Sure, it sounds like a cliché (and obvious) to say that your best choice for credit card processing and merchant services has to meet your needs, but you would be surprised at the number of people who contact our company based soley on card processing fees. In the reality, swipe fees are only a portion of the entire equation, and people who make it a crusade to get the lowest price on card acceptance generally end up paying more for the services they most frequently use. Meanwhile, a smarter setup will create conditions for increased customer satisfaction and growth while simultaneously keeping processing costs low.
Anyone looking to get an apples-to-apples comparison of merchant account providers needs to take a step back and take a second look at their current credit card processing setup. By examining a few statements, you may discover that your customers present a lot of rewards cards versus debit cards. You may also note that cards are keyed instead of being swiped (this happens if you have glitchy terminals) or that you take a lot of checks. You also will need to be sure that the customer service you are getting today is going to be exceeded by your future provider. While most merchants may complain about the cost of processing, the real pain point in credit card services comes when you have an issue and there is nobody to answer your call.
By doing a little calculation, you can determine the effective rate on processing by adding up all your rates and fees versus the total dollar amount processed (less refunds and voids.) Many people who shopped for the best rates have learned to their dismay that they are only seeing preferred fees on a slim number of cards presented at checkout, and the overhead associated with terminals and accounts negates any savings.
A smart approach to getting a new merchant account is to understand your payment environment before a salesperson comes in the door. To get you a competitive rate, salespeople generally need to see a few months’ worth of statements, so they can understand how people pay for goods and services. Often, they can point out opportunities for savings such as the use of a PIN pad for debit transactions, or a different rate structure based around your most common transaction types. In order to show a competitive setup, you should be looking for a quote that takes into account all of the costs associate with processing, including PCI fees and IRS fees that may be passed on from banks to processors. Even when equipment leasing and other services are included, you should be seeing a level of savings that makes it worth your while to change processors.
Your salesperson should also be able to give you insight into what other people in your field are doing. At CPN, we have salespeople who specialize in multiple business verticals, and therefore they have experience in setting up accounts for such diverse fields as veterinarians, dentists, funeral homes, and auto repair services. The type of payments accepted at a doctor’s office may vary greatly from those accepted at a funeral home or veterinarian, and so an experienced account executive should be able to recommend a setup that is commonly used in your industry. With this level of knowledge, you have a chance to gain some competitive intelligence while ensuring that you aren’t losing customers who may have a preferred payment method that you don’t currently offer. In the final analysis, a great merchant account should not only save you money, but make it possible to make more dollars by better servicing your customer base.