Let’s face it. If your business can’t process credit cards in this day and age, then you’re out of business already. The day of the check book is gone. After facing yearly decline since the 90’s, some countries are even phasing checks out completely by 2018! This makes credit card processing even more critical for the success of your business. Whether you’re hocking your wares at the local swap meet, massaging your clients in the comfort of their own home, or operating a bakery with all of granny’s secret recipes, there is the best merchant service for you.
That Which You Resist, Persists
Modern history has thousands of examples of people and industries that resisted change only to have come out way ahead. In the 1980’s, Jack Valenti, long-time President of the Motion Picture Association of America, swore the VCR would be the demise of the movie industry. Look what happened there. In more recent years, New York City cabbies were in a complete uproar over Mayor Bloomberg’s requirement that they take credit cards. They resisted so much in fact, they went on strike over it. Two years later, according to the New York Times, cab revenues are way up because it’s so convenient for more people to take a cab. Additionally, the average tip for drivers is up thanks to the handy tip calculator printed right on the receipt.
There are always people that will resist change, or even turn and run in fear of technological advances. Even if this reaction is your first inclination, for the sake of your business, don’t do it. Face your fear and discomfort by researching what you may not understand. Explore the trends, and tap in to them.
Why Wouldn’t A Business Take Credit Cards?
The only reasons a business would not take credit cards are due to personal preference of the owner of the company. Some owners don’t trust the technology and just prefer to go old school. This is very short term thinking and puts their business in danger of collapse. Some just don’t want a paper trail of their sales history-usually to avoid taxes, etc. The two most common reasons though, are intimidation and a lack of desire to pay credit card processing fees. The intimidation factor can be overcome by doing a little bit of research via the internet, or speaking to a few merchant service companies that can educate you on the ins and outs. Paying credit card processing fees are now considered just the typical cost of doing business. Do what’s right for your business and adjust to them.
Everyone Uses Credit Cards
Yes, everyone uses credit or debit cards, even the ones that say they don’t. It is estimated that only 7 % of all transactions are done using cash. This is why, as a small business, you have got to start taking credit and debit cards. Your customers want the convenience! There is vast array of merchant service providers that can make this a simple and affordable experience for businesses of all sizes.
Three Ways to Get the Ball Rolling
If you’re convinced your business must start taking credit cards, there are essentially three main avenues to take. Finding the right merchant service will depend on your personal preferences and the structure of your business. There are literally thousands of what some consider to be the best merchant service providers that will range in service, equipment, rates, and convenience. Keep in mind that no matter which way you choose to go, you’ll have to set up a merchant account.
1. Traditional merchant service companies often have sales reps that can come to your home or business to discuss all of your options. If they can’t send someone, they’ll likely have a highly trained phone rep that can easily talk you through the options and even give you an online demo of how their equipment works. These companies usually feature an actual terminal where you can swipe the customer’s credit cards. The terminals can either be placed in your storefront, or if you have a more mobile business, you can get a wireless terminal from most providers. A major benefit of a company like this is the availability of a representative to help resolve any potential issues that arise.
2. The biggest trend right now is smart phone mobile processors. These companies send you a device that actually plugs right into your smart phone and acts as a “swiper”. Right on your hand held phone or tablet, you can type in the details of the transaction, process the credit card, and have the customer sign using their finger. These can be ideal for mobile businesses or unincorporated individuals.
3. Most banks offer a merchant service option as well. This business model will look a lot like the traditional best merchant service companies, but will be branded and held to the same customer service standards as a major bank.
What to Know About Starting A Merchant Account
Sometimes the initial paperwork for these merchant accounts are part of the intimidation factor. Just know that these companies are always fearful of fraud, so they may make you jump through a few hoops in the beginning, but once you get through it, it’s pretty smooth sailing. Consider this information before you fill out an application:
• Decide which of the above three models work best for your personality and business model.
• You’ll need to provide financial information about yourself and your company, so have bank account numbers, two previous year’s tax returns, and tax ID numbers handy.
• Do some research and find out processing fees, payment gateway fees, monthly fees, application fees, and anything else they plan to charge you. While all of these fees are pretty common place, you still want to know exactly what you’re committing yourself to. Speaking of commitment, what are their contract terms? Month to month, or is there a binding year to year agreement? You also want to know if you will have to purchase the equipment or will you lease it?
Increase Customer Satisfaction, Increase Revenue
Most people find it very frustrating and inconvenient to encounter a merchant that isn’t equipped to take credit cards. Even the motor vehicle departments in most states have started accepting them, and they aren’t famous for their customer service skills. In the modern age, your potential customers aren’t going the extra mile to pay you for anything. If you force a trip to the bank or the ATM because you don’t accept credit cards, you’ve likely lost a sale and lost a customer…for life.