Following a letter raised in English Bridge, we thought more clubs may be interested in alternative ways of processing club membership fees. Below are a number of the responses we have received:
We formed a “going cashless” group and moved immediately to bank transfer being the preferred payment method for subscriptions, training courses and the “pairs” league. We considered tokens for table money but security over and storage of unsold tokens, potential issues if a member lost their tokens, organising the sale of tokens and a desire to reconcile table numbers to Bridgewebs meant it just wouldn’t work for us. We also considered selling cards for 10 sessions (much like coffee shops use as loyalty cards) but these presented very similar issues. The alternatives were a swipe card club management system or a card payment device. When our Chair reported back on seeing the iZettle card payment machine used at an EBU event in Oxford we invited Bev Purvis to the Club to talk us through the system.
At £20 we considered the purchase of the iZettle card reader a sound investment to see if it worked for us. Step 1 was to set up an account with iZettle including bank details (therefore I would recommend the user name and password are not widely publicised). Pairing the iZettle with a mobile phone for Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity was an easy process. We then set up our product list: the various sessions we hold, visitors, SIMS etc. We were ready to go.
In our first trial we collected cash and card payments at playing tables in the same way as we had always collected cash. An orderly collection could only begin when everyone was seated and it proved impossible to collect payments before the start of play. Time for a rethink.
Trial 2: we set up a cashiers table. On arrival members were given a token as a receipt for a cash or card payment. These were collected just prior to play. But on busier nights with maybe 18 tables it was still too slow. Trial 3: we read about a function, developed for street entertainers, only available for use with Apple devices which allowed us to set up the iZettle to take repeat payments of the same product. (Previously the iZettle went through a receipt screen and then needed to be set up for the next payment). With the kind donation of an ipad mini, we’d cracked it.
In October 2018 card payment became our preferred method for table money payment. We have perfected the system now so that we can cope with chip and pin payments although contactless card payments are faster. We continue with issuing tokens as receipts and have a team of wonderful cashiers.
We have always reconciled our table money to Bridgewebs and after taking out non-payers, can monitor any shortages. These have not been significant. Most important is for cashiers to ensure a payment is approved before moving on to the next. There have been blips: Wifi failing/down, no cashier available, equipment not charged, an unexpected lapse in some individual payments being included in the daily iZettle deposit to the Club account, logging out of the programme (and not knowing the user name/password), editing a “product” in error, to name just some. But things have improved in with time.
We continue to take cash payments but with gentle persuasion we are reaching over 90% or more of payment by card at some sessions. Others can be less and certainly we have some members who are resisting strongly and vociferously!
As a large, VAT registered Club we have employed a manager to count and bank cash for many years. For us the fee of 1.75% deducted by iZettle before deposit to the Club bank account represents a cost saving. It may not be viable for all Clubs. Deposits after fees reach our account about 4 days later; as we use a cloud based accounting system we can easily monitor this. We can log in to iZettle for daily or monthly sales reports broken down in to our “sessions”, to view our account statement detailing deposits made and fees deducted and to look at individual sales receipts in case of member queries.
FAQ’s: yes, we can take Amex, Apple/Google pay, chip and pin. We can take double payments for a partnership but experience tells us that it is quicker to take two. If you have any further questions I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and would be happy to answer questions on the iZettle or cloud based accounting. Or get in touch and pay us a visit; you would be made very welcome.
Caroline Hartley, Treasurer, Cheltenham Bridge Club
Last year, they introduced a modified system where members could choose to pay by standing order, about two thirds did so but the still collected some cash. They then realised that Scorebridge means they know how many times each person has played, so this month they have gone cashless. Each player now pays £35 now (January) (and £35 each subsequent year), which is their membership fee of £15 plus ten “visits” at £2 per “visit”. With a small number of members choosing to pay by cheque, rather than bank transfer.
The club asked all their members to make the payment as a bank transfer (from the members account to the club account), this way they have a record on the bank statement of who has paid.
The aim is to check in April and August, counting up how many times each member has played and ask for a further payment as required (with a small addition or subtraction for anyone who ends the year over or underpaid).
It is early days but they have already noticed it is one less thing to do at the start of a duplicate session. As usual there are other consequences, e.g. visitors (a small number) so they have decided not to charge them, and use it as an "advert" for the club, up to a maximum of three times for any person.
The guests are recorded in a small book next to the laptop running the session, it works because they know all the members and only have a small number of visitors. If they are local they use it as a way of trying out the club, and if they manage duplicate sessions they are then encouraged to join.
Mike Dennis, Chair, Warrington Bridge Club
The incentive to purchase tickets, is that members buy a book of ten tickets, but only pay for 9, thereby getting a 'free' play every tenth time they play. Tickets are valid at all normal duplicate sessions within the club (there is one exception).
The take up has been about 95%, there are still some members who pay by cash for various reason, but generally it makes life much easier for the treasurer!
Payment for books of tickets is accepted by way of cash, cheque or the preferred method via Internet Banking, then emailing the treasurer with the information and tickets are then handed to them at the next session.
Phil Shorey, Treasurer, Rugby Bridge Club
Wendy Blyth, Bolton Bridge Club
Chris Garrod and Peter Francis, Titchfield Bridge Club
The Vouchers were printed quite cheaply as we used standard raffle ticket size booklets (printing 2 Vouchers per ticket). The printers agreed to move the perforation on their standard raffle ticket layout to provide two equally sized vouchers.
This has greatly reduced the amount of cash we are collecting at the tables and they are encouraging all members to join the scheme.
Sue Charlesworth, Chair, Sutton Coldfield Bridge Club