Friday, October 28, 2016

Legal Collections and Attorney Letters are way too much!

Gym Collections

It’s kind of like using a sledge hammer on a thumb tack. Yeah, it gets the job done, but the collateral damage is unnecessary and causes more harm than good.  In an industry where the lifeblood of your future revenue depends solely on how you are perceived within your local community, do you really believe a member who owes you for a past-due amount of only $100-200 truly deserves to feel threatened by a law firm.  It is widely known that consumers truly believe they are being sued when an attorney letter pops up in their mail box, when in reality a lawsuit is never even considered by the firm that sent the letter (It just would not be cost-effective to file suit).  

The alternative is to partner with a collection agency who has your best interests in mind (an agency with a lot of experience in health & fitness), and cares about your future reputation.  Look, consumers know that if they fail to pay a bill on time, there are repercussions for their delinquency, and generally speaking it is understandable if a collection agency chooses to report the unpaid balance on the consumer’s Credit Bureau Report.  The collection tactic that works best is to simply appeal to the consumers’ good nature and simply inform them of their obligation to fulfill the contract they signed…, and try to work with the member and get them back into the gym…, not threaten to sue them!

Yes, there is a time and place for a collection attorney, but it’s not on balances that fall below $1,000. It is overkill, and you will see the negative impact after the damage is done, and it’s too late.

Professionalism and common sense always prevail.

Learn more about First Credit Services, and their professional Collection Approach which is geared toward Member Engagement, and maintaining a very positive reputation for everyone involved. Maybe that’s why we maintain a perfect A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau…

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Winner: Best Places to Work in Collections... Three Years in a Row!

First Credit Services, Inc. was recently selected as one of the Best Places to Work in Collections for 2016 for the third consecutive year (2014 – 2015 – 2016). The program celebrates excellence among call center work environments in Care, Collections, and Outsourcing. The award program is designed to identify, recognize, and honor the best places of employment in the collections industry. 

A sample of the categories surveyed for this accomplishment include; “Feeling Valued”, “Confidence in Leadership”, and “Contributing  economic value to a business sector”.

We are proud of our staff and share this award with our clients as they allow us to be innovative and creative with our work strategies which ultimately fosters a strong working environment. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Who will we see at Club Industry next week?

The Club Industry Show is a great event to reconnect with many fitness industry leaders and showcase new and innovative ideas, programs, or products.

The Fitness Equipment is always the biggest hit, but if you are a gym owner looking for new software, billing & collection tools, marketing and sales CRM platforms, there are plenty of great companies to meet with.

See you there!

Volatility in the Marketplace (Collections)

State and Federal Compliance Standards are causing many collection agencies to look in the mirror and rediscover what really works for them.  You will find that collection agencies are becoming specialists within very specific business segments and not simply taking on business that does not fit into their core business model and/or capabilities.

This is actually great news for creditors. They are able to locate collection agency partners who have real expertise in their business, and can actually act as a consultant and share best practices that truly work well within their specific industry.

If you really want to receive an experts opinion on trends within the marketplace make sure you do your due diligence and locate a collection partner with experience that fits your business.  There is no room within our industry for agencies who are not willing to adjust to the times.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

PCI-DSS Compliance

Tell me. How important is PCI Compliance  to your organization?

 Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a proprietary information security for organizations that handle branded credit cards from the major card schemes including Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover and JCB.

The PCI Standard is mandated by the card brands and administered by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards.  The standard was created to increase controls around cardholder data to reduce credit card fraud. Validation of compliance is performed annually, either by an external Qualified Security Assessor
 (QSA) that creates a Report on Compliance (ROC) for organizations handling large volumes of transactions.

Data Security through PCI Compliance is probably one of the most important attributes to consider when selecting a business partner who accesses your consumer’s data. Having Compliance processes in place are very important, but until an organization goes through an extensive audit, there are definitely going to be major gaps.

My recommendation is to contact a QSA right away and get started on your PCI Compliance Certification.

What do you think?

Debt Collections for Mixed Martial Arts Schools

Take a moment to review your past-due Accounts from the past year... If you have unresolved accounts on your books, we can help recover additional revenue quickly and in a very professional manner.

If you own a Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Karate, Kickboxing, or, Jiu Jitsu School you probably already know that you have very few options available to you when trying to communicate with past-due students.  You can't possibly have enough time to pick up the phone and speak with all of your past-due members, plus you should look to experts in compliance and customer service to assist you.

Studying a Martial Art is a huge commitment by both the instructor and student, and even though you as the owner/instructor have dedicated your life to teaching martial arts, some students are unable to make the same long-term commitment to training.

MMA Schools typically offer Term Contracts, and have the right to be paid based on the terms of the membership agreement. Managing a Martial Arts School is extremely costly for the Owner and every single loss in revenue impacts the schools bottom-line significantly.  

There are wonderful Companies out there offering software, payment processing, collections, and more, but the only nationally accredited Collection Agency handling late-stage collections (accounts aged past 90 days) is First Credit Services.

First Credit Services works with thousands of fitness clients across the country, and fully understands the ins and outs of collecting membership contracts for all types of fitness businesses.

Developing Clear and Concise Collection Agency Policies are extremely important items to consider for most Mixed Martial Art Schools.

Learn more at e-mail me at 

First Credit Services already partners with Software Companies, ASF Payment Solutions, Member Solutions, Money Movers, Mindbody, and more.  

Monday, February 29, 2016

Outsourcing Your Collection Process - First Party
Did you know that you can easily supplement your existing internal collection process by outsourcing all (or part) of your overall decline management process to a Business Process Outsource (BPO) provider. For example, at First Credit Services we have built incredibly effective ways of communicating with past-due members and collecting their past-due balance quickly..., plus we promptly point the member back to our clients' front desk for check in. Our Health & Fitness Clients truly appreciate our expertise when dealing with Member Service Issues.

No matter what, our research shows that most gyms can do much more to proactively speak with their members, and build a better relationship with members who visit the club less frequently.

By taking advantage of proven strategies, staffing, compliance, and technology, it can prove to be VERY cost effective to manage your declines more effectively through a qualified outsource provider like First Credit Services.

Programs can start right at the initial decline, or 15-30 days later depending on your internal resources. E-mails, Calls with Live Member Services Agents, Texting, Mailings, are all effective ways to keep in touch with lost members. Every consumer responds to different contact methods, so build a campaign that takes advantage of all these different possibilities. 

Members really do want you to call them and tell them that you want them back... we can help facilitate the relationship! Gyms who show their past-due members that they truly value their patronage are always more successful.

The data and trend reporting available by a BPO is extremely valuable, and quickly leads to improved and more efficient use of resources. Most BPO's can consistently achieve better results with a smaller staff.

"Consistency" is a key word here as well, since a BPO has the ability to maintain consistent results and has the ability to be much more flexible with its resources to ensure proper staff coverage without interruption. A BPO Client does not have to worry about personnel issues, absenteeism, vacations, technology, etc. and reaps the rewards of faster cash flow. 

First Party Outsourcing, A/R Management, and Collection Policies should be a top priority if you deal with a high volume of declines each month.

Health Club Membership Collections
First Credit Services has a long history as the leading and most innovative health club membership debt collection agency in the United States.  With decades of experience working closely with health and fitness club owners coupled with an experienced management team with decades of debt collection agency experience.  FCS offers the right mix to handle collections on health club membership debts with expertise and professionalism. Great Member Service is the main component of our success.  FCS manages both first and third party collections for many of the most prominent fitness brands across North America.

First Credit Services has built a department 100% DEDICATED to our Health Club Clients that require a customer service driven approach to debt collections. We offer health club collections in a way that impacts your fitness business positively.  Most Health & Fitness Club Collection Processes require a more detailed approach to ensure fewer members fall too far behind.

Your Collection agency should help save memberships, so make sure you understand your agency's core philosophy... Ask your Collection Agency Partner these simple questions:

Q. Does saving a member mean as much to you as simply collecting money? 
A. Yes, because we understand a saved member has much more value than a quick buck. We help facilitate Member Reinstatements.

Q. Do you work as an arbitrator to try and resolve issues, or are you too forceful in your collection tactics?
A. Look, customer service should always come first, and everyone loses when your agency treats your members with disrespect.

Q. What security Measures do you have in place to protect membership data?
A. FCS has the Controls in place to protect data and remain 100% Compliant. FCS is SOC 2 Type II Certified and PCI-DSS Level 1 Compliant.

Q. Do you employ enough resources to reach my members on the phone on a consistent basis?
A. Yes, FCS operates 3 Call Center Locations and employs over 300 Call Center Agents dedicated to gym membership collections.

Review your Agencies Ratings with the BBB, and CFPB.  Research Online Reputation Management to see what consumers say about the agents. Make sure your agency responds to customer inquiries and/or complaints in a prompt and efficient manner. If your agency does not respond it looks really bad, and leaves you to deal with unhappy customers.

There is a vast difference between the high and low quality debt collection agencies representing the Health & Fitness Industry.  Health Club Membership Collections does become much more successful when your agency partner has the resources in place. 

Also, if you handle the collection process internally, it could be a big mistake.  Remember, your staff needs to remain happy and friendly, and collecting past-due memberships is a very hard job.  Allow a reputable agency to assist. All health club membership collection needs to be handled in a back office away from the rest of your membership population.

Honestly, there is so much more to go over, and keep in mind that a quality agency should be able to discuss these and other issues with you, and offer back-up documentation to prove they are worthy to handle your business. In short, ask a lot of questions, and try to unmask your debt collection agency.  An Agency may not have the ability to supply you with sufficient information, which would be a red flag.

First Credit Services will be Exhibiting at IHRSA 2016

IHRSA is the best event in the Health & Fitness Industry each year. Attendees come from all over the world to find out what the next big thing will be in fitness. It's a great time to reconnect with friends and colleagues from some of the most prominent fitness brands.  As with most industries, Technology has been at the forefront the past few years, and 2016 is sure to follow that trend once again with some exciting new product developments and product enhancements.

Last year, a lot of the excitement was geared toward the smooth integration of advanced technology into indoor cycling, and I expect to see more of the same in Orlando this year. 

The Trade Show floor is always filled with new and exciting products that inspire every fitness professional to continue innovating and pushing the envelope further.

In my sliver of the fitness pie, (Billing, Collections, Member Retention) where we are responsible for communicating with the members outside of the club, we have spent the last year developing new technology which allows us to stay ahead of the compliance curve in the United States. Federal Regulations continue to stifle the way we communicate with consumers, and we continue to come up with innovative ways to feed the revenue cycle and keep a gyms bottom-line extremely healthy.

Will we see you there?

Here is a link of all exhibitors expected:

First Credit Services will be attending the 2016 Fitness Leaders Summit

Fitness Leaders Summit 2016 is going to be held at the Reunion Resort in Orlando, FL. The event will be held on March 18-19, the weekend leading up to IHRSA 2016.  So, if you are planning on attending IHRSA this year, this is a more intimate setting for some smaller regional health & fitness organizations. If you are looking for more in-depth industry knowledge from some of the most influential fitness industry veterans, here is your chance to be part of something exciting.

Learn more about the event produced by Fitness Leaders Alliance:

See you there!

About First Credit Services and FCSBPO

First Credit Services was established in 1993 as an A/R Management and Collection Company servicing several different industries including Health & Fitness, Healthcare, Auto Finance, Insurance, Utility, Direct Marketing, Education, and more.

We offer all phases of Decline Management, Billing, Collections, in a fully compliant and customer service oriented environment. We employ a large staff of experts who are trained in the most up-to-date forms of communication and strategy. 

FCS offers a very secure infrastructure including an off-site (State-of-the-Art) Data Center interconnecting our 3 strategic call center locations.  We are SOC2 Type II Certified and PCI-DSS Level 1 Complaint.

Our First Party (Outsourcing) Group offers clients a way to cut costs and rely on FCS to watch over all Staffing, Technology, Compliance, Reporting, Procedures, Customer Service, Auditing, Quality Control/Assurance, Call Monitoring, Strategy, and more to ensure best-in-class results coupled with a fully compliant solution.

Our Dashboard and CRM Tools link seamlessly with our client's current software offering a seamless integration between our staff and yours.

learn more about our services at
Health & Fitness:
First Party and Outsourcing:
Other Industries: