How to select a credit card machine for your business: From confusion to clarity
Joe is confused, clearly. Last year he opened a barber shop, catering not only to haircut clients, but also to those who want specialized beard trimming. Business is booming. He has hired four other barbers, and now all of his chairs are filled and his appointments are scheduled for a week in advance. However, he currently has no easy way to fill last minute cancellations, other than having his receptionist make frantic phone calls from a hand-written list.
In addition, Joe has begun to sell beard trimmers and accessories, plus hair and facial care products for men. He’s thinking of extending his private line of men’s fragrance-free face lotions online, too, but has yet to take that step.
Joe’s ambitions have gotten the best of him. Maybe, he thinks, he expanded too quickly. He’s overwhelmed with accepting credit card payments, business operations, employee management, and building customer relationships.
Joe is operating his business with a single credit card machine, a card reader/swiper that accepts credit and debit cards, but doesn’t do much else. He’s able to accept cash with a cash register, but has a difficult time tracking payments, not to mention tips.
Joe knows there are other payment acceptance options out there, but doesn’t know when he’ll have the time to do the research required to find out what he needs for his specific business. Joe is questioning all of the decisions and choices he’s made so far. And maybe it’s about time.
Five questions to ask yourself about your business.
Joe may be in a state of confusion, but if he takes some time to ask himself a few questions, he will gain some helpful insight. Here are some things to ask:
1) Where are you right now?
What do you currently need to operate your business as it is? You may be growing too fast, or too slow. You may have expanded beyond your financial means or available time. You may have too much overhead. Or, your business may be empty and need traffic and sales to survive. Where are you in this moment? Answering this question will help you get to the next one.
2) Where do you want to go?
Get a game plan going. A business plan is vital to becoming successful. If you have not yet created a thoughtful plan––maybe you jumped into a business with a great idea but not enough structure and forethought––it’s possible you could create chaos just when you need clear direction and a smooth, stable road. A plan keeps you ahead of the curve, and aware of the curves coming your way as you speed forward.
3) What type of payment terminal or machine is best for your business?
Do you need to simply accept credit cards? Do you need to accept cash, as well? What about tips? Do you need a payment gateway to authorize online payments? Do you have a mobile business that requires on-the-go mobile payments? Do you want to accept payments at one station or many? Examine your business needs now and what they might look like in the future.
4) Do you need a payments system?
You may need more than a credit card machine. You may need an integrated payments system. Today’s consumers want payment options, and today’s businesses are expanding in multi-directions.
5) Is omnicommerce right for you?
Omnicommerce (or selling across all sales channels) creates a consistent customer experience from in-store to online to mobile device, for a seamless shopping experience. If you have numerous customer touchpoints, omnicommerce may be right for your business.
Five questions to ask a payments expert.
Next, Joe should consult with a payments expert to answer questions like the following.
1) How does this credit card machine work?
Is it EMV-enabled and NFC-capable? Meaning, does it take chip cards and accept digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Android Pay? Does it have a cash drawer that allows me to take cash payments, or is it solely a credit card reader?
2) Can this machine help me operate my business?
Is it a credit card reader, or is it a system integrated with apps to help run the front desk and the back office? Integrated systems can help with business operations, including inventory management, accounting, ordering, scheduling and more.
3) Can this POS help me grow my business?
What if I want to expand quickly? What if I want to apply what I’ve learned, scale up, and open another location? A payments system could help. In fact, a payment system can be integrated to track inventory and sales between any number of locations. It can also give valuable customer insights with analytics software, enabling direct marketing to the most profitable customers.
4) What are the processing fees?
Are they transparent, or are there hidden fees or confusing costs? Are there termination fees? If so, what am I going to be locked into?
5) Can a payment system help me create an exceptional customer experience?
That is, after all, what will a business prosper. The more you cater to the needs and desires of your customer, creating a unique experience for them, the more loyal they’ll become.
After self-evaluation, Joe consulted with a payments expert to help sort out all the options before expanding his already stretched-too-thin barbershop business. Because customer service was essential, Joe decided to implement an omnicommerce experience for his clients.
First, he decided to implement a new, integrated POS system, customized with apps that help him run the business. Not only does his payment system allow him to accept credit cards and debit cards, but also cash, and mobile payments like Apple Pay.
Second, Joe’s payments expert guided him through the many possibilities of the system, including an appointment schedule app to help track and fill appointments quickly, an integrated ecommerce site to track inventory for both in-store and online sales, and an analytics tool to help better understand and directly market to the most loyal customers.
Now, Joe can expand his business safely and securely. For one, with his new system, he knows payment transactions are more secure than ever, but he also knows his business is more secure. He can expand his business more safely because now he has the time to take a breath and the clarity to make the right choices.
Best of all, Joe has time to be a barber again and connect with his customers––that personal touch is what he’s best at––rather than spend most of his time sorting out things in the back office. He is, after all, the face of his business.