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« Back Post Date: Friday, February 09, 2007
Online Member Statements and Payments Update
Recent enhancments made to Clubessential's statement diplay and payment systems.

Clubessential Enhances
Online Member Statements and Payments
By Dr. William D. Ivers

A nicely maintained website only has value if members visit it.  There are many ways to drive traffic to a website, but one of the most effective is to offer members the opportunity to view their statements online and even pay their bills online.

Clubessential recently enhanced its Online Member Statement display system, Clubessential recently enhanced its Online Member Statement display system, including [Continued from above]:

  • Integration of the style sheet for the website with the statement display.  This makes the statement look like it belongs with the website, providing a more sophisticated feel and increasing confidence in the data displayed.
  • New “branding” graphics allow creative additions to the statement as well as functional items, such as links to the accounting department for inquiries.  It is even possible to announce key events on the statement page, linking to other parts of the website, registration forms, etc.
  • Seasonal branding can be set up so that, for example, Thanksgiving themes can automatically display during November.
  • Clubs that close their books in the middle of the month are now supported, as are clubs with multiple accounts per member.
  • Clubessential now supports “minimum” accounts that are on a different cycle from the billing cycle, including multiple minimum accounts on different cycles.
  • Drill down to individual chits shows all the chit detail, and allows for member printing.
  • The choice of fields, their names and their size can be adjusted for each club.
  • Clubessential’s system now works with 15 member billing systems including the most recent addition of Clubsystem Group’s ClubSelect (with SQL database).  There is no charge for these interfaces and no charge to convert from supporting one billing system to another.
  • The system is tightly integrated with the website – a single sign-in gives the member access to both.  More importantly, because the website and the statement display are integrated, the member seeking billing information will be exposed in the process to your latest descriptions of upcoming events and services (this is known as “Cross Marketing”)

Besides all these changes, the biggest enhancement was the addition of the “Click here to pay your bill” button.  Key advantages of this Online Member Payments system include:

  • Cash is transferred by CheckFree, the number one cash transfer institution in the industry.  The largest banks use CheckFree to do their transfers.  Also, many of your members already use CheckFree to make other payments, so their name and methods will be familiar.
  • No additional sign-in is required because the payment system is tightly integrated with the website.
  • Cash goes directly from the member’s account to the club’s account in one business day.  No lost interest and no period of time when the cash is pooled with other clubs’ cash in “legal limbo” in some third party’s account.  This is an important issue, because if dozens of clubs have all their cash floating in some third party account, millions of dollars can be at risk.
  • Transfers of as much as $50,000 are allowed.
  • CheckFree keeps all the sensitive financial information – sensitive information is not stored on Clubessential’s servers nor on the club’s servers.  This is an important liability consideration.
  • The system automatically knows which account is associated with a member – no accidental payment of some other member’s bill – a problem alternative systems may have.
  • Every time a member signs up or changes to a different account, there is no paperwork for the club’s accountants to handle – CheckFree manages the changes automatically.  You can imagine how often there would be changes if 500 members were using the system, so this is a great time saver.
  • Once payments are made, accountants can view a handy online “payment console” to review transactions and then forward them for automatic posting in a batch.
  • Members like the fact that they are in complete control: if they don’t push the button, no payments are made.  This solves the problem of the harried father who owes $30,000 for a wedding but hasn’t transferred the cash to his account yet.  It would not be amusing to go through recovering from a bounced automatic transfer of $30,000.
  • Best of all, the cost is 50 cents per transaction – way less than it costs just to open envelopes and post checks and roughly a tenth the cost of credit card fees.  The 50 cents fee even applies to $30,000 payments.
So, if you want to create a lot of traffic on your website while offering a nice service for your members (not to mention clearing up confusion about billed items the members don’t remember), you may want to consider statement display and payment.