those who don't know me, my name is Sunny Chua. I've started Judo in year 2000 and have visited numerous clubs in Asia and Europe. I've seen clubs of a small mat area with more members than it could fit, and clubs with too large a mat space than was needed. I have had numerous conversations with people I've met all over the world as to why they've stayed or left a club, or continued to do Judo. I've started this small business in 2018 to promote Judo, in my own way. Check out my facebook page if you havent already.

In Part 1, I mentioned that reducing the wait time and engaging a person quickly has its benefits in forming a good first impression.
In Part 2, I mentioned the type of person you should choose (might not need to be yourself) to be the face of your club
In Part 3, I will cover a micro experience which you can easily alter to give a better customer experience: Payment
I have assumed that the said person is not so experienced in Judo (or not at all). He/She will be referred to as the "new-comer"

The blog posts are all part of my experiences being a major part of a couple of Dojos and visiting others throughout my journey.

Collecting payment  for Judo classes and why it is important

Regardless whether you're running Judo classes as a business, or not for profit, you're taking up an important resource you wont get back. That resource is time.

Being compensated for your time (via means of money/currency) means you can generate an income, pay bills, further your passion, maintain and improve the club.

Generally I have found Judo clubs to be slightly relaxed on payment, which is great in some cases, but bad in other cases.

Being relaxed on collecting payment: The good

When it comes to being a visiting/travelling Judoka, especially if you have some knowledge/skill to impart, clubs have generally not required payment for one off visits.

This could be due to the fact that they're a smaller club and any help (in terms of technical ability, bringing in a different style of randori, or just having a new face to do randori with)

Travelling Judoka doing 1 off visited generally leave with a good impression that they've made a difference as well as got their share of Judo sorted out. Good impressions leaves room for recommendations in the future

Being relaxed on collecting payment: The bad

This is part of the topic i'd like to place more focus on:

Delaying payment for classes

Often, due to the hustle and bustle of running a club, payment discussion might often be shifted to the end of class.

The chosen time-slot to have a discussion on payment isnt the greatest, as:

- people are packing up to go home

- there is an expectation that the discussion is done quickly so that everyone can go home

This results in the customer either:

- having to rush to pay, leaving them fumbling looking for cash/card to pay

- oh you can just pay another time

Both of which are not a great experience for the customer to have.

Assuming that a newcomer WILL turn up the next session, regardless of how they went, is generally not the best mentality to have. This is portrayed by the language used in conversation.

Situation 1: No available cash - pay next time when you have cash


Newcomer is obliged to come next time (What if they don't want to?)

Newcomer needs to carry cash (It's 2019, how often do people carry cash?)

Newcomer is weighed down over the next few days between training sessions regarding payment of the fees.

Situation 2: No available cash - paid with card (no need to draw cash from ATM)


Newcomer not obliged to come next time, but if they had a great experience with the club, you would definitely see them next time round)

Newcomer doesnt need to carry cash (Easy)

Newcomer isnt weighed down regarding owing people money

Therefore, it is better to prepare that the newcomer will not turn up the next session, and be pleasantly surprised when they do. Assuming that a newcomer will turn up next training session is slightly emotionally manipulative ("Oh just pass me the money on Tuesday" (next training session)) and generally leaves a slight burden in the back of the customer's head

In year 2019, people can generally expect:

Food delivered in a few clicks - 

Payment is done fairly immediately - no waiting

Getting from 1 place to another in a few clicks - Uber

New information within seconds at the tip of hand  - google/smartphones/tablets/laptops

The burden of waiting for something to be done is not present, and people in 2019 expect to not be weighed down by trivial things like being expected to pay in cash.

Merchant fees should not affect the club's ability to provide card services in 2019. The benefits of providing card services outweigh the negatives of not having card services.

However, accepting credit card often means that there are merchant fees.

Which is part of using a company's service for helping you collecting money. Generally, merchant fees are about 2% of what you charge to the customer excluding the setup cost.

For a $10 class, the merchant fee is about $0.2

For a $20 class, the merchant fee is about $0.4

$0.40 reduces the emotional burden for the points mentioned above, whose full membership is worth about $500-$1000 a year? Worth it.

Once the newcomer is serious about joining up as a member, direct transfer to bank is a better method to use and there are no merchant fees.

If you're looking for an easy payment to setup, i recommend Square up:

Here is the referral link:

Setup costs about $19 (Basic swipe) or $59 (tap) depending what hardware you use, and they charge about 2% for processing fees, which is great for small business owners like myself, or club owners.

Using the link will give me some free processing fee for the recommendation

Please read up whether your phone/tablet devices are compatible, as i have found the interface setup quite direct and easy to follow

Situation 3: Not offering several payment plans.

A club does not offer different payment plans can often backfire on them being "Too flexible" on payment.

This means if the club only accepts cash payments, on a per session basis.

The argument is that the club does not want to force people into doing Judo by making them pay for 3 months worth of class in advance.

The counter argument is that:

Every since time a customer takes out their card or cash, you're giving them an option to change their mind regarding returning the next session. This means that if a customer has to pay cash every lesson, for 20 lessons, they'll have to justify the value achieved from training EVERY lesson, for 20 lessons.

This means that if for some reason they cannot make a training session, there is an excuse to not make the next one, thus justifying the need for training if they havent already paid.

However, if there was a payment plan which covers 20 lessons or visits at a lower cost, the customer only needs to pay ONCE. If 1 session was skipped for whatever reason, they would still need to get their money's worth of training left, reducing the excuses for missing training.

This way, the club can both benefit by having some payment upfront, as well as helping reduce the hassle of the newcomer paying every visit. The club should think of it as helping the newcomer bring better value to their training sessions, rather than being forced to go for training because of the prepayment

Situation 4: Making the newcomer wait for payment details

Notes: Newcomer has requested payment details, and it is taking a while

Same concept, customer has received the service, and is in the right frame of mind to make a payment.

It is better business practice to send payment details to the customer quickly, especially when they have requested so. This allows them to make payment when they're in the right frame of mind.

If this is done too late, there is an option for them to rationalise that maybe they do not enjoy training afterall. The more time you let someone rationalise their purchase, the more chance you might lost a customer.

I would imagine that as a Judo club, your purpose would be to help people enjoy Judo. By easing up the payment methods and frequency, there is less burden of the administrative stuff and more headspace for the Judo

If you have read till the end, please comment on the facebook comments if your club only accepts cash payments, and if you have any payment plans/methods to help members get on with their Judo.

Next post I will be discussing other micro experiences you can improve, which makes a great difference to the customer journey of your potential customer


Do check out the rest of my site and look out for the TEAM SEOINAGE/ TEAM UCHIMATA tshirts, which is available for pre-order now! Mens, women, kids, baby tees available for international order

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1 comment

  • Direct Debit about 8 years ago was the best decision ever. It changed the culture overnight.
    Term fees for kids or Direct Debit for competition kids.
    Casual fees at a higher rate to encourage Direct Debit and more training. Those who train more get the benefit.

    Those who help out in coaching the kids or adults don’t pay.

    Different levels of training also encourages retention.


    Warren Rosser

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