Try to come up with one thing that’s more important to your business than taking in revenue smoothly. Yeah, I couldn’t, either.
And making sure that revenue is coming in becomes almost an obsession when you’re feeling the squeeze of inflation on your profit margins.
Though talk of recession is hanging in the air, it doesn’t mean you have to passively wait for its effects. You can make a plan to survive it and even give your profit margins a boost.
When it comes to getting paid, opening every channel seems like the best plan. Strive for “low-friction” making it easy to do business with your company. But make sure you know what each channel involves before you do – like fees, rules, taxes.
Let’s take a look…
The Word on Payment Methods for Your Business
“Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid.” – Albert Schweitzer
There are more ways than ever for your company to get paid with each choice having good points and bad for convenience, speed, and security. Let’s look at the options and see if you’re using the best payment methods for you.
Is cash king?
Maybe, maybe not. You get your payment on the spot, there are no sneaky fees (as with many other payment methods), and with diligent record–keeping, you won’t get into tax trouble. If you sell relatively inexpensive items or services from a brick-and-mortar store, cash might be best.
Yet you might be surprised how many people don’t carry cash anymore, and your customers aren’t likely to make a major purchase with cash. And a lot of cash on your premises, frankly, can make you a target.
Did we mention diligent record–keeping to avoid tax trouble? We mean really diligent. You have to make a special report to the IRS if any transaction involves more than 10 grand in cash.
Give yourself credit
Credit cards (which consumers seem to prefer more than debit cards) can make a smooth transaction on both sides of the checkout. Taking card payments can expand your pool of customers and, via deposits right to your bank, streamline your revenue without you keeping a lot of cash on hand. They’ve also been shown to increase impulse purchases.
This convenience comes at a price for you in the form of multiple fees (such as per-transaction and monthly) or special equipment such as card readers (which can cost up to a grand or so). Note that fees for debit card transactions are capped but credit card companies set the fees for their cards’ transactions.
And with a cash purchase, the buyer has to show up and plead their case to get their money back. Chargebacks for returns from unhappy credit card customers can ding your account without warning. Some banks also hold merchants responsible for credit card fraud, a potentially expensive liability especially if you can’t process more-secure chip cards.
The quaint paper check is about as far as you can get from microchip technology. Yet some older customers prefer writing checks, and some businesses still take them – all you need is a business bank account and a smart acceptance policy. Best to take only checks from well-known or in-state banks or to use a third party to verify the quality of the check. Electronic processing of checks can come with a service fee.
Customers can stop payment on a check. And of course, checks can bounce. Not only does this sometimes nick you with a fee from your own bank but getting your money can then become an especially long process. And it could go all the way to small claims court or end with you hiring a collection agency.
Other payment methods
Mobile: Probably as many people own smartphones as hold credit cards – maybe more – and payments are usually fast and convenient, but you may have to worry about security, frequent app updates, and compatibility issues, especially if customers don’t have iPhones or Androids.
Electronic payments: Again, it’s fast and easy, especially if you have international customers. These are also pretty much indispensable if you sell online; they’ll calculate the sales tax for you. Fees tend to be higher here than with other methods.
Autopay: Customers often find this the best way to pay for subscription services, and you get your money regularly without having to send more than maybe an annual reminder to re-up. That can also produce problems for you, such as overdraft charges when your customer can’t make the payment and after-the-fact (sometimes angry) cancellations and demands for refunds.
Email invoicing: Good if you provide a service. Your bill goes out fast, which can produce a faster payment. It also makes your bookkeeping and accounting easier because it’s electronic, and you won’t have to track down paperwork. It doesn’t always work as well for retail, though, and there’s always the chance your bill will wind up overlooked in a customer’s spam folder.
Here are a few household names that offer options, just to get you started. (We can recommend others that might be better for you.)
Paypal: Mobile, online and in-person payment. An online transaction fee of about 3.5%, about 2% for in-person payments using a QR code. Various fees for other services such as credit and debit card payments.
Venmo: No set-up fee, a seller transaction fee of about 2%, no monthly fees. “Profile” needed. Other fees for such features as electronic withdrawals.
Quickbooks Payment: No monthly or set-up fees. Rates from 1% for ACH (Automated Clearing House) transactions to 2.4% to 3.4%, depending on how the transaction is processed.
In this day, setting up a plethora of payment methods is probably a good call. And you especially want to consider advancing your options as the world evolves and new methods hit the scene.
Even with this list of pros and cons, we understand you still need due diligence.
BE THE ROAR not the echo®
Janet I. Behm, EA, CTC