It is important to give clients and customers alike different options for paying you for your products and coaching services, and to make the process quick and easy!
Before you accept a dime though, open up a business bank account, if you don’t have one already, so you can deposit checks made payable to your business name. Online credit card and other payment processing companies will make direct deposits from client payments into that same business bank account. Check with the bank manager or business account specialist at your preferred bank for details on what they need to help you open a business bank account. TIP: You don’t have to tell them you have a coaching business, per se, as they might not understand what that is. “Sports coach?” Don’t even entertain that conversation with them. Just tell them you run a consulting business, and they’ll be just as happy to open up a business account for you.
From a tax perspective, it’s a good idea to avoid depositing payments into your personal bank account, in order to take advantage of certain business tax deductions. You’re running a business not a hobby. To take advantage of the many tax benefits BUSINESSES receive, you should have and use a business bank account.
INVOICES & PAYMENT AGREEMENT FORMS
Before you accept any form of payment from your coaching clients, unless you have your payment terms spelled out in your Coaching Agreement, get them to sign a separate payment invoice/agreement that states specifically how much they will be charged and for how long (i.e., how many payments).
Contracts are binding, and you want their money. If there’s ever any dispute over monies, refund requests, or they didn’t recognize your name on their bank/credit card billing statement, so they asked their bank to initiate a charge back request against your company, where the bank goes after you to refund a client’s money back to the credit card holder, it will help your defense if you have the client’s authorized signature on a document that states the amount they authorized to be charged and what for (i.e., coaching with you). These are rare situations, but nonetheless, it’s wise to be prepared.
Here’s what a Coaching Client Payment Agreement Form looks like, which available to you for purchase on MyTrainingCenter.com.
An alternative to having a client’s signed signature on a separate payment agreement, like the one you reviewed on the previous page, could be to include your payment terms in the actual Coaching Agreement that must be signed and returned to you in-person, via fax, USPO or eMail. A sample Coaching Agreement is also provided in your free forms package. Check it out!
You’ve got your first coaching client on board. The client is ready to sign the Coaching Client Agreement, and he/she asks, “How do I pay you?” Be prepared! Here are a number of options for how you can get paid by your clients.
Why are you accepting cash? Whatever the client’s situation, he/she might not want the transaction recorded, but you better. Deposit the cash, all of it, into your bank account or let them deposit it for you. I’ve let clients do that before. It saves me a trip to the bank. Seriously though, accepting cash is fine, as long as you report it as income (via bank deposit), and do give the person a receipt. In that way, you have a record of the transaction. Generate an invoice and have them sign it. That can be the client’s receipt. For future cash payments, generate a quick invoice/receipt you can either print from your computer or eMail to the client for their records. RECORD EVERYTHING when cash is accepted.
Who writes checks anymore? Some people prefer that method. However, while checks are an acceptable form of payment, here are a few things to keep in mind when accepting checks for payment.
Before you tell your client to MAIL the check to you, ask if he/she would deposit the payment at your bank for you. I’ve had clients take their checks, payable to me, walk into my bank (assuming it’s convenient), and make a simple deposit over the counter. I gave them my bank account number, told them who to make the check payable to, and voila! Their money was in my bank account faster than they could MAIL it to me! It may take 24-48 hours for a check to clear, but it would take more time for the person to mail the check to me, not including time to deposit it and wait for the funds to clear. When clients make deposits on your behalf, I let them keep the deposit receipt for their records. I know who made the deposit because my bank statement has a record of every check deposited. It’s a fairly simple way to get paid quickly and have a record of the transaction.
If the client does mail a check to you, make a copy of it for your records, place the copy in the client’s folder, and THEN deposit the check IMMEDIATELY into your bank account. CAUTION: If it’s for a large amount, you might call the respective bank to see if there are funds available to clear it. You don’t want to deposit checks into your account that don’t have the funds to back them up. Create a payment folder for each client, and file any and all copies for your records. If there’s ever any question about payments, you have a record of everything!
If the client’s check does not clear (NSF), call the client immediately. Do not procrastinate on this issue! If you get a notice from your bank, take a photograph of it with your phone, or make a copy of it, and send it to the client with a copy of the bank notice for their records. Include a revised invoice stating how much is owed to you and any penalty for the bounced check and your inconvenience. Be firm, professional and stay on top of the matter to ensure you get paid. You don’t want to scare away a good client.
Some online payment processing companies allow for eChecks, a method of extracting money out of someone’s checking account with their bank account number, bank routing number and their authorization. If this method is available to you, by all means, use it if you can/like.
ACCEPTING CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS
There are several ways to collect credit card payments from clients and customers. You don’t even need a merchant account any more to do this. Sure, having a merchant account is nice to have when you charge a client’s credit card and the monies charged get deposited directly into your bank account within 2-3 days and not some third party account like you might have with PayPal.com, ClickBank.com, JVZoo.com, etc. If, however, you don’t mind that the money goes into these other third party accounts, and you don’t mind operating your funds out of them, by all means, use them to process credit card payments. Here are a few scenarios to be aware of when it comes to collecting credit card payments from your clients.
CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS USING
MOBILE & TABLET SWIPE DEVICES/APPS
First, ask yourself, is your coaching client in front of you where they could physically hand you their credit card? If so, you could swipe it through a tablet or mobile phone credit card reader provided by companies like PayPal.com, Stripe.com, and SquareUp.com, among others. Depending on the payment processing company you apply to, they’ll most likely send you their mobile credit card reader for FREE. You can apply to any (or all) of them and use any reader you like best.
The transaction fees are quite competitive and affordable. For example, pay 2.75% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. So, swipe $100, and you’ll see $97.25 in your bank account in one to three business days. That’s pretty normal across the board with all these companies offering mobile swipe devices. But check though, some companies will deposit the monies in your bank account, while others will hold the monies in your account with that company, such as PayPal.com.
You would then have to initiate a bank transfer to move those monies into your bank account. It’s all about how you want to handle your funds. I’ve listed some of these mobile swipe processing companies in Chapter 4: Coaching Tools, Websites & Resources. Check with each company for their current pricing, features and benefits, then pick the best one for you.
CLIENT PAYMENT SCENARIO: Your client’s sitting in front of you, and he/she fills in your Coaching Client Payment Agreement Form, including their credit card information on the form. Even though they’re in front of you and you’re going to swipe their credit card on your phone, you still want to record (on paper) those credit card numbers in case something happens with that mobile transaction. Plus, for future payments when the client’s credit card is NOT available, you’ll have the information you need on paper to process the card via an online virtual terminal or other means provided by your payment processing company.
PHONE / FAX / MAIL / CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS
If you can’t actually swipe the credit card in a mobile device, you can rely on the client to send you a signed Coaching Client Agreement Payment Form along with credit card information. Whether it’s a signed contract or provided to you by phone, here are a few options:
BY PHONE: First, while you might take the client’s credit card billing information by phone, you should have his/her signature on your Coaching Client Agreement Payment Form before you charge the credit card. This is the safest way to go when using credit cards to accept payments.
OPTION 1: Once you have credit card authorization and billing information, log into your online payment processing account (with the company of choice), and process the payment via online virtual terminal they provide, IF they provided one. A virtual terminal is an online payment processing tool associated with your merchant or other payment processing accounts that you fill in with the client’s credit card and billing information.
How do you know if you have a virtual terminal attached to your payment processing account? Ask the company who provided you with your merchant or payment processing account. They’ll tell you if you have one or not, or if you have to pay extra money to have one linked to your account.
If you have a virtual terminal or similar tool associated with your payment processing account, enter the client’s billing information in the appropriate fields and then click the SUBMIT button. In seconds, you’ll know if that transaction has processed successfully or failed. If it failed, re-enter the information again. If it fails again, contact the client immediately. Verify the correct billing address and confirm the credit card numbers you wrote down on the Coaching Client Agreement Payment Form. If the transaction was successful, depending on your payment processing company, you will see the money deposited in your account either instantly or within 2-3 business days. DONE! As your repeat business grows, repeat this process if needed when the next payment is due.
OPTION 2: Once you have a signed Coaching Client Agreement Payment Form in your possession, and you don’t have a virtual terminal, depending on the payment processing company you use, you could create what is called a Product Buy Me Button/Link within your account. You can then use this method to charge your client’s credit card.
PayPal.com, for example, has this ideal feature. Simply click on PAYPAL BUTTONS under MY SELLING TOOLS and you can either 1) create a new PayPal button or 2) copy an existing one to build a new button with similar settings.
Each button is given a specific name, a price, description (optional), and other attributes related to coaching package products. Is it a one-time purchase? Is it a subscription (recurring charge) with an end-date? These details get worked out when you create a button/eMail link to charge a client’s credit card. [SEE ILLUSTRATION TO THE RIGHT]
After you create this button, you have the option to either copy and paste a HTML button code into your website, which is something you don’t want to do at this time. Instead, click on the eMail tab [SEE ILLUSTRATION BELOW] and look what you get …
A link which you could actually copy and paste into an actual eMail [SEE BELOW] to your client.
Or, you could copy and paste that very “Email link”, into any browser. You would then be taken to a shopping cart preview page where you would verify the purchase of that particular (coaching program) product. Once you’ve verified the description and correct billing amount to be charged, click the CHECKOUT BUTTON to proceed to pay for this coaching package product using the client’s credit card information, which was provided to you either over the phone or on the Coaching Client Agreement Payment Form.
Simply fill in the billing information yourself, as if you were the client, review your entries, click the SUBMIT button, and voila! Your client just paid for their coaching with the credit card of their choice, by your own hand. How easy was that? Again, the transaction will either be a success or it might fail. You never know. 99% of the time, the credit card usually goes through, and the money is all yours soon.
If you prefer that the client click on the link and enter their own credit card information, then copy and paste that button “payment link” into an eMail that looks something like this … [SEE EMAIL BELOW]
This same procedure can be done with your shopping cart system. Products can be created in the name of your coaching packages, along with a description and a price per package. Once those are created, they’ll each have their own payment links, which you can use to recreate this entire process for future clients.
MANUAL & RECURRING CREDIT
This would be a good time to bring up something very important about charging your clients’ and customers‘ credit cards. That is, to define the difference (and benefits) to manual and recurring credit card charges. Here it goes …
MANUAL CREDIT CARD CHARGES … Simply, this is where you personally enter the credit card and billing information of your clients’ credit cards into your online (or mobile) payment processing virtual terminal or similar system. This is a manual process, and while doing it once or twice might be alright, you surely don’t want to be doing this for every client or every payment due. You could, and the benefits are that you can manually keep track of when people paid and if there were any problems, etc. The downside, is all that time you have to take, or hire someone, to get this done. Imagine, if you have 10-20 clients per month, along with the sale of products, do you really want to be wasting your time entering in all that information? Not really. But, if it has to be done, it has to be done, right? Well, keep reading …
CLIENT-SIDE MANUAL CREDIT CARD CHARGES … This is where your client takes the required action on their own to click on a link, either in an eMail or on your website, enter their own credit card and billing information, and click the submit button, deal with success or a failed transaction, and if needed, try a new card on their time and dime. This is a time-saving procedure for you to get clients to pay for their coaching on their own time. Now, imagine 10-20 clients paying for their own coaching on their own, and as instructed, before their next session.
RECURRING CREDIT CARD CHARGES … This type of charge is where a client’s credit card is charged on a recurring, on-going basis for a set period of time, such as 6 monthly charges of $X per month for 6 months in a row, or until canceled.
The beauty about recurring charges is that once you (or the client) initiates the first charge, you can almost “charge it and forget it!” All future charges will happen automatically according to the time cycle you set, how many charges you set and the amount you set. Upon each charge, credit cards are charged and the monies are deposited automatically right into your bank or online account.
It’s to your benefit to get as many clients who are on monthly payments to enroll into automatic recurring credit card billing. They’ve already committed to paying that much per month on a particular credit card, why not set them up on a recurring billing cycle? All you have to do is tell them that’s how you handle clients on multiple payments.
In order to set up a client on recurring billing, you’d have to check with your merchant account, shopping cart and/or payment processing company to see if they allow for recurring billing. Many do, and some don’t. You have to ask. Call up customer support if you have to and ask, “Does my payment processing account allow for recurring billing, and if so, can you show me where and walk me through an example of setting it up so I can use it with a current client of mine?” Most likely, they’ll be more than happy to help you with your request. Let’s say you found out that you do have recurring capabilities, now what? Well, here’s what the average screen looks like when you’re setting up a recurring billing “product” (coaching program package) with multiple payments.
Do note, if you offer a coaching program with the options to make a single one-time payment OR multiple payments, you would then treat each payment option as separate products within your (shopping cart/payment) system. Here are a couple of examples:
PRODUCT #1 | SKU# 10383
“GET FIT” 3-Month Coaching Program
(1 Payment of $900)
PRODUCT #2 | SKU# 10385
“GET FIT” 6-Month Coaching Program
(6 Payments of $300/Mo.)
The coaching packages you see on this page are individual products added to a shopping cart system, because they offer different payment options. So, they must be entered into the system as different products. The first product offers a single payment option, while subsequent products (of the same title) offer multiple payment options.
Below, you’ll see a list of coaching packages in a shopping cart account of a typical Health & Fitness Coach. Pay close attention to the titles. Can you see the difference between single and multiple payment products?
Depending on how your client wants to pay you for a particular coaching package, click on the coaching program title / payment plan, copy/paste its unique payment link, then send that payment link to the client via eMail. This will enable the client to click on it and pay you for your coaching. It’s that easy. Sending out payment links to your clients to take care of on their own saves you time and helps kick-start them into action coaching with you. As soon as they pay you, they’re ready to start coaching! There’s something psychological to letting clients push money your way. ACTION! SKIN IN THE GAME! It’s a great way to get clients started off on the right foot. GET THEM TO PAY YOU FIRST!
So far, you’ve learned about THREE clever ways to collect credit card payments from your coaching clients is to (1) in-person, swiping their credit card through a mobile phone credit card reader; (2) send your client a payment link via eMail, which they click on to make payment; or (3) simply process their credit card payment yourself using the same payment link, which you would then enter their credit card and other billing information into the checkout page of your shopping cart / payment processing system.
Now, are there more ways for clients to be able to pay you via credit card or PayPal? Absolutely! Continue to the NEXT section and we’ll go over some of the other payment methods coaches can use to collect payments from their customers and clients.
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