Is my hypocrisy showing when it comes to taking payments?

by Reid on October 17, 2017

When can payment plans be a good idea AND a BAD IDEA, Reid?

Here’s a quick bit of geekery on best practices and when/how I make exceptions to this advice… Yep. Busted. Sometimes, I don’t always follow the best advice. 

NOTE: If you’ve been wanting to attend Sex Geek Summer Camp (or join us again?), the special 9-pay payment plan is going away soon… Camp 2018 Dates have been announced! Our first-ever WEST COAST CAMP! 

Yes, SGSC18 will be on the West Coast, right outside Portland, Oregon, July 14-18! Squeeee! The 9-pay payment plan is intended to help more sex educators attend Camp. If lower, automatic, monthly payments would help YOU join us, please check it out ASAP and get more info HERE:

I’d love to see you there! And tickets are going fast, so don’t delay! Especially with the 9 payment plan going away soon.

Best Practices & How to Design Payment Plans for YOUR Business

In a typical, “Do what I say, not what I do” fashion, some of the best business practices and advice out there on payment plans goes against having a 9-pay payment plan. Rather than set a “bad example,” I wanted to give you some tips to take care yourself while making it easier for your customers to enroll in your courses, and show you why and where I make my exceptions to proven advice.

Too many choices = People don’t register

There’s such a thing as choice overwhelm and giving someone MORE options can keep them from taking action. So, when creating registration and buying options, less choices can help increase attendance. 

However, the big question becomes, How do you make things accessible and inclusive financially?

Payment plans can help some folks by making things more financially accessible by spreading the registration costs out accross several months. Combine this with the ease and proliferation of automatic payment settings on many online services, shopping carts, and merchant accounts helps remove the “pain in the assery” of having to keep track of who needs to pay what each month and having to chase folks down. You can now click a few boxes and “set it and forget it.” 

[Truth be told, you never truly “forget it.” Is more like “set it and monitor it as you let technology do most of the work remembering.”]

In my live events and online programs, I strive to hit that sweet spot of making things financially accessible with the ease of managing registation choices to not overwhelm the purchaser. (Check out to see how I did? Let me know?)

Often, I offer things that err on the accessibility side as an act of service to those starting out. You get to make your own choices in how you design your offerings. However, here are some good rules of thumb when designing payment plans:

1) Make sure that the last payment is due before the event.
Getting money from people after an event or program has ended can be very challenging. I still have one person who owes me money from Camp 2014 when I made an exception and let the person pay after Camp! That means I’ve been chasing them down for several years! (Which has also changed my opinion of this person, and why risk thinking poorly of people or wasting bandwidth playing bill collector?) Best advice: Make sure everyone’s paid up before the event happens. 

2) Payment plans should always cost a little more than a single payment.
That folks are getting to spread the cost over a number of months should come with a cost. It doesn’t have to be exorbantly more, but it should be something. Why? Because it takes more effort on your end to keep track of and follow up on things like when their credit cards expire or a recurring charge don’t go through for whatever reason.

Contacting people who’s payments bounce is time consuming, especially if you’re running popular event and have several people’s payments get declined, or you’re on vacation and have to answer an email because someone needs to change their debit card number. So, the more payments a payment plan has, the more it should cost in total. Please follow this rule. Trust me. You can set your increases to be much smaller than what most businesses do if you want, but do it. Since Camp’s purpose is to help sex educators who are still growing their business es, and that means they may not have a ton of money to invest in themselves yet, it makes sense for me to keep the increased costs low. So that’s what I do. 

3) Don’t make a ton of payment plan options…. Keep it to 2, maybe 3, tops!
Best advice: Keep it to 2 options. Definitely have a one pay, because you’d be surprised how many people want to pay for everything in one shot. Plus, the payment plan costs a little more, right? And then offer a 3 or 5 pay. If you have a GREAT REASON, and only then, than sometimes a one pay, a 3 pay, and a longer term payment plan option can be a win-win for everyone. But offering more than 3 options leaves people confused and uncertain, and uncertain people don’t tend to take action. Keep things simple!

4) Look at the payment for the longest term payment plan and double check that your demographic can pay that.
Different groups of people will invest different amounts in training, and some demographics truly don’t have a lot of expendable income to invest in themselves. If the cost of your program or retreat is more than they can generally swing, you may want to redesign your course so you can offer at least a beginnners’ version at a lower price. Have a 3 day seminar that costs $997, but folks find it hard to afford it?
Consider creating a lowwer cost webinar or doing a 2-hour workshop that you can charge less for so that you can begin to transform people’s lives, and then maybe create a 201 program that offers more training and costs a little more, and have all that build up to your 3 day seminar… Camp, for example, is designed to be less than $100 a day (plus I feed everyone!) to keep it affordable, help train folks to be better at business so t hey can make more money… And then I invite folks to take programs like Sex Geek Conservatory or Sex Geek Design Studio later when they have the money and can afford to do so.

5) Have a clear refund policy.
My standard refund policy is 30 days, which is actually something you may have to offer by law in the United States (I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but do your own research on the laws where you live).

For some of my live events, I double up and, on top of the 30 days, offer a satisfaction guarantee that applies for those who attend the entire live event. Again, you want to design your refunds and gurantees not only to meet legal requirements, but to help make potential customers feel safe with investing in you (and themselves). You also want your policies and gurantees to be clear and easy to understand.

Why? Think of these like relationship boundaries and agreements but for your products and servives. Having them be simple, powerful and clear will make it easier for you to educate your customers on wh at to expect and enforce your business boudaries (aka “getting your business needs met!”). This will save you time and effort that will more than make up for the time you spend designing and writting these out! 

There are lots of people out there with other best practices and advice on payment plans (end the price in a 7, don’t charge any cents always round numbers for higher priced events, offer a bonus for one pays to entice and reward and encourage ease). Have fun geeking out on this stuff if it’s your jam. But this advice right here is pretty powerful, foundational stuff. May it serve you well!

Before I sign off… What do YOU think? What payments are you offering?

I’d love to know what you think, and if you have any questions about Camp or Payment plans. I invite you to Hit Reply and let me know! I often can’t answer every email, but I read all the comments and questions and try to answer them in newsletters, or via Facebook LIVE, or on Youtube. (Sign up here to be notified when I release new Youtube videos!)

Hoping to see you at Sex Geek Summer Camp 2018 on the West Coast!

Yours in business nerdery,

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: