Is MindBody Online Taking Advantage?

Where's the rest of your money?

An anonymous email came through our main account and was the following message forwarded on:

Dear Mindbody Customer,  

We are thinking of you and your families during this very difficult time and hope that everyone is staying healthy and managing through this surreal pandemic.  

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in payment processors across the industry to implement holds on merchant funds and/or stop payment transaction processing altogether. At Mindbody, we recognize how important cash flow is to your business. However, we must responsibly assess the potential loss that our merchants may face during this time. Due to COVID-19, the following measure is being implemented on accounts that have scheduled monthly autopays:   

  • 20% hold on all deposits until further notice

Please understand that this decision was not made lightly and is temporary. Businesses are facing financial challenges right now and we’re doing everything we can to help them maintain operations. We’re closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and as soon as things begin to normalize, this temporary measure will be ideally lifted. 

Exceptions to this change are reviewed on a case by case basis. To request a review of your account, please respond to the following questions:   

  • Are you aware that your account has scheduled autopays to be processed?   

  • How have you communicated recurring charges to your customers during this global pandemic?   

  • Have there been changes to your provided services that no longer align with your customer’s initial purchase? For example: A 1:1 personal training session has been changed to a virtual session. 

  • If “Yes”, has the customer agreed to the change of service offering?   

Upon receiving your email reply, your request will be reviewed by our Risk team. Due to a high volume of requests, please allow up to 3 business days for an email response so we can properly review. If you require further assistance, please contact: paymentsrisk@mindbodyonline.com.  

Cassandra
Team Lead, Payments Risk

We verified this email with two coaches that we know of who have accounts with MindBody Online.

There are 3 reasons why we put this out there:

  1. To get more feedback from the community and your reactions

  2. To provide an analysis of why this is happening that might help you understand where it is coming from

  3. To discuss how coaches, gym owners, studio owners, trainers, yoga teachers and the like can move forward knowing that they cannot rely on the support of anyone or any platform

First of all, if you want to reply privately, send an email to info at breakingmuscle.com. If you are happy to share your experiences transparently then comment on this article below. Give us your take and perspective on MindBody’s actions. How it affects the owners and users is all that matters to us.

As for MindBody’s motives, it is protecting itself for one of two reasons:

  • Chargebacks and refunds have started to come in and the company wants to get a handle on all accounts so that it is not overwhelmed and left holding the bag

  • The company anticipates chargebacks and refunds and is trying to protect itself going forward because, frankly, if they give you the money and it gets crawled back through them, they would have a hard time collecting it back from you

Either way, MindBondy is owned by private equity which means that it is engineered for financial success, and it would hard to see it act charitably or generously towards anyone but its shareholders because private equity doesn’t good PR. No judgement, just a fact. MindBody has to deal with the short-term repercussions of the steep decline in payments that the fitness industry is now facing.

As an independent fitness pro, in the circumstances that exist today, you need to start thinking about one-to-one relationships, direct relationships, and reduction of overhead. You need to be as ruthless as the big platforms and corporations are towards you.

YES, GO VIRTUAL, GO ONLINE.

Good luck. Your bricks and mortar gym had maybe 4-5 competitors but thousands of possible members because, geography. Your online gym is going to have billions of competitors (no exaggeration, do the math) and will eventually require you to become the equivalent of a webcam girl to attract a hundred potential customers.

Sidebar: the porn industry has always been technically ahead of the curve when it comes to online commerce and making money from video. That’s just something that everyone in tech knows but doesn’t like to admit. Instagram fitmodels are, frankly, getting to be no better than webcam girls (that is a gender-neutral observation because everyone is nearly naked). The process of attracting customers is almost identical: pose and preen in as sexual a manner as possible in a small video window in order to attract an audience that may convert into paying you directly for more of the same.

So, we’ll make a couple of suggestions.

  • Take your payments on Venmo, Paypal, Zelle, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay. It’s all there. Instantaneous. Idiot proof. No subscription fees. All your clients can do one of the above. In fact, Google Pay and Apple Pay are the simplest setups of all. And we haven’t even discussed all the variations internationally. Then, there’s Payoneer and Patreon. Get to studying how to take money on your phone.

  • Focus on your local client base - people in your time zone, your neighborhoods, your community, the ones who will end up at a brick and mortar establishment near you. That’s your competitive advantage. If you have a gym, lend out equipment. If you know other gym owners in your area, talk to each other. You’d be surprised how much better it is to unburden yourself among peers. It’s not about competition but about humanity and extraordinary times. Your competition is going to be the globo gym that ends up charging $9.95 a month to get people back through the door. It’s not the $100+ a month CrossFit box or the SoulCycle or whatever.

  • We don’t get the free at-home workouts for everyone on Facebook. Focus on your paying clients. Free is a marketing tool to get people to sample our expertise. Free is also worth … nothing. If you are going online because your 12 hour-a-day job at your gym is closed, spend time on production values, and content, and make people pay something, anything, for it. How do you think virtual coaching works? And if I wanted to keep paying your dues every month, I wouldn’t really feel great about doing that while you are giving it away on a crappy webcam show on Facebook.

If we are wrong, tell us.

If you have better ideas, share.

Stay healthy. Stay strong.