By Daryl Conner
Just as the styles for grooming pets has changed over the years, the way we get paid to groom has changed as well. Card readers that allow you to charge customers with a swipe through your cell phone or tablet, chip card technology to reduce theft, Paypal… it can all be a little confusing. Read on to clear up some of the more common questions groomers ask about this all important aspect of our businesses.
If you don’t accept credit or debit cards, it is a service you should seriously consider offering. New technology has made it simple and fairly inexpensive to offer this convenience to your customers. Studies show that people paying with plastic routinely spend more. Psychologically, people part with money more easily when it is in the form of a card instead of cold, hard cash. This means they are more likely to purchase an add-on service such as a shedless or spa treatment, buy a retail impulse item, or add a tip. Many people do not carry cash, and many more prefer the ease of paying with a card over writing a check.
When it comes to taking credit cards, compare rates. The market is huge and spending time shopping around for the best deal will pay off. Fees for taking credit cards vary widely. They may consist of a percentage of each transaction and/or a “per swipe” fee. Some, but not all, card readers also have monthly fees. Read all the fine print. Companies may lure you in with a low per swipe fee, but have a large monthly fee hidden in the little writing at the bottom of the contract.
This is a consumer driven market, and it is worth your time to do a little homework to find a great rate. If you find it galling to be charged to swipe a card, remember, fees for accepting credit cards are tax deductible!
Mobile Card Readers
For both mobile and shop groomers, mobile card readers such as “Square,” are very simple to use. There is no dedicated line to work with, no clunky machine to use. Simply plug the small reader into your cell phone or tablet to operate. Set up is easy. Keeping track of the account is a breeze, too, with all the information on line just a few key strokes away. Check out popular readers such as Square, Intuit, Gopayment and Paypal. Getting started with mobile card readers is very inexpensive.
Near Field Chips
NFC’s are payment apps that people carry on their mobile phones. Some common brands are Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. To accept this type of payment you would need a specific NFC reader, or need to update your current desk top credit card terminal to one that reads NFC’s. The benefit to this type of payment is that it is more secure for customers, since they never pass their account information to any vendor. They simply wave their phone over your reader and the transaction is complete. The two biggest players in this field at the moment are Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
You have probably heard about the new chip card technology. They are also called EMV cards, which stands for Europay Mastercard Visa. They feature global standard cards equipped with computer chips. There is new technology used to authenticate all chip card transactions. These new cards came about after many large scale incidences of credit card fraud and information data breeches. For groomers, it means you need to add new technology to process the cards, and comply with new liability rules.
The previous cards contained information on a magnetic strip. The new chips are harder for thieves to get information off of because the data is stored on chips that are encrypted. As of October of 2015, there was a liability shift. If your business uses the old magnetic strip technology, and there is fraud, you will be liable for the fraudulent charges. This means if the card is bad, you have no recourse to collect your funds. To be compliant with the new laws, make sure that you have a terminal that reads and accepts chip cards.
Here is a tip! Make sure that there is a tip line option on your credit card reader. Pretty much every credit card terminal has the option to add a tip line. You will find that your tips increase when customers are prompted to add one when they sign for their purchase. Did you know that they make digital tip jars now? You may have seen them in coffee or ice cream stores. Normally pre-set for a certain amount, (for instance, $1.00) customers can just swipe their card to effortlessly tip. This might be a great way to increase your tips or collect funds for your favorite charity. One common brand is called Dipjar.
Many businesses have adopted modern check reading/scanning technology. There are two kinds; one reads the micro strip (magnetic ink character recognition) on the check, the other scans an image of the whole check. The nice thing about having one of these readers is that it gives you instant authorization. Never again will you have to worry about having a check returned for insufficient funds. These readers can be added to your credit card processing package, and guarantees the funds at purchase just like a debit card.
Let’s talk about cash… times have changed and cash has changed with them. There are new ways to spot counterfeit money. It wasn’t long ago that vendors had to swipe bills with a special pen to find if they were the real deal or not. As counterfeiters become more crafty using new technology printing, those pens are no longer reliable. Now, larger bills have built-in ways to check to be sure they are valid. First off, look to make sure that the serial numbers on the upper left and bottom right of the bill match. Beyond that, check to be sure that the plastic “security thread” that runs through the left side of new bills in denominations of $10 and larger, is present. Hold the bill up to the light, or keep a small flashlight handy. You will clearly see the thread, printed with USA and the denomination of the bill. Newer $100 bills have a blue 3D security ribbon running down the center of the bill. One more thing to check is the watermark on the lower right hand corner. Normally a replica of the face on the bill, in some older money it is merely an oval shape.
What if you took cash that you suspect is counterfeit? Handle the bills as little as possible. Place them in an envelope. If you remember who gave you the bills, jot down as much information as possible about the person, including the date and approximate time you received the money. Then call your local police and they will direct you on how to proceed.
There are more options than ever before when it comes to getting paid for your hard work, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose 2-3 methods to offer to your customers so that they can have options. Do a little homework to find the best rates and easiest use methods for scanning cards and/or checks. Give cash a hard look before you slip it into your drawer. Then smile all the way to the bank. ✂