For many home-service professionals, there’s no better feeling than getting paid for a job well done. And although many business owners would prefer to exclusively accept cash as a form of payment, today’s consumers often opt to use credit cards due to the abundant benefits they offer.
Accepting credit cards as a form of payment is essential in order for a home-service business to survive in today’s marketplace. However, the world of credit card processing can seem incredibly confusing for professionals whose businesses are still getting off the ground.
If you’re unfamiliar with the ins-and-outs of accepting credit cards as a form of payment for your services, this overview can shed some light on the subject and help you make informed decisions about your company’s finances.
Credit Card Processing Terminology
Before delving into the dirty details surrounding credit card processing, here’s a quick glossary of industry jargon business owners are likely to encounter while learning about this facet of business finance.
Aggregators — Credit card processing services such as PayPal, Square, and Stripe that aren’t considered banks or financial institutions, yet which can create merchant accounts and process credit card transactions on behalf of businesses
Card Payment Brands — In the U.S., these include Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express
Payment Gateway — An e-commerce service provider that authorizes online credit card payments by transmitting a transaction from a merchant to a credit card processor
Issuing Bank — Any financial institution that issues credit cards to consumers
Merchant Bank — A financial institution that provides an array of merchant account services to facilitate transactions to bank accounts
POS Payment — Point-of-sale transactions that occur at a business’s physical location
Processor — A third-party that assumes the responsibilities of a merchant bank by conducting credit card transactions and routing payment details to an appropriate merchant account and payment network
How Small Businesses Can Accept Credit CardsWhen it comes to accepting credit cards from customers, modern businesses have several options regarding the method they choose. Here’s a quick look at the most common types of processing and how they compare.
Mobile Processing — Mobile credit card processing allows small businesses to accept credit or debit card payments via a smartphone or tablet instead of a traditional terminal or POS system.
Mobile processing is far more versatile than its in-store counterpart.
In general, mobile processing is more affordable for businesses than systems tied to a specific location.
Business owners that use mobile processing have the freedom to accept credit cards from virtually any location.
Brick-and-mortar businesses can use mobile processing to establish additional checkout areas without requiring additional cash registers.
Mobile processing companies generally charge fewer and lower fees compared to traditional credit card processors.
Mobile processing makes it easy for customers to tip home-service professionals by providing preset percentages at the time of checkout.
Mobile processing devices without printers could negatively affect the user experience by requiring customers to type in an email address or phone number in order to receive a receipt.
Although mobile credit card processing devices are usually less expensive than standard terminals, some processors charge several smaller fees that can quickly add up to a significant sum.
Online Processing — This safe and reliable method allows merchants to easily accept payments from buyers anywhere in the world, giving business owners more resources to devote to their companies’ growth.
This option gives consumers a convenient way to pay for a product or service without requiring them to travel to a specific physical location.
By making it incredibly easy to pay for services, business owners can reduce — or even eliminate — the likelihood that customers will consider competitors.
It’s possible that sensitive information, including credit card numbers, can be accessed — or even stolen — leaving businesses responsible for their customers’ security.
Cloud-based POS Processing — This flexible and affordable form of payment processing usually involves a combination of scanners, printers, and cash drawers as well as internet-connected devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Small business owners that use cloud-based POS processing can access sales data regardless of their location, and they can view the status of their inventory in real-time.
Most POS systems allow employees to split checks for customers and this technology makes it possible to establish and maintain loyalty programs, which can improve customer retention.
If a company relies on a POS system that is hosted in the cloud, a poor internet connection could cripple its ability to process payments.
Traditional Terminal Processing — The standard method of payment processing used by businesses across various industries, traditional point-of-sale terminals allows customers to make everyday purchases using credit or debit cards.
By leveraging digital wallets and contactless payments, business owners can use terminal processing to speed up the payment process by giving customers an effortless way to pay for products and services.
Credit card fraud is still a common problem in today’s marketplace.
Terminal processing is often more expensive than other methods of payment.
The Best Ways for Small Businesses to Accept Credit Cards
So what’s the best way for home-service businesses to accept credit cards? The answer depends on a few different factors.
If, for instance, you’d like your workers to be able to accept credit card payments anytime and anywhere, your best bet is likely to be a mobile credit card processor. On the other hand, if you’d prefer to collect payment from your customers via your website (either before or after the services are rendered), an online processor is an ideal solution. And if your business sells products as well as services — a cloud-based POS processor might be an ideal fit. Also, if you desire to sell products alongside your services, a cloud-based POS system may allow you to integrate credit card transactions with your accounting software and CRM software to seamlessly merge data from offline and online sales.
Regardless of which method you choose to implement for your small business, it’s important to note that online payment processing systems are becoming increasingly necessary for home-service companies. If you want your business to remain relevant and competitive, a cloud-based processing solution can help your company appear every bit as efficient and professional as larger organizations.
What Is the Cost of Accepting Credit Cards?
The cost of accepting credit cards can vary wildly based on several factors including which processing method you choose, what fees your specific processor charges, and how your individual customers decide to pay for your services. The amount payment processors charge can range from reasonable to ridiculous, but, generally, they include the following fees.
Terminal Fee — Physical stores with POS terminals are generally required to pay a flat monthly fee for each terminal used to swipe credit cards.
Payment Gateway Fee — Akin to terminal fees, this variable fee exclusively applies to e-commerce businesses.
Statement Fee — To cover the costs of printing and mailing credit card statements, most payment processors charge a monthly fee that can range from $5 to $15.
Monthly Minimum Fee — Most processors require businesses to conduct a specific amount of credit card sales each month or year, and, if a business fails to reach that threshold, an extra fee is usually added on as a penalty.
Average Discount Rates Fee — This variable fee, which is calculated based on a percentage of a sale, is wholly kept by the credit card processor.
Transaction Fee — This fixed fee applies to all transactions and, depending on a business’s size, sales volume, and merchant processing history, it generally falls in the range of 2-4% of the sale amount.
Interchange Fee — This non-negotiable fee is consistent across all processors and is usually included in the transaction fee.
Address Verification Service (AVS) Fee — This mandatory fee is tacked onto all e-commerce transactions.
Is There a Cheaper Way for Small Businesses to Process Credit Cards?
If you’re looking for the most affordable way to process credit card payments from your customers, here are a few quick tips that could save you some serious cash.
Negotiate a Lower Rate — Credit card processors often have a lot of latitude regarding how much they charge businesses.
Swipe as Often as Possible — Most processors charge a higher fee for keying a credit card number into a terminal as opposed to swiping or inserting cards.
Enlist an Expert — Hiring a qualified credit card processing consultant could help you save money in ways you didn’t even know existed.
Credit Card Processors for Home-Service Businesses
If you’re ready to select a credit card processing service for your small business, here are three options you might want to explore first.
If you own or operate a business that services customers in their homes, Housecall Pro could be the clear choice for you. This app-based platform offers a full suite of financial services for small businesses, including invoicing and payment processing.
Housecall Pro’s mobile credit card processor has a rate as low as 2.69% (compare to Square’s 2.75%). This credit card reader built for small home service businesses also allows you to text/email your invoice to customers.
Housecall Pro also offers business owners a comprehensive overview of their financial picture using the My Money dashboard, and with Instapay and card-on-file, customers can pay more quickly, and funds can arrive in your bank account in as little as 30 minutes.
The granddaddy of all online payment processors, PayPal PayPal offers a robust feature set for businesses across all industries. PayPal lets businesses accept a variety of payment types online or in-person, and it gives customers the option to pay via PayPal, credit cards, debit cards, Venmo, and Apple Pay. Workers can also accept payments on-the-go by using the PayPal card reader in conjunction with a tablet or smartphone.
The first big name in mobile payments, Square makes it easy for home-service workers to accept payments by using a small credit-card scanning dongle that easily attaches to smartphones and tablets. Square doesn’t require users to agree to any long-term contracts or commitments, and deposits usually arrive in a business’s bank account in one or two business days.
Not all credit card processors were created equal, and one particular processor is likely to be a better choice for your business than another. For home-service businesses, however, it’s hard to beat Housecall Pro. If you’re eager to learn more, request a free demo today to see how much of a difference Housecall Pro can make for you and your business.
Housecall Pro is rated the #1 software to run your HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Carpet Cleaning and other home service businesses. Our features allow you to schedule and dispatch jobs, get booked online, send invoice and receive payment within minutes whether if you are in the office or out in the field. This comprehensive software can help you grow revenue by 30% in one year and save up to 500 hours a year. Join all the other successful home service businesses who have already started and try Housecall Pro for 14 days free today.