In the past, businesses that wanted to charge an ongoing membership fee within Spa/Salon Manager needed to track those payments separately. With our release of the new Membership feature that’s all changed! Not only that, but we’ve rolled together several existing features in the software to make a very powerful Membership program allowing each business to create a customized Membership program that includes automated billing, discounts, and reports to track your valuable membership customers.
In order to use our new Membership feature you’ll first need to make sure you’re using our Integrated Credit Card Processing. By using X-Charge to process your credit cards within the system you can ‘vault’ your customer’s credit card information. This safely stores the information necessary to charge your customer’s card in the future without actually storing their card information on your computer. That way you get the best of both worlds – the flexibility to charge your customer’s recurring payments without the hassle and liability of storing their actual card information.
Once you have the Integrated Credit Card Processing in place you can move on to the simple setup of the Membership program. Before actually going to the Membership Settings though you’ll want to make a quick stop under Maintenance -> Loyalty -> Categorize Customers if you plan to have a special Customer Type in the program for your Membership customers. Setting a specific Customer Type for your Membership customers has many advantages – setting a service or retail discount for all sales right there on the Categorize Customers screen, marketing directly to those customers with our Mailing Reports and Email features, to even creating customized Discount Codes that can only be used by your Membership customers, creating a new Customer Type for your members makes your Membership program work for you.
Once you’re ready, go to Maintenance -> Loyalty -> Membership Settings and fill out the following information there…
- Use Membership Settings: Checking this box turns on the Membership program and makes the rest of the options visible.
- Default Payment Frequency: While each customer gives you the option to select how often their payment is due for many companies you’ll only have a single Membership program in place. In those cases this setting and the rest of the default settings saves time for each new membership customer.
- Default Payment Amount: The amount (without tax) that you’ll charge for your primary membership program.
- Default Customer Type: The membership program does far more than just charge the customer’s card each month! By selecting a customer type you can use the existing Discount Code and Customer Type features to create discounts targeted to just your membership customers.
- Default Transaction Type: This ensures that you have a valid payment type to accept credit card payments in the system. Simply select the desired payment type from the list of valid types. If you have not yet set up a valid credit card payment you can do so under Maintenance -> Transaction.
- Default Days for Expiration: Leave this set to 0 days for Membership programs that stay in place until the customer cancels them. If you’d like to have a Membership program with a set ending date you can fill in the number of days in this box to set the expiration. For example, if you fill in 365 in this box and then create a new Membership on 6/16/2014 the expiration date would come up as 6/16/2015.
- Requires Service Tax/Retail Tax: Depending on your state laws Membership fees may be taxed as either services, retail, or both. Check the proper boxes for any taxes you’re required to collect.
There’s one more important piece of information to fill in before you start selling memberships to your customers. Since all of the bills after the initial payment will be charged automatically at night, you’ll want to have someone authorized to receive email feedback letting them know when the system declines a customer’s credit card, when their membership expires, and any other important information that happens while those cards automatically process. You can set this up under Maintenance -> Management Alerts. There are three types of alerts in the Membership Program section:
- Membership Billing Declined Transactions: All of the employees you select under this option will get an email any time a customer’s card can’t be processed or their membership has expired.
- Membership Billing Errors: This is a catch-all for anything that might go wrong during billing. For example, if the computer running the billing does not have credit card processing set up the employees selected in this option would receive a notification email.
- Membership Billing Feedback: This sends a single email to each authorized employee once the billing finishes each night and lets them know how many customers the system attempted to process.
With those settings in place you’re ready to start using the Membership feature. Accessing the Membership feature is simple. We’ve added a new button to the Customer Display screen called Membership. Most of the boxes on that screen are the same ones we set the defaults for earlier in Membership Settings. That’s great news for your front desk staff since they won’t have to ever change any of those settings if you only have a single membership program! The screen will show a Start Date which will show today’s date for new customers or the date the customer entered the program for existing Membership customers. It will show a Next Billing Date which shows the next date after today’s initial payment a new customer would be billed or shows the next date that the system plans on billing existing customers. Existing Membership customers will also have a Last Date Billed which will show the last time the system successfully charged their card. Finally, the expiration date will show if you entered a default other than 0 days and the Service or Retail Tax will show along with a Total Payment for businesses that have to pay those taxes on Memberships. Also on this screen is the last 4 digits of the credit card on file as well as its expiration date. Don’t panic if you haven’t put one in yet – you’ll get the opportunity to do so when you click Continue to save all your settings. Simply fill in all of the information on the screen with the correct information for the Membership program the customer would like and you’re ready to move on to the next step. You can also Cancel a membership right from this screen with the click of one button and print out Membership Summaries for your customers that will let them see their Membership settings and billing history, either with a printed copy or an email sent directly from the program.
After hitting Continue the system will ask you to vault a credit card if the customer did not already have a card vaulted. Simply swipe the card or key in the information and click Ok to keep going. Next the program will ask you whether to use the stored credit card for this transaction. Click Yes and you’ll come to your familiar Credit Card Processing screen. The Card Number and Expiration Date will already be filled in – no need to swipe the card again. You can click Authorization Receipt to print a copy of the receipt that includes a Membership Agreement for the customer to sign. Finally, when you click Continue on the Credit Card Processing screen you’ll get a receipt for the customer that also includes their Membership Agreement.
Once a customer has signed up for a Membership their card will automatically get charged as each new payment date comes up. The Management Alerts you set up earlier will let your managers know if someone’s card couldn’t be charged or if their membership has expired so that you can quickly handle any problems with billing. Changing a credit card on file is as simple as clicking on the credit card information on that customer’s Membership Screen, so even when a credit card expires it’s a quick fix to get the customer set back up for recurring billing.
To pull all the new information together we’ve added two new reports to Reports -> Owner Reports -> Date Range Reports. The Membership Transaction Log gives a listing of all billing activity during the dates that you enter. The Membership Billing List gives you a list of customers, broken down by whether they’re Active (still getting billed regularly) or Inactive (not getting billed anymore due to a failed payment or expiring membership) and sorted by their Next Billing Date. This report gives you a glimpse of how much money you’ll likely bring in from your Memberships over any time frame as well as how much money you stand to lose if you don’t convert your Inactive memberships back to Active status. The Membership Transaction Log will be especially important in reconciling your Spa/Salon sales to the X-Charge information because Membership transactions are a special type of sale that will not show on the Detailed Daily Sheet. The Transaction Log for the current day can also be viewed directly in the program through Correction -> Membership Transactions to allow quick access to customers who had cards processed that day. The Membership Billing List can also be viewed through the Memberships button at the top of the screen and will allow you to see all memberships that have their next billing dates between certain dates, that are part of certain customer types, or that are Active/Inactive.
One last thought on the Membership program – while we’ve created a powerful system that uses the various tools in the Spa/Salon Manager to create compelling Membership programs for your customers, at its heart the Membership program is a recurring billing system. This system has applications beyond our Membership system. For example, booth rental salons that charge their employees a rental fee could use the Membership program to set up those booth rental charges. Schools could set up the system to charge tuition. Fitness clubs could use the system to charge a monthly fee just to be a customer. Basically, the Membership program is powerful but it’s also flexible enough to meet any recurring billing needs.
As we’ve alluded to throughout this article, the power of the Membership program comes from using the existing features of the program like Customer Types, Discount Codes, Mailing Reports, and Email to extend what Membership means to your customers. As always, please contact Technical Support with any questions. We’d be happy to help you find ways to use The Spa/Salon Manager to meet your Membership Program needs!