By Joe Marconi
Shop owners, you have a little less than two months before the end of the year. And that means it's time to start thinkning about your Tax Planning for 2019. Don't procrastinate on this. Meet with accountant. Review the year, review profit. Consider things such as major equipmenet purchases and other major investments you made in 2019. Look at bottom line profit and determine if you set aside enough cash to pay your taxes come April 15, 2020.
One thing, Cash is King, So, before you purhase any major equipment before the end of the year, listen to your accoutant, not the Tool Sales-person. In many cases, it's better to pay some tax and hold on to cash for a rainy day.
A little planning now will save you big time in 2020, and also help you sleep better!
Accepting Credit Cards at 0% cost
Credit card fees for merchants have drastically gone up in recent years, especially for reward card purchases, making credit card fees one of businesses largest expenses. Interchange fees for reward cards have gone up by 24% in a recent 4-year period. The highest reward card fees to a merchant are now around 3% of the transaction total (not including what the markup from whomever sold you their credit card processing). Many people have probably seen Samuel L. Jackson TV commercials promoting Capital One’s Quick Silver credit card, paraquoting, “The Quick Silver credit card will give you 1.5% cash back on all of your purchases.” Who do you think is actually giving these customers 1.5% of their cash back on their credit card purchases? You guessed it- you, the merchant.
What’s a business owner to do?
Do nothing Raise the products or services prices to account for higher credit card fees Offer a cash discount Don’t accept credit cards Or, provide your customer a choice when they pay with a card to pay a surcharge or not- 0% credit card costs to the merchant All of these options have their pluses and minuses, but with the ever higher and higher fees credit cards are charging to merchants, there are other methods where technology and consumer choice can help mitigate these fees.
0% credit card cost is relatively new legal method of accepting card payments in the US. The credit card companies fought to not allow consumers a choice to pay a surcharge with credit card or zero fees with a debit card. The credit card companies make much less money with a debit card opposed to a credit card... This case went all the way to the US Supreme Court this decade. The credit card companies lost and consumers being able to choose to pay a surcharge with a credit card or zero fees with a debit card is now legal in 45 states. The remainder of the 5 states will likely be joining the other 45 states in the near future as there are still ongoing court proceedings.
The US is now following the Australian model which has been allowing merchants to surcharge since 2003. Currently, 42% of all merchants in Australia pass on a surcharge to customers who use a credit card.
Here’s an option that you might not know about, until now:
When your consumer decides to pay with a card, they have two options. If they use a credit card, a small fee will be charged to their card. If they use a debit card, there will be no fee to the consumer. Our software does all the work and explains to the customer of their choice prior to the charge being authorized.
What exactly are the costs to the merchant and to the consumer?
For credit cards: Merchant pays zero credit card fees, the consumer pays 3.5% of the transaction amount
For debit cards: Merchant pays 1% + $0.25/authorization, the consumer pays Zero fees
A card swiper is not needed: credit card information can be typed in a phone, computer over the phone and in-person. A 'brick' card swiper/dipper is available if needed.
Works with online sales/invoices
Simple application process, no upfront cost, no term contract, no cancellation fee and complies with all credit card rules and regulations
If you auto batch by 8:00 PM EST, you get your money the next day
Up-and-running within a week
Benefits to the Merchant:
Being fair to your consumer by offering them a choice to pay a fee or not, while eliminating your credit card fees, which can be up to 3% of your total credit card sales.
Simple to use and all charges are viewable through real-time online portal.
Support: our team is there when you need us, but it truly is very straight forward.
We realize this solution is not for everyone. But, you now have the opportunity to no longer pay credit card fees, forever. Reach out through ASO or here if you are interested in discussing further: https://www.lomasolutions.com/contact
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I get the daily calls of wanting me to switch CC processors and with MUCH (misplaced) confidence, I refused to have a discussion with any of these guys, because I already had great rates. Then, I had a persistent one call me back and ask why I didn't want to talk. She said enough right things that I let the salesman come visit me.
My rates were and supposedly were going to get better over time as I built up history. Original Quote:
Credit Card Rate - 0.05% + Interchange (AMEX 0.055%) Debit Card Rate - 0.05% + Interchange Credit Transaction fee - 0.05 cents per transaction Debit Transaction Fee - 0.05 cents per transaction PCI Compliance-$9.95/monthly Chargeback fee-$10.00 (VISA, MC, Discover) $30.00 (AMEX) Paper Statement-$5.95 monthly (online statements free) The other guy comes in and tells me that my current processor increased my rates and added numerous junk fees. The rate raised to 0.25% for most cards and .75% for AMEX and now have a $34.95 platform fee and numerous other fees. At this point, I stand to save $250/month minimum by switching CC vendors. I did confirm that on day 1, my bills had way fewer fees. The bills also stated that they were raising rates along the way, so they were disclosed and allowed by contract. I'm halfway thru a 3 year contract with a $495 cancellation fee. This is what I'm paying now with the same processor:
Credit Card Rate - 0.25% + Interchange (AMEX 0.75%) Debit Card Rate - 0.05% + Interchange Credit Transaction fee - 0.05 cents per transaction Debit Transaction Fee - 0.05 cents per transaction PCI Compliance-$9.95/monthly Annual PCI Audit Fee - $99 Chargeback fee-$10.00 (VISA, MC, Discover) $30.00 (AMEX) Paper Statement-$5.95 monthly (online statements free) New Junk Fees - $41 To be clear, the interchange fees don't change on either deal. We are only dealing with CC processor markup fees and junk fees. The 0.05% is a markup fee over interchange. The new deal is:
Credit Card Rate - 0.05% + Interchange (all cards including AMEX) Debit Card Rate - 0.00% + Interchange Credit Transaction fee - 0.05 cents per transaction Debit Transaction Fee - 0.05 cents per transaction PCI Compliance - $0 (with a successful audit and $9.95/month penalty without one) Annual PCI audit fee - ?? Chargeback fees - $25.00 (VISA, MC, Discover, AMEX) - refundable if you win Monthly Charge - $10.00 As best I can tell, it looks legitimate. I'll be carefully reading the new contract tomorrow. So, the real question is whether or not I'm switching from one liar to another liar? This second one is telling me that my contract will have the rates guaranteed and locked in. If I see the right things in writing, I'll be switching. Will recoup my cancellation / startup costs in 3 months.
I guess the moral is get an annual checkup from a competitor.
Supposedly these rates are available as a result of being low-risk from my transaction history (or it's just marketing-speak). I don't know. My original deal was reasonable, but it isn't any longer. My plans were to wait for the 3 year contract to end before shopping around.
Loma Solutions represents a 0% credit card fee solution. We have 1000's of customers in the US and our solution makes auto shop owners thousands of extra dollars every year.
How does 0% processing work?
When your customer decides to pay with a card, they have 2 options. If they use a credit card, a small percentage of the transaction will be charged to their card. If they use a debit card, there will be no fee to the customer. Our software does all the work and explains to the customer of their choice prior to the card being authorized.
What exactly are the costs to the merchant and to the customer?
For credit cards: Merchant pays zero credit card fees, the customer pays 3.5% of the transaction
For debit cards: Merchant pays 1% + $0.25/authorization, the customer pays 0 fees
- A card swiper is not needed: credit card information can be typed in a phone, computer or over the phone. There is a 'brick' card swiper if needed*
- No set-up costs or any other fees
- Our agreement is month-to-month
- If you auto batch by 8:00 PM EST, you get your money the next day
- The solution complies with all card rules and regulations
- We'll have you up-and-running within a week
Benefits to the Merchant:
*** You are being fair to your customer by offering them a choice to pay a fee or not, while you are eliminating your credit card fees, which can be up to 2.5% of your total card sales.
- Simple to use and all charges are viewable through our real-time online portal.
- Support: our team is there when you need us. We will show you and anyone on your team how to use the solution, but it’s very straight forward.
Making you more money!
If your current credit card fees are 2.5% of your total card sales, for every $50,000 in credit card transactions, you'll put an extra $1,250 in your pocket.
* we will provide you with a ‘brick’ terminal: $35/month if needed. This includes free paper re-supplies.
Reach out if you'd like to discuss.
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By Joe Marconi
A few years back, my service advisor, Tony, was trying to sell a customer a new battery. Let’s call this customer Ed Jones. Here’s how the conversation unfolded; “Mr. Jones, my technician completed our 21-point inspection on your vehicle and everything checks out fine. However, I do want to discuss the battery. Your battery was tested with our Midtronics digital battery diagnostic tool, which is a very accurate piece of equipment. Your battery is rated at 575 cold cranking amps, and your battery tested at 300. Would you like me to replace the battery today?” Ed Jones looked at Tony, and three seconds later said, “Thank you for the information. Let me think about it.”
I know Ed very well. The car we were servicing that day was his daughter’s car, who was home from college for the Christmas holiday. Ed’s daughter is in her first year at Plattsburgh University in upstate New York, which is about a five hour drive and near the Canadian border.
I could see the frustration on Tony’s face, so I gave him a little advice; “Tony, ask Mr. Jones who drives the car. After he answers you, ask him what the car is used for. Listen to his answers and then use that information to sell safety and peace of mind, not a battery.”
Five minutes later, Tony reported back to me excited and amazed; “Joe, great advice! He authorized the battery! I guess you knew he would buy the battery with the right questions?” I replied, “You were trying to sell Ed Jones a battery by pointing out the technical process we use to determine the health of the battery. What you need to do is reach the customer on an emotional level. The questions I recommended you ask made him realize that it’s the welfare of his daughter he was really buying, not a battery.”
Now, let’s clarify something. Tony didn’t say anything wrong with his sales presentation. But he got the process backwards. He was leading with logic. If you’re trying to sell something by using logic alone, you are going to struggle. People make buying decisions based on emotions. To make a sale, you need to connect with the part of the brain where emotions reside, and then back it up with logic.
Bombarding the customer first with facts and features tends to confuse the brain as it tries to make sense out what you are saying. That can be difficult because the technical information is usually not fully understood by the customer and the confusion usually results in the customer saying, “No.”
Let’s review the conversation when Tony asked the right questions; “Mr. Jones, who drives this car?” Ed replied, “My Daughter.” Tony continued, “And what does she use the car for?” Ed replied, “She uses it to go college at Plattsburgh. She’s home for the holidays and goes back to school on Monday.” At that point, Tony realized why I urged him to ask those questions, and continued with, “So, your daughter drives this car back to college, and leaves on Monday. She goes to Plattsburgh, which is near the Canadian border. Mr. Jones, it’s wintertime and that’s a long, lonely drive. Her battery tested weak and may fail without warning. For peace of mind and your daughter’s safety, wouldn’t it be in her best interest to replace the battery before she leaves?” Ed now makes the emotional decision, “Yes.”
Here’s the bottom line. First, know your customer. Build rapport during the write up process and find out all the details of why the car was brought in for service. Second, tone down the technical side of what you do. That’s not to say it’s not important. But, before you give the technical facts, reach your client on an emotional level. Ask questions to find out as much as you can about the customer, and then direct the conversation to the reasons why what you are trying to sell will benefit the well-being of the customer and/or the customer’s family.
Remember, decisions are easier to make when it has meaning to them or a family member. In Ed’s case, not replacing the battery would have been unsettling to him. Tony’s recommendation to replace the battery is perceived as the right decision because it promotes the safety and well-being of his daughter.
Humans are driven by feelings and make emotional decisions, then justify it with logic. Next time you are trying to sell anything to a customer, ask yourself, “Why should the customer buy what I am trying to sell?” The answer may surprise you.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on November 1st, 2019
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