Choosing the Right Payment System for Your Business
Paper-based payments have fallen out of favor. Learn about some of the top paperless payment apps and systems available today.
Every year, fewer and fewer people write checks and pay in cash. These days, most people prefer to pay for goods and services with plastic or at home online. As a personal trainer who may or may not have a permanent location, how do you accommodate consumers who are no longer cash-friendly or check-friendly? In this age of apps and startups, there are an overwhelming number of ways to take payments online or via mobile. With so many options, how do you figure out which one is right for you?
This article identifies some of the best and most popular payment programs for trainers and gyms. Explore the pertinent information about pros and cons, and learn about fees.
MindBody Online (http://mindbodyonline.com/) is very popular in the fitness community. This is because MINDBODY goes beyond taking payments: It’s an all-in-one system that is customizable to your needs. The software handles scheduling, point-of-sale payments, online booking and much, much more.
MINDBODY has a portal that allows clients to view your schedule, make and keep track of personal training appointments, and sign up for classes. MINDBODY handles multiple schedules; allows for prepayment, billing or mobile payments; and allows you to create promotions and loyalty programs and even offer gift cards. When you sign up, you go through an intake process so that your MINDBODY sales representative can tailor the portal to your business’s needs and then train you and your staff on how to use the program.
Other Great Features
- in-depth sales and revenue reports
- client activity tracking
- unlimited 24/7 support
- a MINDBODY app to connect you with your clients individually
- integration with your website
- integration with Constant Contact
MINDBODY monthly fees and initial setup fees are pretty high. Also, considering that you have to be trained to use the system, the initial intake and setup processes can be time-consuming.
MINDBODY fees depend on how many users you have and what your needs are. The software is $85 per month for 1–5 professionals (free setup), $150 per month for 13–20 professionals ($750 setup fee) and $225 per month for 21–50 professionals (no setup fee listed). There is also a “lite” version for independent, mobile fitness professionals. The fee for this is $30 per month, with merchant account processing fees of 2.75% per transaction.
MINDBODY processing fees are as follows:
- 1.59% qualified rate
- 2.39% mid-qualified rate
- 3.29% non-qualified rate
- $0.20 per-transaction fee
- $6.00-per-month statement fee
- $18.80-per-quarter PCI fee
Simplifythis (www.simplifythis.com) offers features similar to MINDBODY. The Simplifythis software allows you to take payments, create bundles for group classes, schedule clients and send invoices.
Simplifythis integrates seamlessly with your website, so that clients can sign up for classes, schedule appointments and pay—all at your website. The calendar syncs to all devices and allows you to manage your schedule from anywhere. Once clients book through your website, they are sent both a confirmation email and a reminder as their appointment gets closer.
Other Great Features
- prepay, recurring payment and invoicing options
- customizable cart to match your website
- iPhone and Android apps for on-the-go management
- personal logins to let clients check their appointments
The software really isn’t built for businesses that have more than 10 staff members, and the billing options are not as robust as those at MINDBODY.
The fee for the software depends on how many staff members you have. For two staff members it’s $18 per month, for five it’s $29 per month, and for 10 it’s $39 per month.
bookedIN (https://getbookedin.com/personal-trainer-online-appointment-booking-software/) offers features similar to MINDBODY and Simplifythis. bookedIN claims that its system is “So easy your grandmother could do it.” One point of difference is the “client relationship tools.”
bookedIN’s client relationship tools allow you to track health and fitness progress and session frequency within the notes section of each client’s profile. The system also comes with a free website and a booking widget for your Facebook page.
Other Great Features
- prepayment and invoicing options
- autoreminders and confirmations for clients
- a “Book Now” widget for your existing website
- customizable client Intake forms
- multiple calendars that sync to Google, Outlook and iCal
- options for discounts, deposits or tips
- payment reminders for past-due invoices
- customer support, FAQs and video tutorials
The biggest con is bookedIN’s inability to schedule multiple people for one time slot (which makes scheduling classes difficult). Also, once clients hit the embedded “Book Now” widget, they are redirected to the bookedIN website, which can be a turnoff. The free website that is offered with your membership includes minimal features, and it displays the bookedIN logo. Also, the software does not generate reports for appointments or revenue.
bookedIN has a few plan options. But no matter what the plan, you must have a PayPal account—and thus you must pay PayPal’s transaction fees.
- pay as you go ($0.39 per booking)
- $19-per-month unlimited bookings for one trainer
- $39-per-month for multiple trainers
In addition to the monthly fees and the PayPal fees, bookedIN has its own processing fees:
- free trial/basic plan: 3%
- pay as you go: 3%
- monthly plan: 2%
Square (https://squareup.com/) is very popular with retailers and local restaurants. You’ve likely paid for something at least once using a retailer’s Square device. Square has more than mobile payments to offer, and it could be a good option for your business.
In addition to enabling mobile payments, Square allows online payment and also has invoice options. The Square dashboard generates easy-to-read, in-depth sales reports, so you can track progress and analyze sales. It also allows clients to book appointments with you online.
Other Great Features
- sends receipts via email or text message
- syncs with QuickBooks™
- sends clients autoreminders for appointments
As a scheduler, Square falls a bit short. The appointment-requesting system is very simplistic and does not allow multiple bookings for one time slot. Square also doesn’t offer a prepayment option, which means you either have to accept payment on the spot or send an invoice. According to Merchant Maverick (Merchant Maverick 2014), the number-one complaint about Square is its customer support. The company has an aggressive fraud protection policy, so they may hold funds. Finally, the system has been known to crash.
Square Appointments is $30 per month for one person, $50 per month for two to five staff members and $90 per month for unlimited members.
- 2.75% per invoice
- 2.75% per swipe
- 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction for manually entered credit cards
You’ve probably used PayPal (www.paypal.com) in one form or another. PayPal works through your bank account, and it allows customers to make payments online through a secure system.
PayPal has only merchant fees; there are no monthly usage fees or extra costs. PayPal’s iPhone and Android app allows you to take mobile payments; further, a PayPal button integrates with your website and allows you to create custom payment pages. PayPal also offers a debit card that gives you 1% cash back on signed purchases.
Other Great Features
- customized sales and revenue reports
- invoicing and online payments
- live customer support
- prepayment and recurring-payment options
- the ability to deposit checks with the PayPal Here app
PayPal doesn’t have a built-in booking system; you have to set that up yourself and then integrate the PayPal buttons and cart pages. Like Square, PayPal has an aggressive fraud protection policy, and consequently it may freeze your account. PayPal also charges higher transaction fees than other payment systems do.
- $0–$3,000: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
- $3,000–$10,000: 2.5% + $0.30 per transaction
- $10,000+: 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction
- $100,000+: call for special pricing
Flint (www.flint.com) is an app designed to take mobile payments and manage your invoicing. For being only an app, Flint offers pretty robust functionality. There is no hardware for taking payments, because the app scans the client’s credit card number. All you do is position the credit card in the scan area and then enter the verification information from the back of the card. Once that is completed, the app will ask for your client’s signature.
Flint is simple and easy to use, and it’s robust enough to include functionality for a team. With Flint you can send invoices and reminders and digital coupons. You can also send invoices that can be paid online without the user signing in or registering for an account.
Other Great Features
- invoices sent from the web
- receipts sent upon payment
- a Facebook opt-in that allows users to post a message to their Facebook Timeline
- online reporting and tools
- tracking of customer data
- synchronization with QuickBooks
- management of cash and check payments
Flint just takes payments; there are no scheduling options. Also, Flint cannot integrate with your website for online payments, so you can take payments only in person or via invoice.
The app is free, and there are no monthly fees for usage. Flint’s merchant rates are 1.95% per transaction for debit cards and 2.95% per transaction for credit cards.
Securing the Program That’s Right for You
Now that you have the breakdown, which payment system is right for you and your business? That depends on how much you can budget for fees, how big your organization is and which specific features you need. If you need only to take payments, there are some great systems that charge minimal transaction fees. But if you need a tool that integrates with your website and handles scheduling, you’ll need to weigh your options with regard to monthly fees and features.
bookedIN. Accessed Oct. 13, 2014. https://getbookedin.com.
Flint Mobile. Accessed Oct. 14, 2014. www.flint.com.
Merchant Maverick. 2014. Square Review. Accessed Oct. 14, 2014. www.merchantmaverick.com/reviews/square-review.
MINDBODY. Accessed Oct. 12, 2014. http://mindbodyonline.com.
Paypal. Accessed Oct. 14, 2014. www.paypal.com.
Simplifythis. Accessed Oct. 12, 2014. www.simplifythis.com.
Square. Accessed Oct. 13, 2014. https://squareup.com.