When it comes to Merchant Services (credit card processing), we know that it’s not the top of everyone’s bucket list to negotiate a new deal with providers. Processing is notoriously difficult to understand (get a handle on the basics here). In addition, the endless array of pricing, promotions and hardware options are enough to leave you completely lost. While rates are obviously top-of-mind for a practice looking to lower the bottom line, getting a general overview of the support and benefits you can expect is just as important. Remember, these companies are handling something as vital as accepting payments.

  1. Customer Service

Between point-of-sales terminals, the banks and secure storage of data, there are many moving parts to each transaction. Occasionally things go wrong – whether it’s a connection issue or a hardware problem. Seek out reviews, testimonials, and inquire about features of their customer service team (multilingual, 24/7, technical expertise). Do their offerings fit your needs? 

  1. Effective rate

Your “effective rate” is the average percentage per transaction that is charged to process a credit card. Come prepared with your own calculations for your total effective rate. This will give you a good idea of their competitiveness. Below is a simple equation that will give you a basic idea of your current processing fees. 

Effective Rate = Total Fees / Total Gross Sales Volume

But remember, the most affordable offering isn’t necessarily the best decision for your practice. Consider your rates alongside all the other benefits a processor provides. Because a well-rounded processor might be more expensive, don’t write them off!  They will likely ensure less headaches (and time saved) in the future! 

If you’re considering a limited-time promotion from the provider, calculate the increase in costs after the promotion finishes – this, alongside issues with customer service – is one of the biggest reasons companies switch. 

  1. Data Security

Data protection is a constant challenge for financial institutions. Failure to keep data secure could cause significant issues for your business. Security is crucial in maintaining trust with your pet parents. So, we advise taking an active interest in how your customers’ credit card data is stored and kept secure.  

The technical stuff: To process and store transaction data, your processor will utilize front and back end servers – hopefully provided by an excellent service provider like Fiserv (also known as First Data) who are leaders in online security and data encryption. Red flags include “we provide our own front end” and “we don’t share that information”. Review historical information for any data breaches and how regularly they update their security technology. 

  1. Length of contract term and cancellation policies

Sometimes, the cost of credit card processing can be make or break for small businesses. It’s not uncommon to see cost increases as promotions expire, or general fee increases during the lifetime of an agreement. This practice is common in credit card processing, and puts small community businesses at particular risk. During our 17 years of championing and supporting small businesses, we’ve seen every tactic under the sun to pressure business owners into staying locked-in to an agreement. For instance, we’ve seen closing fees to threatening clients with repaying “damages” for future lost business from their arrangements. Our advice is to ask about the contract term and their cancellation policies, and make sure all assurances should be in writing. 

  1. How can I trust you with my credit card processing? 

When you paint a complete picture of the way your business accepts payments, you’ll quickly realize how individual your needs are. For instance, the services you provide, the type of credit cards, and the sizes of transactions can influence your relationship with a Merchant Services provider. A good credit card processing company will take the time to analyze the makeup of your processing. They should provide you with a transparent breakdown of the rates they offer, and provide you with the equipment you need to accept payments in a way that suits you. 

Gravity Payments proudly offers the industry’s leading consultative approach to credit card processing. We achieve this by listening to your needs and providing a solution that works just for you. 

The takeaway: Whether you’re taking curbside or exam room payments, you have an online pharmacy, or you’re out on the road and want to ensure you get paid – your needs are specific to you. Make sure you’re being heard, and actually being helped. 

Find out what it means to get the white glove treatment at your practice: Give us a call or schedule a no-obligation consultation with our veterinary experts today.

Categories: Payments, Small Business Advice, Tips & Tricks