Warrior Factory is a thriving martial arts academy in Yorkshire. It provides taekwondo and Ju-Jitsu training to members from under 6 to over 60. Its taekwondo club in Halifax is the second biggest in the UK, while its school in Leeds is home to one of just two clubs that are registered with British Taekwondo to provide Olympic style training.

Founder and head instructor Phill Payne has long recognised the value of taking membership payments by Direct Debit. “It means you can get paid up front,” he explains, “and makes it easier to collect than having to deal with cash.”

However, his initial experiences with Direct Debit left a lot to be desired. The first two bureaux Warrior Factory used both went out of business. A third proved too expensive and finally a fellow martial arts school owner recommended that Phill try SmartDebit.

The SmartDebit team booked an appointment to talk me through the process. They showed me exactly what I’d need to do and the whole experience was excellent.

Simple and straightforward from the start

Phill switched to SmartDebit’s managed service to help him collect Direct Debit payments from around 60 members in Leeds, who pay monthly. The service has proved a refreshing change from his previous providers. “The SmartDebit system is simple and straightforward – especially the reports.”

A further important element for Phill – given his experience with the first two bureaux – was that with SmartDebit, all customer payments go into a ring-fenced, identifiable trust account, outside SmartDebit’s own bank account. “That definitely made me more comfortable.”

Switching to SmartDebit

The benefits of SmartDebit for his Leeds business were enough to convince Phill to switch to SmartDebit at his Halifax site too.

We were using a provider that was pre-integrated with the gym management system we bought. It sounded great in theory – it would mean automated payments based on member information and bookings. But in practice, it didn’t quite work.

Though collections were arranged for the 1st of each month, they would rarely go through on that date: instead, it could be any day up to the 5th, which was an issue for both customers and Phill’s own cashflow. Furthermore, the payment provider was taking 5% of all collections each month, plus a monthly fee – and doing so before transferring funds to Warrior Factory. “That made it almost impossible for us to reconcile our accounts,” he explains.

There were also a number of frustrations around the cancellation process. “When someone cancelled their membership, you had to manually cancel the Direct Debit in the gym management system too or it would run it next time automatically.”

To address these issues, Phill turned to SmartDebit – and the process is now much more reliable. “The transition was managed smoothly, and now there’s very little admin for me to worry about. Billing is clearer: instead of the fee being taken out of the collections, it’s shown separately so I can manage my books better. And when somebody cancels the Direct Debit, with SmartDebit I know it’s cancelled. It’s simple, straightforward and reliable.”