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Baytownlawncare
01-20-2011, 03:38 PM
Ok, so I got a square reader for my new android phone this week and got it all set up for my business. I have looked around on here but really did not see what I wanted as far as an answer. Does anyone use strictly credit cards for payments or almost all credit cards. I do have some elderly customers that always pay cash or checks but want to lean toward cc's just due to not having to cash all those checks. I would like to run authorization on each cut with a card number on file but I am not sure if I can get customers to keep a card number on file with me due fear I may just charge whatever I want, even though I am an honest guy. I was thinking of a marginal discount for customers that keep a number on file just to ease my billing and reduce headaches. I was also thinking of requiring habitual slow pay customers to either have a cc number on file with me or I will not cut. I figure it will get them to pay or they will just find another service and end my headache with them. Comments, suggestions, bad idea, good idea?

bohiaa
01-20-2011, 04:15 PM
For me. NO. We bill out at the end of the month. never after each cut.

and we do NOT accept credit cards.

I would like to know how this works for you, and the cost.

I'm still running a cell phone from 5 yrs ago. I just cant see spending that much money

Baytownlawncare
01-20-2011, 04:29 PM
I have had horrid issues with a few bad apples last year and want something to put an end to it this year. Anyway I have always billed per cut and most folks don't have an issue with it. I would rather get my money sooner than wait until the end of the month. As for cost for square it is real reasonable. First of all my wife got the phones for free with a renewed 2 year contract. The account and reader for square are free. They don't charge any monthly fees just a fee per transaction. It is 2.75% + 15 cents for a card present situation or 3.5% + 15 cents for no card present, which will be my situation. This is the only fees you ever pay. These guys are going to put the dedicated card reader device companies out of business. I think the fees are competitive with paypal also. They make nightly deposits in you bank account once it is verified.

bohiaa
01-20-2011, 04:36 PM
Ahhh Sounds GREAT, I'm sure the fees are tax deductable,

WE jsut never done business this way. Always monthly.

I know it sounds lame, But I Jsut hate doing the money part. it takes me about 2 days to get the invoices out and then when the checks come in it's another 2 days to get and keep it all stright.

and then there's the stragglers,,,,,,,, WHY, WHY WHY.....

I like only going to the bank once a month.

Mountain Peak
01-20-2011, 04:51 PM
A few years ago I tried accepting credit cards to hopefully stop some of the slow pays. What I found out is only my good customers, the ones that usually wrote the check the day they received the bill, went over to the credit cards.

I truthfully go back and forth on it. I would love to have some that pay, credit card only, and I bill after each cut for cash flow. I would love to have everyone on credit cards but I just don't see it happening.

I looked into the reader that goes on my iPhone but the fees were too much and why have that if you're going to run cards without the card present??? Why not just go home and run all the yards for the day through quickbooks online for a better interest rate? The only reason I could come up with to have the card reader is if I'm selling vegetables at the farmers market or something like that. Even if a guy walks across the street while I'm aerating I could have him sign a CC acceptance form and run it when I get home.

If I'm going to do credit cards, and I am this year for select customers, I'm not going to pay for the reader, and I'm surely not going to pay the rates that you have (they are really high, make some phone calls, do a few searches online).
Hope this helps.

bohiaa
01-20-2011, 05:10 PM
A few years ago I tried accepting credit cards to hopefully stop some of the slow pays. What I found out is only my good customers, the ones that usually wrote the check the day they received the bill, went over to the credit cards.

I truthfully go back and forth on it. I would love to have some that pay, credit card only, and I bill after each cut for cash flow. I would love to have everyone on credit cards but I just don't see it happening.

I looked into the reader that goes on my iPhone but the fees were too much and why have that if you're going to run cards without the card present??? Why not just go home and run all the yards for the day through quickbooks online for a better interest rate? The only reason I could come up with to have the card reader is if I'm selling vegetables at the farmers market or something like that. Even if a guy walks across the street while I'm aerating I could have him sign a CC acceptance form and run it when I get home.

If I'm going to do credit cards, and I am this year for select customers, I'm not going to pay for the reader, and I'm surely not going to pay the rates that you have (they are really high, make some phone calls, do a few searches online).
Hope this helps.

yea, I could'nt emigane service work with credit cards going to well.
seems more of a PITA, I have herd of guys having Customers paying through there web site. paypal and such. that seems like more issues too.

If a customer doesn't have the funds does the credit card comapny come back to you ??

Baytownlawncare
01-20-2011, 05:26 PM
Square works supposedly works with iphone, ipod touch, and the ipad. Of course you have to have internet access with the ipod or ipad or internet with you phone. The reader is totally free, you just have to request it once you setup the account.

GreenI.A.
01-20-2011, 05:49 PM
i'm trying something new this year. I already do a discount for prepayment, but for those customers who wont do that i will then offer a smaller discount for auto billing. I'll keep there card on file and bill out monthly

SNAPPER MAN
01-20-2011, 06:36 PM
I just started accepting credit cards. I have a portable terminal in my truck and i will be using it mainly for tree, landscape, and sprinkler work because people don't always have over $1000 to spend on landscaping. I think it will help me be able to land more big dollar jobs.
Posted via Mobile Device

BrunoT
01-20-2011, 06:36 PM
I have had horrid issues with a few bad apples last year and want something to put an end to it this year. Anyway I have always billed per cut and most folks don't have an issue with it. I would rather get my money sooner than wait until the end of the month. As for cost for square it is real reasonable. First of all my wife got the phones for free with a renewed 2 year contract. The account and reader for square are free. They don't charge any monthly fees just a fee per transaction. It is 2.75% + 15 cents for a card present situation or 3.5% + 15 cents for no card present, which will be my situation. This is the only fees you ever pay. These guys are going to put the dedicated card reader device companies out of business. I think the fees are competitive with paypal also. They make nightly deposits in you bank account once it is verified.

I know it can be irritating when you get burned, but I don't see how spending a couple grand a year in bank processing fees is going to improve the bottom line. My worst years of bad debts it was never much more than a few hundred bucks that I lost.

At least make the card thing optional. I personally would not give my garbage man my credit card. I figure some people feel the same about us. A consumer's ability to dispute charges aside, it's a PITA if someone goes wild with your card. And garbage companies are actually much more stable than lawn operations.

You may still have problems, because with credit cards comes customers disputing charges. They can claim you didn't mow the lawn. How does one prove he did to the credit card issuer? It really doesn't solve everything. If someone's goal is to beat you out of some money, they can still find a way to do it. If they're just lazy, maybe it helps. But is it worth the price?

You might consider billing them once a month for that month automatically, to cut your data input stuff by 75%.

By the way, I use monthly statements as an easy way to communicate with the customer. I bill for each month on the 1st of that month. So my bill shows the number of projected visits for the month so they can raise any objections BEFORE I do the work. (they don't, because I've already laid it out for them at bid time). Then it shows any additional work I have done on-site the previous month that was authorized and what it costs. I can also include notes on the lawn condition or suggestions. And finally it is a way of pointing out to them little "freebies" that get done from time to time. (e.g. "edged ivy along walkways in back of property...10 min...no charge, thank you for your business!")

If all that they see is a credit card statement entry every month, they might get the impression you only love them for their money!

BrunoT
01-20-2011, 06:38 PM
i'm trying something new this year. I already do a discount for prepayment, but for those customers who wont do that i will then offer a smaller discount for auto billing. I'll keep there card on file and bill out monthly

Doesn't that really add up? In this case that would be 3.75% plus 15 cents per transaction, then a discount on the service on top of that? Say it's 2%. You're up over 5%. I'd probably rather charge them $2/pop less in the first place to help me get the account.

With prepayment it's a little different, you don't pay any bank fees, plus you get the use of the money earlier, plus you are 100% sure that account is with you for the duration of the season. I don't have cash flow issues, so I don't do it, but I can see the advantages.

bohiaa
01-20-2011, 07:27 PM
I just started accepting credit cards. I have a portable terminal in my truck and i will be using it mainly for tree, landscape, and sprinkler work because people don't always have over $1000 to spend on landscaping. I think it will help me be able to land more big dollar jobs.
Posted via Mobile Device

This is where it gets werid " for me anyway " in my area Most of our monthly statements are 1000.00 or greater. and I really couldn't see anyone putting that on a credit card. OF corse We only cater to a select few and not the masses. " Our Company's services are NOT for everyone " and we dont take the 1/4 acer lots in town

But you stated your seeking to land the big dollar jobs, while you say everyone doesn't have over 1000.00 to spend on landscaping.
I'm confussed.

SNAPPER MAN
01-20-2011, 07:52 PM
This is where it gets werid " for me anyway " in my area Most of our monthly statements are 1000.00 or greater. and I really couldn't see anyone putting that on a credit card. OF corse We only cater to a select few and not the masses. " Our Company's services are NOT for everyone " and we dont take the 1/4 acer lots in town

But you stated your seeking to land the big dollar jobs, while you say everyone doesn't have over 1000.00 to spend on landscaping.
I'm confussed.

What my views are is that some people don't always have the cash to put in a new sprinkler system, or relandscape their house so using a credit card would be a way for them to get it done and not pay immediately. Most high end jobs pay cash of check anyways but for jobs for the middle-class this should help. Just my opinion.
Posted via Mobile Device

ed2hess
01-20-2011, 07:55 PM
Isn't it kinda important to let the customer decide how they are going to pay rather then tell them:hammerhead:

Landscape Poet
01-20-2011, 09:58 PM
Isn't it kinda important to let the customer decide how they are going to pay rather then tell them:hammerhead:

Agreed. I do have a issue with giving a discount for a service such as using a discount. Yes you are making things more simple for yourself, but you are also making it more simple for them, add to that you are making it more "affordable" for some then why would you give a discount?

Now someone mentioned pre-pay - if that is the case, I can see giving a discount - because you are not extending credit. You are not putting your money at risk.

Florida Gardener
01-20-2011, 10:51 PM
What my views are is that some people don't always have the cash to put in a new sprinkler system, or relandscape their house so using a credit card would be a way for them to get it done and not pay immediately. Most high end jobs pay cash of check anyways but for jobs for the middle-class this should help. Just my opinion.
Posted via Mobile Device

I think that is smart.
Posted via Mobile Device

JimLewis
01-20-2011, 11:22 PM
First of all, I think you're on the right track. Unless you have a lot of capital reserves (not many LCOs do) to carry you through the regular ups and downs of this business, then it is really critical that you get control of your cash flow and reign in late payers. It's almost essential if you're going to grow your business. You can't just keep letting customers pay late and having thousands of dollars owed to you each month. The bigger your company grows, the bigger this problem will get. So getting systems in place now to control cash flow is really key.

We have almost all of our customers on monthly auto-pay or yearly pre-pay. We offer good incentives to get them to sign up for one of these options. But we send invoices out to only a very small percentage of customers. All other work outside of weekly maintenance (e.g. clean-ups, irrigation, landscape construction, hardscapes, etc.) we get final payment the day work is completed. So any given month we usually have almost zero in unpaid accounts receivable.

If you gotta use credit cards to do that, fine. So be it. I just prefer not to use credit cards, if I don't have to. We do take credit cards. We still process $10K-$20K a month in credit cards most months. But that's less than 10% of our monthly volume. I try to get checks whenever possible. All of our maintenance clients who are on autopay are on checking autopay. We automatically create pre-authorized checks on their account once a month, on a specified date.

I just don't like losing 3% (or more if it's a rewards card or Amex or Discover) in fees. And I also don't like waiting a few days for the money to arrive. On a $150 a month maintenance account it's not that big of a deal. But when you multiply that by several dozen $150 a month accounts, that's several thousand dollars you're now waiting for. Doing it via checking autopay means we get paid that day.

For larger jobs, we raise all of our quotes for any work 3% and then we offer a 3% "cash discount" if they pay by check. So then most people end up paying by check.

Either way, you're wise to force late payers to let you keep something on file and automatically charge them. That's how a lot of us do it. I just do it with checking account rather than credit card.

Clark Griswold
01-20-2011, 11:30 PM
That's a good idea Jim about the checking account payment, saves all the credit card fees which will add up over a years time, then multiply that by how many years you have that customer!

Plus it goes into your account instantly in most cases!

Landscape Poet
01-20-2011, 11:44 PM
. All of our maintenance clients who are on autopay are on checking autopay. We automatically create pre-authorized checks on their account once a month, on a specified date.


Explain in more detail please....this has me intrigued. I do not have many late payer (knock on wood), but any chance I can limit my exposure I will jump on.

JimLewis
01-21-2011, 01:21 AM
It begins at the bid stage. Whenever we give a bid, the pricing looks something like this;

The rate for this service will be $190 per month. Sign up for AutoPay (comes out of your checking account automatically once a month) and save $20! With AutoPay discount, your rate would be $170 per month

In this case, the rate I need to make a good profit is the $170 rate. I've bumped the rate up by $20 in case they don't chose autopay. But you don't present it as a penalty. You present it as a "discount" if they sign up. Pretty much everyone likes saving $20 a month. So 98% of our new customers sign up. Nobody really likes AutoPay. It's annoying to have stuff come out of your account automatically. But when you do it this way, it's their CHOICE. You're not forcing them to do autopay. You're just making it very lucrative if they do. People hate being forced. But everyone loves a discount. And most people will do just about anything to get one. So all of a sudden AutoPay doesn't sound so bad if it means you're saving $240 a year!

Once they are signed up, they get a form to complete (anyone can PM me with an email address if you want to see that form). On that form, they choose a day of the month they want it to come out (1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th or 30th) and then they provide us with some basic contact and checking acct. information. They also attach a blank check.

Then each month on whatever date they chose, we create a check using a proprietary check printing program we paid a few hundred bucks for years ago (again, anyone who wants to know what program, PM me with an email address). This program automatically memorizes every customers account number, what day to print the checks, and the amount. It also allows you to alter the amount or create another check at any time.

So now every 5 days I have a batch of checks that I take to the bank. The office staff creates them and I just have to deposit them on time. The blank checks cost just pennies. As opposed to processing a credit card which would cost over $5.00 to process for that same $170.00 a month account. $5 per account times even 100 accounts is $500 a month you're giving away. And personally, I hate giving money away if I don't have to.

So that's how it works.

Landscape Poet
01-21-2011, 02:36 AM
It begins at the bid stage. Whenever we give a bid, the pricing looks something like this;

The rate for this service will be $190 per month. Sign up for AutoPay (comes out of your checking account automatically once a month) and save $20! With AutoPay discount, your rate would be $170 per month

In this case, the rate I need to make a good profit is the $170 rate. I've bumped the rate up by $20 in case they don't chose autopay. But you don't present it as a penalty. You present it as a "discount" if they sign up. Pretty much everyone likes saving $20 a month. So 98% of our new customers sign up. Nobody really likes AutoPay. It's annoying to have stuff come out of your account automatically. But when you do it this way, it's their CHOICE. You're not forcing them to do autopay. You're just making it very lucrative if they do. People hate being forced. But everyone loves a discount. And most people will do just about anything to get one. So all of a sudden AutoPay doesn't sound so bad if it means you're saving $240 a year!

Once they are signed up, they get a form to complete (anyone can PM me with an email address if you want to see that form). On that form, they choose a day of the month they want it to come out (1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th or 30th) and then they provide us with some basic contact and checking acct. information. They also attach a blank check.

Then each month on whatever date they chose, we create a check using a proprietary check printing program we paid a few hundred bucks for years ago (again, anyone who wants to know what program, PM me with an email address). This program automatically memorizes every customers account number, what day to print the checks, and the amount. It also allows you to alter the amount or create another check at any time.

So now every 5 days I have a batch of checks that I take to the bank. The office staff creates them and I just have to deposit them on time. The blank checks cost just pennies. As opposed to processing a credit card which would cost over $5.00 to process for that same $170.00 a month account. $5 per account times even 100 accounts is $500 a month you're giving away. And personally, I hate giving money away if I don't have to.

So that's how it works.

One more question Jim - if you draw the check and there is insufficient funds...what recourse do you have, since you are the one that drew up the check, I would assume you still have all the legal courses of actions as the person has legally signed a document giving you permission to draw from the account?

JimLewis
01-21-2011, 04:31 AM
These checks are 100% the same as a regular check that the client has written. They've pre-authorized the amount and date and you get their signature on that. So it's just like any check.

As for recourse if you get a bounced check - first, that hardly ever happens. But when it does, we just re-deposit it. Almost always goes through the second time. No worries. I just pay the $4 fee or whatever, as long as it isn't a regular thing I don't even say anything to the client. If it bounces a second time, then we got problems. And I'll email or call the client and see what's up. It's so rare though, it's almost a non-issue.

Agape
01-21-2011, 08:23 PM
These checks are 100% the same as a regular check that the client has written. They've pre-authorized the amount and date and you get their signature on that. So it's just like any check.

As for recourse if you get a bounced check - first, that hardly ever happens. But when it does, we just re-deposit it. Almost always goes through the second time. No worries. I just pay the $4 fee or whatever, as long as it isn't a regular thing I don't even say anything to the client. If it bounces a second time, then we got problems. And I'll email or call the client and see what's up. It's so rare though, it's almost a non-issue.

Yo Jimmy!

I know we spoke about this before, but how much does it cost to do the checks?
I went with autopay through Quickbooks cause I can set it up to run it automatically on a set date, but it costs a bit. (still less than driving out to the customer to pick up a late check cause I have to pay my late bills etc...)
Worth every penny to get set amount on the 15th and the 30th!

JimLewis
01-21-2011, 11:29 PM
Donny! Sent you a PM.....