The customer experience is always top of mind for a business owner, and it should be! One poor experience can be a make or break situation for a potential customer, so ensuring they have a seamless experience is key to business success.
This experience may be directly associated with the convenience of your payment options. All business owners need to be able to accept digital payments, regardless of whether your business is a weekend stand at a farmer's market or a local retailer with hundreds of employees. If you’re unable to accept preferred methods of payment, you run the risk of losing the sale and even losing customers.
So how do you get started? Here’s what you need to know when looking for the right merchant services provider, and tips for making the best decision for your business.
What is merchant services?
Simply put, merchant services accounts enable the digital transfer of money from a customer’s bank account to a business. When a customer swipes their card at the checkout line, your merchant services provider sends the digital transaction information to the customer’s financial institution. If the transaction is approved, the funds head to your account. In many situations, your funds are available the next day.
When cash was the primary source of payment, this transaction happened in person and in real-time; there was no waiting for the transaction to process. In today’s digital age, business owners need the ability to accept credit and debit cards, and this comes with a bit of risk.
A lot of pieces need to be in place for businesses to successfully accept credit/debit cards and digital payments. From technology to hardware, payment processing requires a deep level of expertise and knowledge. This is why a merchant services provider is such a critical business partner; they ultimately help a business determine the right payment options to offer for their customers, and help navigate the costs business owners incur with various payment options, as well.
How to find the right merchant services partner
A merchant services partner can help you improve cash flow and increase revenue. But having the right partner can help you gauge growth opportunities and explore new ways to meet customer payment preferences.
Clearly, it’s critical you identify the best partner for your business.
So how do you know which merchant services provider is the right partner for you? Here are our tips:
1. Be cautious around providers pushing their system before taking the time to understand your business. The right merchant services partner will have an in-depth and transparent conversation with you to ensure they understand how your business is structured and your unique needs. Those conversations should cover the dos and don’ts of merchant services, local regulations, tips on navigating expenses, and ways to minimize cost per transaction.
2. Don’t rush into the quickest or easiest implementation. While Venmo or Square are easy to implement, they can potentially limit your business in other ways. This could be something like a financial liability for a business owner or limited access to customer support if something isn’t working right, both of which directly impact on your ability to accept payments.
For example, if you run a bar that operates outside traditional business hours, you can’t wait until the morning for support. You need access to someone in real-time to ensure any issues with your payment processing technology are addressed.
The takeaway: Instead of a quick solution, focus on building a trusted relationship with your financial partners.
3. Identify your short- and long-term goals. Whether you’re looking to quickly improve operational efficiency, or planning for payment scaling in the future, your merchant services partner should be your right-hand for planning and executing financial strategy.
Don’t rely on internet searches as the only means of research to support your decision. The right-fit merchant services partner will want to understand your business to help you succeed; they won’t just push their products or services on you.
Technology upgrades for payment options
Worth noting is that in many situations, your business may need to upgrade or purchase new technology or hardware to allow for new payment options. This could mean anything from an updated tap-to-pay checkout terminal to implementing your first digital system from scratch.
This may seem intimidating, but with equipment rent and lease options, you don’t need to purchase equipment outright. Instead, you can focus on getting the best long-term solution for your needs. Talk to your merchant services partner to determine which items fall in the “immediate” category to accommodate new payment options, and which ones you can plan to implement at a future date.
You deserve a seamless experience, just like your customers! A trusted relationship with your financial advisor will help you to set, and achieve, the right goals for your business. After all, the right fit merchant services partner will understand your unique business needs and challenges, and will work with you to find the right approach to help you give your customers the appropriate mix of payment options.
Rockland Trust partners with Elavon to deliver merchant processing solutions. By combining our banking expertise with Elavon's premier payment processing network, you can reap the benefits of a relationship-focused partnership to ensure you meet all of your banking and payment processing needs. Learn more.
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