Choosing a Payment System: Part 1

Amy Saunders

woman writing in journalAs the owner of a salon or spa, you are handling two very different aspects of your business daily.

There are the aspects that inspired you to start your business: the services you offer, the people you hire, the schedule you keep and the atmosphere you create for your team and your clients.

And then there are the decisions you have to make — like choosing a provider for payment processing.

This one decision will play a role every single time you take a credit card at your business. It will determine how much you end up paying on each card transaction and will determine how vulnerable you are to losses from “chargebacks”. Not to mention the cost of no-shows if it is not integrated to your scheduling system. This means that this one decision will have an impact in every transaction - every day you are in business. In an era when credit card breaches often make headlines, your choice of payment partner impacts how you keep your customers and your business safe from security threats.

In this series of articles, we’ll explain what’s important to factor into your decision about credit card processing so you can make a choice that prepares your business for success.

Factors you need to consider

When it comes to choosing a payment partner, you may have no idea where to start. You might already have a payment processor and point-of-sale device that seem to work fine, or maybe you’re simply using an app like Venmo or PayPal to deposit payments directly into your bank account.

There’s no shortage of options for payment partners, which can include companies specializing in credit card processing, your local bank, and point-of-sale platforms like Square or Clover. There are factors, like interchange rates, that you cannot control. What you can control is how the processor interacts with your client’s experience. You do this by identifying which processors “play well with other systems”. The one you choose should be agile enough to work seamlessly taking payment for a
service while calculating payroll and tips, but should also be able to track product inventory, sell e-gift cards online or anything else you juggle during the day.

Additionally, software companies like Booker partner with the leading payment processing services and point-of-sale systems that integrate with its multi-purpose spa and salon management platform.

Top 4 questions you should ask yourself

1. Is it easy to use? 
What set Uber and Lyft apart from the average taxi service? It was easy. Not only that it was accessible. Are you a yellow cab or a Black car? Making sure your clients can pay with no awkward questions, no mistakes, and no friction with any type of payment when they leave will ensure they are thinking about when their next appointment is - and nothing else. Integrated payments will give you the option to charge without them even taking their card out if you want. 

2. Is it safe for my customers?
You’re worth it right? If you guard your time against noshows like you should (and like most in the industry) you likely take a credit card or deposit to hold an appointment. If this information is not handled correctly with “point to point encryption” you are risking your clients personal data and your business - not to mention reputation.

3. How does it look? 
What’s on the inside is important, but whats on the outside matters too. If your hardware is old, clunky or anywhere in between, consider looking into some of the other sleek options out there. In addition, if it is older, it likely does not take chip cards, which can leave you at a huge risk for “charge-backs” which is when someone argues a transaction with the bank. If you cannot prove they were there, then you end up footing the bill. Ability to take chip cards + sleek compact hardware = always a must.

4. What are the fees?
Anything you read or learn about payment processing will tell you to look at the rates. Having an understanding of how they can be structured is very helpful. If you see “Flat Rate” processors, know that the fee ends up as an average of the rates you would have paid. A tiered structure will separate the fees based on how risky the transaction is.

Speaking of fees - we'll get more into that in our second installment of this series of articles. Be sure to check the Booker Blog next week for Part 2 where we'll give you the scoop on what these payment provider fees entail. 






About the Author

Amy Saunders

Amy is a content marketer who gets both the content and the marketing. As a reporter and editor turned marketer and business owner, she creates blog posts, e-books, website copy, emails, and social posts that simultaneously serve business goals and actual people. She built the foundation of her career as a reporter at The Columbus Dispatch, where she was named best feature writer in Ohio by the Associated Press. Since then, she has worked for a leading content marketing agency, where she wrote and edited health care content for hospital systems, and for the SaaS company Infusionsoft, where she focused on digital marketing advice for small business owners. She brings those strategies to life in overseeing all marketing for Strolleria, the baby-gear retailer she and her husband started in 2016. Whether she's writing about technology, health, strollers or anything in between, she translates complex topics into engaging content that helps people make sense of the world around them.

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