Brandon Sebald knows a thing or two about being in shape. As a former tight end for the University of Miami, the football player turned entrepreneur is now imparting his passion for health and toned muscles as owner of four successful Planet Fitness gyms.
Stretching from his stomping grounds of Miami to the northwest corner of Arkansas, Sebald’s handful of locations cater to some 30,000 members, the size of a small city. Managing that many customers can pose a challenge, especially when accounts become due. That’s why Sebald came to CallFire to help cut down on costs associated with collections by using the SMS text messaging and voice broadcast solutions.
“90-95% of what we use it for [are] delinquent fees that we’re trying to collect,” says Sebald. “[We also use it] for some special promotions or refer a friend and get a free month membership.”
Before coming to CallFire three years ago, Sebald was using traditional forms of correspondence such as phone calls, letters and email. While he still uses a combination of these, using CallFire’s SMS text messaging has dramatically cut down on the cost of collections.
“The return on investment is incredible. The small amount we pay, if one member comes in and pays, it’s worth it for us.”
CallFire’s SMS text messaging solution is one of the most popular tools for businesses to keep in touch with customers because of its affordability. For just pennies per text, companies can freely contact clients without worrying if the time, effort and expense is worth the pursuit.
For Sebald, approximately 10% of his clients are late with their payments each month. Relying solely on phone calls and mailed notifications takes hours and precious dollars away from the bottom line.
“We send out up to three texts the first week to those customers.” That number goes up to five or six texts by the second week if customers have not responded. “That’s when the phone calls, letters and emails get sent out,” says Sebald.
However, with CallFire’s SMS text messaging solution, the immediate response by most customers cuts down on the need to rely on the other forms of communication.
“We always have a link in the text where we direct them to PlanetFitness.com. We also put our number there so they can call the club right away. They call the number and they handle the billing issue right away. That’s the easiest and best,” says Sebald.
“If they go through the website, that’s also really easy and they can just go to it right from their phone. They just go to the website and there’s two or three clicks that they need to make the payment.”
Studies show that text messaging is one of the best ways of communicating to people in a world dominated by mobile phones and other devices. 91% of the world’s population owns a cell phone and text messaging has a nearly 100% open rate, so messages are practically guaranteed to be received and read.
CallFire’s SMS text messaging solution can also help manage staffing issues.
“The biggest thing for us is, we can see that when we text our customers we’ll get more calls coming in. We’ll send out a couple thousand texts and we’ll staff an extra person or two. We have to plan for the time we send them out because we know there will be an increase in call volume.”
Of all of Sebald’s Planet Fitness locations, he has sent out some 243 campaigns accounting for thousands of texts and subsequently thousands of successful collections.