I stopped taking Credit Cards for Installs

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JimLewis, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    For larger jobs (e.g. landscape installs, design/build, irrigation installs, etc.) we finally stopped taking credit cards this year.

    I had been taking credit cards for years. But recently it's gotten to the point where everyone wanted to pay by credit card JUST to get their airline miles. It seems that rich people with big limits on their cards have figured out they can rack up a LOT of airline miles by putting everything they buy in their card each month and then making one huge payment to their card at the end of the month.

    I was very hesitant. Because I was afraid we'd lose business. But as it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. The first time I got to the point of signing the contract and asking for the down payment and the customer pulled out her purse and said, "You do take credit cards, right?" and I said, "Actually, no. For larger jobs, we only accept checks." I was very worried. I thought maybe she'd say, "Oh....my.....well, that's how I was going to pay. I don't know if I can do this afterall." And then I'd lose a big contract.

    But as it turned out, every time this question has come up, and I said no, the customer has replied with something like, "Oh. No big deal. I was just asking....just wanted to get those airline miles, ya know?" (I smile) "I have the money here in my money market account. I can just write you a check instead. Here you go...."

    So it turned out that taking credit cards really wasn't affecting my sales as much as I thought it was. I was under the impression that since a lot of people were paying by credit card, that's why they were using our company. But in fact, I have found that is not true. I don't think I have lost a single job by telling clients we no longer take credit cards for large projects.

    So just FYI, in case anyone else is experiencing this and considering dumping the credit card machine.

    I actually did keep ours. We still find it handy for smaller invoices we send out for repairs or small jobs. We get a lot of people calling saying, "Hi, I received your $112.00 invoice for the irrigation repair job. I'd like to pay by phone with a credit card, is that okay?" And so it works well for those kinds of things. But not taking credit cards for larger jobs hasn't hurt us at all, near as I can tell. In fact, it's helped. Because now I am not paying 2-3% for credit card fees. I finally realized it was ME who was financing their airline miles, via the fees (discount) I was paying.
  2. GreenMonster

    GreenMonster LawnSite Silver Member
    from NH
    Messages: 2,702

    Yeah Jim, we don't usually take them for the larger installs either. People do seem to like the 180 same as cash we can offer through John Deere Credit. It's 3% of the total invoice. I feel the client out before the proposal to see if it would interest them, and if it does, I add it right to the total before submitting my bid.

    I like the CC machine for some smaller maintenance stuff, plus we get calls from clients to take care of the summer place (I live in a area with lots of lakes and seasonal people), and by taking a cc number, we can have a comfort level of taking care of someone's place without ever meeting them face to face. We have a handful of clients we've been working for 2-3 years that I've never met.
  3. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,345

    I dont accept cards for some of the very reasons you mentioned. The fees can really add up. I am quilty of using my card to recieve cash back. Everything I buy is put on the card, I get an itemized statement each month, which makes keeping track of where the money went much easier, and I only have to write one check a month. I like the cash back at Christmas, but I dont feel like financing someones elses Christmas gifts or their vacations.
  4. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    Great thread Jim! I would've thought along the lines that you had. We use Paypal and Clickbank now and very seldom is it used, but it is convenient to take CC's over the phone and on your site. Paypal's fee are like 2.9% which is far less than the machine was costing. Clickbank is similar, but I trust them more. Paypal likes to "freeze" funds.

    Anyway, great info Jim, thanks.
  5. cush

    cush LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    I figure the fee into my bid and when it comes time for payment I give them the potion of paying with credit card or they can have a discount for paying with cash or check. The customers usually take the discount but it still leaves the option to pay with cc. Overall I think people like the sound of getting a discount even though it makes no difference in my net profit either way. Also if you have a costco membership they have set up a partnership with nova for discounted rates, I think it is like 1.6%. For one time services such as cleanups and sprinkler blowouts I just prefer getting their cc# up front and it is charged the morning of service save a lot of time vs going to the door or sending an invoice. I usually just add 3% so if they do pay with cc I actually make a little extra money.
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Still, I always prefer cash (check).

    And my point was, why take credit cards for larger jobs when people are more than willing to pay cash? Like I said before, every time I've said, "No. Sorry we don't take cards for large jobs anymore." They always tell me, "Oh. No problem. I was just trying to get some airline miles. Here, I'll write you a check."

    So why even bother?

    I understand the reason for smaller jobs. But to me, I just don't even see a reason to give them the option for larger jobs. Credit card processing is just an extra hassle I don't have to deal with this way.
  7. tjsquickcuts

    tjsquickcuts LawnSite Senior Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 943

    A friend of mine who runs a Large Landscape Install company said he is also thinking about stopping credit card usage....They lost almost 6k from a customers because when they over coated the concrete curbn with the color, a little got on the customers walkway and He was pissed and they stopped payment on the credit card....American Express....They are good for it.....I know this not only because I am friends with the guy who did the install, but I now have the customers and he is still complaining about it....Credit cards are good and bad....easier for some customers to get what they want, and more profit for us....Anyone else ever have someone stop payment???
  8. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    Funny its mentioned...

    My wife and I have the Disney credit card where we earn a point for every hundred bucks we spend...or whatever the amount is. We try and take the family down to disney every few years so it made sense for us. We use that credit card for everything. We were able to bring over a grand in cash to spend in the parks last trips just for using this no fee credit card.

    But, you are right...if we need something done at the house (say a plumber) and he/she doesn't accept credit cards we will just wip out the check book. We won't not go to someone cause they don't expect credit cards.
  9. little green guy

    little green guy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 955

    I'm stopping CC for all larger jobs also. I've also got to switch merchant accounts. The problems I've been having are that when we do a transaction it takes 7-10 days for the money to get into my account, plus like you guys said they take thier percentage.

    The final straw for me was a couple months ago we had a transaction for 15k they wouldn't release due to an issue with the customers card, so in short, we ended up canceling the transaction so the client could just write a check, but the credit card company decided to take the money from MY bank account to give back to the client. The problem was they never gave me the 15k in the first place, then took 15k from me, so I was temporly out 30k for about 3 weeks while we figured the whole mess out. when they have access to your accounts it's not a good thing.

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