Jerry, at one point in my past, I was the V.P. of Personal Training for L.A. Fitness. That is exactly how they chose to do the billing. At first, I thought it was a good idea, until I later saw how many problems it created. On the good side, it did create constancy in billing. But the advantages really stopped there.
On the bad side, it created many problems with billing, and was an accounting nightmare to manage. For example, often a client will not be able to keep their training times/dates due to work schedules, vacations, or life in general. So those unused sessions can start to pile up, and spill into the next month. So that if a client misses 3 sessions in one month, then you need to add those sessions as credit. The first time you train that client for following month, are you using one of the “credited” sessions, or are you using one of the regular monthly sessions? Believe me, you start to get confused over time, and so do your clients. Also, from an accounting perspective, it becomes very difficult to keep track of these unused sessions, especially when you are talking about many trainers and many clients. If you are a one man show, then the accounting aspect of this is slightly less confusing, but still requires more attention, etc.
Another reason why people might think EFT billing for personal training is good, is because the trainer does not have to ask for the sale over and over again, and have to collect money from the client. However, in my experience great trainers are ALWAYS great sales people, and have no problem getting another payment from the client. This is not a barrier to profit. Taking payments for X number of sessions, is the easiest way to keep track of remaining sessions, and the easiest way to keep the accounting straight, etc. This really presents less of a problem than EFT billing does.
Finally, there is a cost to EFT billing. A small percentage is paid to the credit card company for each transaction. When someone writes you a check, or gives you cash, there is no cost associated to that.
On the other hand, if you are teaching a group exercise program like boot camp, etc, and have 10 to 20 people in each class, then you can charge them a set monthly price using an EFT method. For this type of class, participants usually understand that if they miss a class, they still pay for it. Thus, no misunderstands occur.
Though Thomas Plummer is well known within the industry, his sales methods are not in alignment with industry standards and techniques. From a sales perspective, I would recommend Mike Chaet over Thomas Plummer any day. Having said that, Mr. Plummer does have some decent things to teach with respect to general operations.
I didn’t use this system for my business but I know a couple of gyms I used to work at, they were using the EFT system and they had a great success with it. They used EFT for both membership payments and personal training sales. I can’t see how it can be valuable to a personal trainer when he works as an independent contractor, but maybe there are some who are using this system to bill their clients with success.