Using Paypal? Great! Now Use it Better

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Fortunately, more neighborhood pools and clubs are starting to use PayPal for their member dues. Only collecting checks these days would be like choosing to only talk on a landline phone.

The problem is that your club is probably just jumping straight from a Buy Now link on your website to PayPal’s site. And, as of June 2018, that problem gets worse.

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The main issue here is that PayPal isn’t a good member billing / reporting backend. It processes credit card and echeck payments for your customers just fine, but it doesn’t sort your payments by product. Or list what customers bought what. You can perform searches, but anyone that has tried searching PayPal knows how problematic that is. I’ve been accepting PayPal at CartoonSmart.com for nearly 20 years now, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried searching for a customer by last name and I simply can’t find them (many times their business name nullifies a reasonable search).

Doing a lot of business through PayPal is one of those  “good problems,” but the more options / products / services your club chooses to sell, the more trouble it is to sort through payments if your backend doesn’t sort it for you. Keep in mind, I’ve talked to many club Treasurers that will say, “oh it isn’t that hard to just manually log each payment in Quickbooks (or whatever they use).” But every time I hear that, I think, “Even if it isn’t that hard, it doesn’t need to be done at all”. It’s 2018. Technology has got this!

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What many clubs currently do. The membership is probably $530, but this club has added in $16 for Paypal fees

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Where a proper payment portal comes in…

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The Pool Dues backend will organize everything by product for you. You’ll quickly be able to see how much of each product has sold, how much those products have earned, and links so you can see details on each sale (including, of course, which customer purchased the item).

And that’s just the beginning. Imagine being able to set up recurring billing options (automatic payments). Or, if the member does a 1-time payment, wouldn’t it be nice to automatically begin reminding them to pay again? And send another reminder….and another… Pool Dues can do that!

You can export payment info to CSV sorted by date range and then by product or all earnings. You can export customer data as well.

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Paypal Fees Included…

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You’ll notice in the image above the odd price of $567.05. That screenshot is from a club whose membership price is $550 but they are adding in a 3% fee at checkout.

Instead of displaying both the membership price and fee added together, the shopping cart displays them separately. You can label this 3% fee anything you want (and change the %). So it could read:

– Tax
– Tax / Fees
– PayPal Fee
– Convenience Fee
– Credit Card Upcharge

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Most people just ignore tax because we are used to seeing it added in. So if your concern is that members will question the PayPal fees being added in, you can keep this labeled as Tax (which is the default cart setting).

Also, if your members are already used to seeing the PayPal fee added into the final price, they’ll understand what the fee is regardless of how it is labeled.

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And how do you get to the shopping cart…

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As you can see, here at Pool Dues we place a lot of emphasis on design. So take a look at one of our example buttons to sign up…

Unfold and you’ll find details about that specific membership option. The beauty of this is that you can have many options listed on the same page without cluttering it up with too much detail.

 

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Family Membership – One Time Payment

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Got kids? This is the membership for you!

Make a one-time payment for your Yearly dues. Click below to pay this fee through Paypal (the final cost includes Paypal charges).

First year members, don’t forget to include your initiation dues if you haven’t already paid them.

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PayPal is requiring more security on YOUR end…

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As of June 2018, PayPal began requiring SSL certificates from merchants and other upgrades. You can read more about this on PayPal’s site (tap here).

Obviously, your Pool Dues payment portal has an SSL certificate out-of-the-box, and we are hosted on servers that include their other required protocols.

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What Types of Memberships Should Your Pool & Tennis Club Offer?

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Family membership, couples, singles, seniors? Which should your pool offer?

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There’s really no standard for what membership types community pools offer. And like most things with neighborhood pools and tennis clubs, what came before is what goes forward. But your club can always reexamine its current offerings, and the board can vote in whatever changes it deems better for the club. And obviously, that should really be the biggest factor:  what is best for the club going forward (as opposed to only considering how things were done before). 

So let’s look at some various membership types.

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Family Membership

I’ve yet to run into a club that doesn’t offer family membership, so we probably don’t need to discuss this one much. But if you haven’t read our article on why you should define what a family membership is exactly, you should. Link here.

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Couples Membership

A Couples membership makes perfect sense to me. I suggest pricing it around $50-$100 less than the Family membership price.

Remember who you are selling this membership to – married couples in their 20’s or early 30’s. They grew up with Groupon, Overstock, discount apps, unlimited Movie Passes, etc.  So your deal-savvy millennials can feel like they got a deal and, in the long run, you gain anyway. Here’s why…

  1. Many families don’t start a membership within the first two years of having a baby. So your window for getting them to join is before or after baby #1. Obviously, you want them BEFORE that first baby. 

  2. Couples memberships turn into Family memberships eventually.  If they’ve already paid their initiation fee, most likely they won’t break that to skip a summer because of a new baby.

  3. If they see “Family Membership” as the only option, they might think the pool is only for parents and kids. As most of us know, the pool is cool at any age. But we know that from experience. They might not.

Young couples ARE your future bread and butter for the pool. Do whatever you can to get them started.

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Singles Memberships

Most clubs offer one, but if your club doesn’t, maybe it’s time. Yes, I know in a typical pool community neighborhood you don’t have a lot of singles living in homes made for families, but even if you have just 15 single members join at $350 a person, that’s $5,250. And think about the potential members you are turning away…

  • Divorcees in the neighborhood

  • Friends of club members that come often enough that they should be joining (as most clubs have a rule about bringing the same guest too often)

  • People that are more interested in tennis and just looking for guaranteed court time

  • Cool, good-looking, young people! What club doesn’t want that?!

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Senior Memberships

I love the senior membership option. There are two ways of handling senior memberships if you use Pool Dues.

We can set up a Senior pricing option right off the bat, either for senior-aged Couples or Singles. Both options are available.

Or, you can use the same Couples or Single membership payment options that are available for all members, and then create discount coupons to reduce the price. Your Treasurer or other approved shop admin can create an unlimited number of coupons for a specific amount off or a percentage off.

Why do this? If your club doesn’t currently offer senior discounts but you want to make this option available to a select few members (i.e., those that ask for it), then you may want to go the discount code route.


Something else to think about. I’ve seen clubs that reward 25-year members with a free lifetime membership after that. How brilliant is that! You might have members that are 20 years in, thinking, “Well, our kids don’t swim anymore, we only go 5 or 6 times a year, maybe we should cancel”…. But if they know that after 25 years it’s free, then maybe they hang in there for a while longer.

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How to Avoid PayPal Fees for 501c Nonprofit Organizations Like Pools

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How to Avoid PayPal fees for 501c Nonprofit Organizations Like Pools

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The short answer is: you can’t. You can’t make every transaction a friend-to-friend exchange. If you try, you’ll quickly run into the limits of what amounts can be received that way. Just receiving the exact same amounts over and over again raises a flag with PayPal. They aren’t dumb. “Oh? Twenty of your friends just happen to PayPal you $9.99?  It looks like you’re selling goods here.”

And no, you can’t use Venmo either. PayPal owns Venmo by the way. They didn’t buy Venmo to make their core revenue stream obsolete. What works for splitting the cost of a 12-pack doesn’t work for an organization pulling in $75k or more a year.

Running a business nowadays requires accepting a couple of things.

1) People want to pay by credit card. It’s convenient, and sometimes buyers simply don’t have the funds available to pay by check.

2) There’s going to be a cost to accepting credit card payments. No matter where you go, how you receive it, if it’s coming from a credit card, the fees are going to be about the same. There’s really just 4 card issuers out there – Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and AmEx, and they are the ones charging the bulk of the fees (between 1 and 3 percent). So, while sites like PayPal are taking a little cut off the top for themselves, those charges are still originating from the card issuers.

So no matter how much you beg and plead, “We’re a 501c organization, we’re in this for the good of the community,” they could care less.

Geez, is there any good news? Yes. PayPal’s base rate is a 2.9% charge on funds received through them, but the more business you do with PayPal, the less that rate is. So in a month where you received $10,000 or more, that rate drops down to 2.2%.

Even better news. If you use Pool Dues, we can just pass that amount on to your members as a line item at Checkout labeled whatever you want. For example “Tax or Fees”. And by the way, Pool Dues takes ZERO per transaction. Member payments go directly into your PayPal account.

If you decide to pass on the fees to your members, obviously that adds on a % to their final cost. On a $550 Membership, this is about $15 more they will see added. Most buyers ignore this charge IF it looks like tax. If it looks like a service fee (which it is), most people understand they are paying for the convenience of buying their membership online. And unlike the credit card companies, your members DO understand you are a non-profit organization and naturally give you a little more leeway than say, L.A. Fitness trying to pass off those fees to customers.

And remember too, you can always tell people they can still pay by check. You can put the address to send a check to right below all your online payment options, and, believe me, it won’t discourage most people from paying online.

Here’s what we would recommend (and obviously your Pool Dues payment portal can set it up this way)….

Include the PayPal fees on One-Time Yearly payments, but make them exempt from Yearly Recurring Payments. So this way you push members toward the automatic payment cycle. And yes, you’ll be out the $15, but you’re guaranteed to get paid the next year, the year after that and so on (assuming the member doesn’t cancel).

You could even email members and tell them, “If you set up a recurring payment before March 1, it will be exempt from fees”. This way you’re getting member dues in February instead of the week before Memorial Day.

And your Treasurer or other shop admin can easily toggle on or off adding those fees (on a per product basis).

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What’s Your Pool’s Member Enrollment Policy?

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Seems like there’s one person every year that wants special pricing for some reason or another. Unfortunately, engaging in flea-market-style pricing is a slippery slope, and ultimately it’s unfair to other members. These requests might even sound reasonable at first, for example, here’s one made to our club…

“I am debating on whether or not I will renew since the girls rarely went to the pool the last few years. Do you have a rate option for teenager only vs. a family rate?” 

Let’s go ahead and assume your club does not have a teenager option. It might seem reasonable at first to offer them some discount or maybe even a Singles membership. But this is where enforcing a clearly defined membership policy comes into play. One way or another word will get out that your pool is willing to cut deals, and then year after year you’ll hear more of this…

“Well, my husband doesn’t usually come, so can I just sign up as a couple with my daughter?”

“My wife is pregnant, so she won’t be there, can I just drop down to a Singles membership?”

So what’s the solution?

Politely send them to your website’s Membership Policy Page where you define what’s a Family, what’s a Couple, what’s a Single, and simply remind them that this is the pool’s policy to be fair to every member. Does a gym charge less monthly if you don’t go? Does Six Flags charge more for your season pass if you go every day? No, and the same rules should apply to your club.  At the bottom of this page, we will post an example pool’s Membership Policy that you can copy and paste to your own website.

This policy can also encourage members to make the most of their membership. Members need to choose to use the pool. If they go 4 times a summer, well, that’s a pretty steep per-visit cost, but that’s on them.

To go back to our example with the family with a teenager, they are almost empty nesters. They should have weekly dinners at the pool since this is possibly the last summer with their teen living at the house. And maybe paying full price is what inspires that.

Your Membership Policy could clearly state that if your children are college age, you can then join as a Couple, and you’re welcome to bring your children as guests if they aren’t living at home full time.

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Example Member Enrollment Policy


Family Membership – Regardless of marital status, if you have children at or under the age of 18, living full or part-time in your home, you should join as a family.

Couples Membership – If your spouse or significant other will not be bringing children at or under the age of 18 to the pool, you can join as a Couple.

Single Membership – If you are purchasing a membership only for yourself, this is the membership for you.


Please understand that we do not ask for more money based on above average usage of our facilities, nor do we discount if you use it less than other members. We encourage members to make the most of their membership, and if there is anything we can do to encourage that more, please let us know.

To be fair to all members, please do not ask for special pricing exceptions. Any exceptions would need to go before a board vote and can not be decided upon solely by our Treasurer or Membership team.

 

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Get More Members at Your Pool or Club

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I’ve never talked to a single board member that’s told me they aren’t accepting new members. Maybe a high brow pool or country club exists out there that could care less about membership, but I haven’t found it. Even if things are good now, you’re always one pump accident away from a $10,000 mistake. I just sat down with a pool where the President and VP had just found out one of their new guards turned on a pump without opening a water valve and it was toast. Point is, one year you can have a surplus and the next you can be in the hole.

So it should be a given that your pool always needs new members. Especially since every new member is potentially a customer for decades. But I’m amazed at how many pool websites don’t even list their prices!  Some just link to a PDF application that prospective members have to print out and mail in. So, let’s discuss that first…

The Application Mistake

Just having an application is a huge wall to membership. First off, it’s a holdover from 2 or 3 generations ago, when a club could actually get away with denying membership based on, well, whatever they wanted to deny them for. Race, religion, etc. Imagine nowadays if a family tried to join and your club denied them sight unseen. You might end up on the news or sued.

And think back now… has your club actually denied an application recently? Probably not. It’s just a time-consuming detour between getting a member to actually join and pay. And the longer it takes to review an application, the more likely you are to lose that membership because….

  1. The member lost interest

  2. They joined a nearby club that was easier to get into

  3. Little Susie needed braces, and that expense came out of the pool fund jar

Consider why that application ever got posted to begin with. The board from 20 years ago didn’t set up an online membership payment system because a good one simply didn’t exist.  So someone just said, “Well let’s just post the application online”. And there it’s sat for 20 years.

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Upfront Pricing 

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Click above to see how we think upfront pricing should look

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There’s no need to be cagey about what it costs to join. I’ve seen pool sites where the pricing is gated behind a member login. What!?! You mean I have to be a member first to find out what it costs to be a member?!

You need to post your prices with a button that says “Purchase.” And yes, that’s obviously where Pool Dues can help out. Once you make it easy for new members to join, THEY WILL JOIN. Remember who the young, late 20’s, early 30’s families are now. They grew up with technology. They’ve never had to write checks. They might not even have checks. Compared to paying online, we all hate writing checks. It means getting up. Going to that drawer with checks. Figuring out who to write it to, then writing an address on another paper, stamping it and walking it outside. After all those steps, there’s no guarantee it even makes it where it’s supposed to go!! If you don’t already run your own business, imagine for a moment that you do… Would you only accept checks as payment?

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Here’s your ideal family deciding to join the pool….

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Wife:  I was thinking we should join the pool this summer

Husband:  Sure I guess, I’ll get on it tomorrow.

Wife: I just paid. We are in.

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See how fast that was. By slowing down that process at all, your club is losing members. People buy on impulse. They have a couple of glasses of wine at dinner with friends that are members, and without over-thinking it, they join.

It can be that simple.

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