Not so small merchant services for small business
The foremost authority on small business, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), defines a small business as a firm that employs fewer than 500 employees. Taking that number into consideration, small businesses make up 99.7 percent of all businesses in the United States.
It’s no small matter. In fact, we’re talking about 28.8 million small businesses that employ 56.8 million people and account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales.
Even very small businesses, sometimes called “microbusinesses,” with one to four employees, make up 53.1 percent of all U.S. businesses––still a majority.
Furthermore, the recession that began nearly a decade ago caused many to take their careers into their own hands, literally. Today, the rate of start-ups keep going up as entrepreneurs continue to open businesses. The best news is, almost half of these new businesses are still in operation––and thriving––into their fifth year.
Some of these small businesses are thriving because they took great consideration when they selected merchant services for small business, which can include merchant accounts, credit card processing, and equipment such as credit card readers, terminals, and fully integrated payment systems.
And each business could need a completely different type of merchant account service.
The owners of an established business might be operating a small family shop, might have multiple locations, might run a combination of card-present and card-not-present eCommerce transactions, or have one large manufacturing facility. They might sell locally, across the U.S., or globally. They could be anything from restaurateurs to vintage clothing curators to high-tech parts makers.
Besides their many varieties, small businesses do have commonalities. One of them is that these owners and operators want to collaborate with smart people who can take some of the work off their plates. Consider a chef. He can’t be in the kitchen whipping up a béchamel, in the dining room greeting guests, tallying up sales, and worrying about whether he’s made the right choice in payments processors. His specialty is cuisine, not credit.
One small business owner’s perspective
Chris Hamilton and his wife own WJ Doyle Wine & Spirits in Durango, Colorado. They and their staff pride themselves on being highly educated about wines and cater to their customers with exceptional service because of it. But it takes a lot of time to become so knowledgeable about a subject as finessed as wine, and the team has to count on others who have in depth knowledge in other areas to be successful––particularly technology. It’s why they chose Vantiv as their payments processor.
“My business is not tech,” says Chris. “I don’t have the brainpower. I don’t have the time to educate myself in that. I have to rely on people I trust. One of the main reasons we’re with Vantiv is because the customer service is excellent. You call them up, you get a real person. The person you’re talking to is invariably pleasant. You can get in to the tech support guys, and you’re talking to people who helped code some of the software it seems, because they know it. If there’s a problem it’s made right, and it’s made right quickly.”
Merchant account services can take a small business to the next level.
That is, if it’s the right merchant service. Let’s assume you’ve already established yourself in the business world. If so, you’d likely want someone who can partner with you and give you the kind of advice that can propel you forward.
Sometimes it takes a combination of solutions tailored to your particular business, so consider a merchant account service provider that’s large enough to offer you options when it comes to accepting credit cards.
Ask yourself some questions, and you’ll be better prepared when interviewing potential merchant service companies.
How fast do you want to grow?
Do you want to sell online and in-store?
How comfortable are you with adopting new technology?
How much do you want to know about your customer?
Are you willing to pay higher processing fees for better service?
Do you want a payment processor that negotiates processing fees?
How secure is your current credit card processing system?
Do you need to upgrade your credit card reader or terminal?
Are you interested in a fully integrated payments system?
Selecting the right merchant service provider for your business is no small thing. It can have a big impact on your day-to-day and your future operations. Look for the same things in a merchant services partner that you would provide for your own customers: superior products, deep knowledge of the industry, a high degree of professionalism, and exceptional customer service.