For most membership managers, this is anything but a happy time of year. Renewal season, means a lot’s of pressure. You’ve not only got to do all of your normal work, but to get those enrollment and recruitment numbers looking shiny and high for Q1 reports.

What does that mean for you? Well, there’s going to be a lot of back and forth between you and your membership base as you remind them to renew their memberships, and then remind them again, and then maybe once or twice or five times more for good measure.

Everyone procrastinates, and unfortunately you might end up at the receiving end of it here: even if you do rally your member base, it might come too late, leaving you with a massive stack of paperwork as all the members who dragged their heels come out of the woodwork with applications for renewal.

Maybe, just maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll find the time to analyze and identify where your churn risk is, which would theoretically allow you to focus on the members who need attention – but sometimes that’s a big maybe.

In other words, it’s time to refill your coffee, but it’s also an opportunity to take a look at your workflow and make sure you’re doing the most to make this time of year easy for yourself.

Crunch Time – or Save Time Instead

You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you, and it’s tempting to just put your nose to the grindstone and power forward. But it’s worth it to stop and examine the way you do things right now, and to consider the question of whether you’re making use of all the tools available to you.

Time you invest in finding solutions may seem like a luxury you can’t afford, but the time you’ll save will pay dividends when you multiply it by the hundreds of times you may be asked to complete a task. Just like the old wisdom that you have to spend money to make money, you have to spend time to save time.

We’ve got a few ideas for improving your workflow that any membership manager can stand to use to make their life a little easier this renewal season: tools and methods to automate what you can, saving time for the cases that really need your attention or otherwise need to be renewed manually.

Automated Recurring Billing

Automated recurring billing (ARB) is inarguably the most powerful tool available to a membership manager as far as reducing their workload during renewal season. If your membership management software doesn’t have an ARB feature, then you need new membership management software.

What can ARB offer to an organization that deals with regular dues payment?

· Minimize time spent on credit card processing

ARB does the heavy lifting for you in cases like these, automatically renewing memberships for any member who has authorized the option. Almost any software suite with ARB will also have a variety of tools for processing cash and cheque payments as well, allowing you to fold in all of your payment processing with ease.

· Minimize churn

By allowing your members to “set it and forget it” – that is, giving them the option to check a box saying “Yes, please automatically deduct my membership fee at renewal time”, then they’re less likely to churn just by virtue of the fact that they don’t have to think about it. If they really have a grievance and want to leave, the option is available – but if they don’t think about it, then you don’t have to worry about it.

ARB also prevents instances of churn that result purely from absentmindedness, because you can’t forget to submit an automatic payment!

Consider Your Renewal Reminder Strategy

Hopefully your organization has already decided on a set of policies and procedures for your organization to follow when it comes time to renew.

If you’re like most organizations, you’ll send out a reminder or two by email asking members to renew – which is a good step, but you don’t have to stop there, and you shouldn’t. Read on for a few techniques you should consider applying to your renewal reminder strategy:

· Segment your audience

You shouldn’t send an identical reminder email to everyone; splitting your audience up into segments and then tailoring the message each one receives will do a lot more for you than a single, generic message.

· Include a payment link

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised! The more steps you add to a process, the less likely it is that a person will carry them out – so cut down on the number of steps your members must follow, and bring the payment interface to them!

· Advertise ARB in your email – and link it

If saving your members effort is a key to success, then this is even more important than the last piece of advice, because including a link where members can sign up for ARB will save both you and them a lot of work. If you think your members might be annoyed at the number of reminders they’re getting, then the promise of stopping those notifications forever with ARB is an easy sell.

Put Engagement Analytics to Work

There’s a whole host of analytics tools packed in with every membership management software suite, which will let you take a look at your membership base as a whole and ask questions like:

· Who’s engaged?

· Who’s most likely to renew?

· Who’s a churn risk – and who’s not?

Knowing who is engaged and not a churn risk is valuable information: it means you can save time trying to court them, because they’re probably going to renew regardless of what you do.

All of your relationships are ones you should cultivate, but there are reasons to cultivate one over another – so when time is limited, and you need to know where to focus your efforts, analytics will tell you who needs attention and who doesn’t.

Spend Time Now, Save Time Later

You’ve probably heard the phrase “short term pain, long term gain”, and there’s no time of year when that applies more than renewal season. Every bit of effort you spend on refining and improving your processes will save effort later; the time spent automating a process now is the time you don’t have to spend doing that process later.

Refill your coffee, review your practices, and get automating – soon, you’ll be able to look forward to a less stressful renewal season, not only this year but for many years to come.