Requesting Payment from Members

If you allow your members to carry a balance on their subscription, instead of paying up front, you will want remind them to make payments on their outstanding balance. It’s easy to send payment requests through Member Assembler. The payment request tool will send out notifications to your members along with the balance you expect to be paid by a certain date. If you accept online payments, the member is given a link which they can use to pay. Payment requests expire automatically after 30 days.

This article covers the following topics:
Adding a New Payment Request
Selecting Members & Sending Your Request
Configuring Percentage Requests

Adding a New Payment Request

  1. Log in to your Control Panel and navigate to:

    Member Assembler > Accounting > Payment Request.

  2. Click on the "Add New Payment Request" link in the yellow bar. This will take you to the "Create Payment Request" page. See below:

    new-payment-request.jpg    Figure 1. Create Payment Request Page

  3. Answer the questions:

    a. What Type of Payment Request is this?

    Choose whether you would like your members to pay a set amount (Example: $100), a percentage of their overall balance (Example: 50% of all that they owe), or one of two advanced requests (see next paragraph). If you want them to pay all of their remaining balance simply use the percentage of overall balance option and type in 100%. If you are making the requests on a schedule, see the "Configuring Percentage Requests" section below for more information on how to make a manual payment schedule for your members.

    There are two new options here to request a payment based on a specific season. This will be useful if your members are signing up for a new season but still owe a balance on a previous season, which you want to close your books on. The season offered is based on whichever season you are currently administrating. To change it, go to Member Assembler > Configure > Seasons. You can choose either a percentage of their season invoice total or a percentage of their season invoice remaining balance. For a payoff of a season, choose the percent of remaining invoice balance and enter 100 for 100% requested.

    b. Initially Select Users with Balance Greater Than...

    Enter the least amount of the outstanding balance that your members can have in order for them to receive a payment request. For example: To send payment requests to anyone who has more than $100 owed on their account, type in 100. If you would like to send payment requests to everyone who has an outstanding balance, no matter what the amount is, type in 0.01 for one cent.

    c. User Must Have Type:

    Use this tool to send payment request to only certain types of members. The Member Types of your current Season will be listed in the drop down menu. Click on the Member Type to select it or hold down the Ctl button on your keyboard to select more than one. If you would like your payment request to go to all of your members, select "No Member Type Narrowing." Note: Season-specified payment request types do not use Member Type narrowing (it will disappear from your screen) but will automatically only choose people who were part of that season.

    d. Customize Payment Request Email:

    Create a custom payment request email which will be sent to your users. First, write a title for the email. For example: "Remaining Balance info for your CSA." Then compose what the email will say.

    Note: You will see some variables (for example: %%primary-member-name%%) already written into the body of your email. These variable represent specific information that will automatically populate in the email for each of your members. (For example, your member's name populated in place of: %primary-member-name%.) The following variables will work in this email:

    %%primary-member-name%% - The name of the primary user in the membership.
    %%payment-request-amount%% - The amount of the payment request.
    %%current-balance%% - The balance of the membership before any payment has been made.
    %%cc-payment-url%% - A unique link to your website for the member to pay online with Paypal or Member Assembler payments (Authorize.net). Use this variable only if you are using credit card processing.
    %%invoice-instructions%% - Invoice-only instructions for payment %%member-id%% - The unique number that identifies a particular member.

    Here is an example of what the content in a Payment Request email may look like:

    %%primary-member-name%%,
    We are requesting a payment of %%payment-request-amount%%.
    Your current balance is %%current-balance%%.
    Click the following link to pay online with your credit card:
    %%cc-payment-url%%
    Sincerely,
    (Your Farm Name Here)

    If you want to save the text you've created to be the default for future payment requests, click the checkbox below the text area marked "Make the above text the default for future payment requests?"

    All finished? Click the Save and Select Users button to take you to the next step.

    Selecting Members & Sending Your Request

Now you have reached the "Select Members and Send Payment Request" page. See below:

payrequest-choose.jpg    Figure 2. Select Members and Send Payment Request Page

Here is where you will get to see a preview of what your message is going to look like. Using the example content above, the resulting email could look something like this:

   Lauren Seiple,
   We are requesting a payment of $100.
   Your current balance is $600.
   Click the following link to pay online with your credit card:
   http:/samplelink.smallfarmcentral.com/members/pay/d9c0f30eed01c254aba
   Sincerely,
   Small Farm Central

If you see anything you'd like to change, click on the "edit this payment request" link in the yellow box at the top of the page. This will take you back to the previous screen to make adjustments.

Note: Online transaction fees (see The Charges & Discounts Cookbook) that were created will only be applied to the member's balance at the original checkout. Therefore if you are sending a payment request to customers who choose "invoice only" at checkout, they will not be charged an online transaction fee if they click the link to pay with PayPal. If it is more important to save the credit card transaction fees than to receive immediate payment, remove the link and give your invoice-only customers instructions on how they should submit their payment.

The final step is to select the members that should receive the payment request. This list will be populated from the Member Type(s) you selected in the User Must Have Type section from the previous screen. It will also be filtered to only include those members with more than the balance limit that you selected in the Initially Select Users with Balance Greater Than... section. To select members, simply click the checkbox next to the names you'd like to send the email to. To select all the names, simply click on the checkbox located at the top of the column in the grey header.

There are some columns here to help you out in selecting names, if you are doing season-based payment requests: Invoice Total and Paid % of Invoice. This shows you how much a member owes for just the one season. If their overall balance is $1000, they might have an invoice total from last season of $500 and an invoice total for this season of $500. There is also a preview of how much the member will be requested to pay. The example shown in Figure 2 is for a payment request of 50% of the outstanding balance of a specific season's invoice. Members who have paid nothing so far are asked for half of the invoice total. Members who have made some payment already are asked for less than half of the invoice total.

Click on the Send Payment Request button to finish and send your email. You will receive a confirmation email in your inbox that your Payment Request was sent to your members.

Configuring Percentage Requests

Many times the Payment Request Tool is used to create a manual payment schedule, so that your members can pay in equal installments throughout their CSA session. You can use the overall balance percentage type or invoice percentage type of Payment Request emails and the downpayment feature (Member Assembler > Configure> Checkout) to set up this schedule, simply follow these steps:

  1. Determine how many payments you would like to allow your members to make.
  2. Figure out the percentages that you will need to request for each payment. Since the overall balance percentage type of Payment Request Email always works off of the member's current balance and not the original amount owed, you cannot simply make 4 payment of 25%. But you can do that with the invoice percentage type of Payment Request. Here are the schedules for plans with 3 and 4 payments:

3 payments (with overall balance requests)
Downpayment/Request #1 (33%)
Payment Request #2 (50%)
Payment Request #3 (100%)

3 payments (with season invoice requests)
Downpayment/Request #1 (33%)
Payment Request #2 (33%)
Payment Request #3 (33%)

4 payments (with overall balance requests)
Downpayment/Request #1 (25%)
Payment Request #2 (33%)
Payment Request #3 (50%)
Payment Request #4 (100%)

4 payments (with season invoice requests)
Downpayment/Request #1 (25%)
Payment Request #2 (25%)
Payment Request #3 (25%)
Payment Request #4 (25%)

Though it may seem at first glance to be a much simpler approach to use the season invoice requests, just asking for a percentage of invoice total will miss any subtleties and differences in member accounts if for instance they've made extra payments or had their invoice adjusted for some reason after signing up. It is probably a good practice for that final payment request to be 100% of either the overall balance for the member or of the balance on the season's invoice.

Using the balance percentage method, if you want all of your payments to be fairly the same amount, the trick is to think about the balance in terms of how many more payments are left. In the beginning, there are 4 payments to be made, so the downpayment is the first request for payment and will be 25% or 1/4. Then there are 3 payments left to be made, so the balance should be split into 3 or 33%. Next, you will have 2 payments left, so half of it can be asked for or 50% and then finally, you will want the remainder, so in your last request you will ask for 100% of the balance.

Here is an example with a starting balance of $400:

Downpayment/Request #1 (25% of $400) = $100 ($300 remaining)
Payment Request #2 (33% of $300) = $99 ($201 remaining)
Payment Request #3 (50% $201) = $100.50 ($100.50 remaining)
Payment request #4 (100% of $100.50) = $100.50 ($0 remaining)

If you want your members to pay a downpayment at checkout, use the first percentage in your schedule. Then assign due dates to the additional payments, and make sure you set up your Payment Request emails and send them out in advance, to give your members enough time to pay by your due dates. It is a good idea to use a payment schedule that requires your members to pay the remainder of their balance sometime before their CSA session ends.

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