Your customers use credit cards to purchase almost everything, so most will expect that you accept them as well. While disaster mitigation and restoration isn’t the same as going out to dinner or getting a haircut, your customers will see it as just another expense. Accepting credit cards will likely lead to more customers and more business in the long term.
Think about your own personal shopping habits. Even if you choose to pay in cash, what store, restaurant, or gas station doesn’t accept credit cards? And that doesn’t even include the number of businesses that also accept electronic payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal.
Reasons Contractors Should Accept Credit Cards
As a disaster mitigation and restoration contractor, you provide a service to your customers. Accepting credit cards is just another service you can offer them.
Credit Cards are Convenient for Customers
Accepting credit cards make it extremely convenient for customers to pay you for your services. Most customers are just more comfortable paying by credit card. The average customer is unlikely to use checks and cash withdrawal limits make it difficult to get a large amount of cash all at once. Plus, a credit card ensures they can afford emergency restoration services, even if they don’t actually have the cash to cover the job right at that moment.
Accepting Credit Cards Inspires Confidence
As ridiculous as this may sound, accepting credit cards makes your business more credible in the eyes of your customers. Even if your customers ultimately choose to pay by cash or check, knowing they could pay by credit card instills confidence that you are a legitimate company. Choosing not to accept credit cards is likely to be a red flag for some people.
Credit Cards Protect Your Customer
Credit cards also offer your customer an added layer of protection. Their credit card company keeps a record of their transactions and has a clear process for disputing charges. Even most consumer protection groups, including the Federal Trade Commision, recommend customers pay contractors with a credit card for their own protection. While it’s unlikely they will need these services, these protections make more customers feel better about their decisions.
Benefits of Accepting Credit Cards
No matter what type of restoration or home services you offer, customers are more likely to choose your company if you accept credit cards. That alone should be a good enough reason, but there are two other great reasons to added credit cards as a payment option.
You Can Accept Payments Immediately
With the exception of an envelope full of bills, credit cards are the fast way to accept payment from your customers. And let’s face it, how many customers actually pay you in cash? It’s more likely they will give you a check that needs to be deposited. Some banks take three or even five days to clear checks, especially for large sums. By accepting credit cards, you get your money much faster. Plus, you are notified immediately if the card is declined, while it may take days for a check to bounce.
Credit Card Payments Simply Your Accounting
Managing cash and check payments involves paperwork. You need to hand write out receipts and make copies for your records. Even if you have a great process for tracking payments, you need to drive to the bank and deposit the money into your account. By accepting credit card transactions, you’ll always have a digital record of payments. You can then just log into your credit card account and transfer the fund directly to your account or export the numbers to your accounting and project management software.
Things to Consider When Selecting a Credit Card Processing Company
There are several things to consider before signing up with a credit card processing company. Make sure you review the fees and terms of service. It may be worthwhile to have your accountant or lawyer review them as well. Another great way to research different systems is to ask other contractors that you know. Their unbiased opinion is probably worth a dozen reviews on the internet. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance of convenience, efficiency, and cost.
How Much Does Credit Card Processing Cost
While accepting credit cards is convenient for customers, it does come at a price. Every company will charge a transaction fee, usually called an interchange fee. These fees are applied to every credit card charge. Typically they are either a flat percentage of the amount being charged, a fixed rate, or both.
Another cost to consider is credit card processing equipment. Whether you go with a product that works with your mobile phone or one that is wired in your office, you will need to pay for those devices. Some may be one time purchases, while other may be monthly rentals. Also, consider how many devices you need and find the right balance of efficiency and cost.
They may also charge a monthly statement fee for mailing you paper copies of your transaction history. Not all companies charge a statement fee and others may wave the fee if you go paperless. If you really want paper copies for your records, you can always print a copy from your account.
Other common charges are application fees, setup fees, gateway fees, and early termination fees. Make sure you compare all of the fees when evaluating which credit card processing company is right for you. Just because one company may have the lowest transaction fees, that doesn’t mean they won’t make it back with higher fees.
How Easy is it to Setup and Use the System
Another thing to consider is the setup and ease of use. Ask how long it will take for you to set up your account and get the necessary equipment before signing up with a processing company. If possible review their training materials and read reviews about how easy the equipment is to use as well.
Once you sign up with a company, make sure you train anyone and everyone that will be using the system. Accepting credit cards is about convenience and efficiency, so it’s important that your employees are comfortable with the process. This ensures they promote it, as well as builds confidence with customers that they are being charged properly.
What Credit Cards Are Accepted
Customers can get fanatical about their credit cards. While Visa and MasterCard are the defacto standard in credit cards, other major credit cards include American Express and Discover. It probably isn’t necessary to accept electronic benefit transfer (EBT) or prepaid cards, but choosing a processing company with the most options makes it easier for your customers.
While not exactly credit cards, a processing system that accepts near-field communication (NFC) technology may be something to consider as well. This type of system allows customers to pay with digital wallet apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay. These apps allow customers to pay wirelessly via their mobile phone or other smart devices. Again, it’s about balancing cost, convenience, and efficiency.
How Helpful is Customer Support
Another consideration is customer support. As with any other technology, the system may go down from time to time. Investigate what type of customer support is included with each company. If you’re pretty tech savvy, you may be fine watching how-to videos or chatting with a representative. For those less technically inclined, paying a little more for a 24-hour support line may be a better option.
Covering the Added Expense of Accepting Credit Cards
There is no way around it, accepting credit cards will come at a cost. In order to cover those costs, most contractors pass some or all of the fees along to their customers. One of the easiest ways to cover the cost of accepting credit cards is to factor it into your hourly rate or your service fee.
Another option is to charge a standard fee for using credit cards. While this may seem more honest, customers are more likely to have an issue with the cost. Think about it, the grocery store doesn’t charge an extra fee for paying with plastic. Whether you include credit card cost in your rates or charge a flat fee, make sure you are including the right amount to cover percentage-based charges.
Some contractors choose to just pay those fees out of pocket, hoping that the extra business from customers using credit cards covers the added expense. If you go this route, make sure to track your expenses and the number of credit card transactions you process to ensure you aren’t losing money.
As an incentive for customers to pay by cash or check, you may consider offering a discount. Whether it’s a flat rate or percentage of the bill, it’s an option for limiting your credit card processing fees. This gives the customer the option of which method is best for them.
Regardless of how you choose to cover your credit card processing fees, have your calculations figured out in advance. Be prepared to answer any questions about your billing. You should also make sure you comply with state and local laws. Some states have regulations on how you must disclose credit card fees or even what percentage you can charge.
Growing Business By Accepting Credit Cards
Credit cards are the most used payment method today. They are more convenient for your customers than paying by checks or with cash. By accepting credit cards, you can make it easier for customers to choose a contractor. And that will help grow your restoration business. Research the fees and choose a credit card processing company that best fits your needs. Just like your dehumidifiers and ozone machines, don’t forget to get the right equipment so you can process cards in the field too.
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