Want to Get Paid? Don’t Complicate Payments

Check and cash only payments are a pain in the ass–offer your customers options.

The other day, we hired a writer to create new sales copy for client landing pages. His work was great, communication was awesome, and he delivered ahead of schedule.

But, come payment time, our writer wanted money via wire transfer. He wanted to avoid transaction fees at the expense of our time. Most banks, require all sorts of info like account numbers, routing numbers, personal identification numbers, addresses you name it. Wire transfers are a pain in the ass.

We ended up paying via PayPal. He paid the transaction fees.

How Much is Your Time Worth?

Don’t get me wrong, I’d probably use the writer again, but things might have worked differently the first time around if he had provided multiple ways of getting paid. There was an almost guilting tone in the way he requested a wire transfer.

It caused friction because not just anyone can complete a wire transfer. In most cases, the primary account holder is the only person who can initiate one. That means my time would have been sacrificed when our accountant couldn’t appease his request.

Was I petty to think my time is too valuable to spend 20 minutes paying a contractor? Absolutely not. And, if you think I was, you should reevaluate how much value you place on your own time. Your time is better spent growing your business and improving sales than chatting on the phone to give money away.

Reduce Friction. Give Options.

Chances are, you’ve never requested that anyone pay you via wire transfer. But, maybe you only accept check or cash. It’s the same thing. To someone who routinely makes payments via credit card, your request for a check causes friction.

They don’t want to get out their checkbook, write a check, address an envelope and drop it in the mail. They want the option to pay online. Don’t annoy the person who is sending you money–it could be the one thing that prompts them to start looking at your competition the next time they need help.

Aside from Aaron Built Marketing, I own a vacation rental home. When I send invoices or collect payments for booking, my customers have options. They can:

  • click a link in their invoice to pay online,
  • give us credit card info over the phone,
  • mail us a check (old-school), or
  • pay cash in person.

We give our customers as many options to pay as possible and if one of those isn’t convenient enough, we’ll provide additional methods like PayPal.

Transaction Fees Are Part of Doing Business

You don’t want to provide more convenient payment options because you hate the idea of spending revenue on transaction fees. Sure, checks and cash save you 1–4% in fees but it’s inconveniencing your clients.

When cash and checks are the only way you collect payment, you’re not saving a fraction of revenue, you’re losing business.

Your customers are fickle people. They have all sorts of reasons why not to do business with you.

  • Your app isn’t optimized for their phone screen.
  • Your website looks terrible.
  • They can’t make contactless payments through their phone (because ‘it’s cool’).
  • They have to pay in cash (but never carry cash).
  • You’re causing too much friction collecting payment.

Build Transaction Fees into Your Costs

If transaction fees is the only reason you’ve been holding off on collecting payment in additional forms, you’re undervaluing your services. It could be time you start charging more for your work to cover the additional expenses of doing business.

That said, never line item a new fee specifically for charges from the credit card processors. It’s tacky. You don’t see additional charges on your grocery receipt when you pay with your card–invoices shouldn’t itemize them either.

If you’re paid hourly, bump up your rate. Collecting lump-sum payments? Charge a fraction more.

Don’t Offer Cash Payments at a Reduced Price

You’re not doing any favors when you reduce costs for clients who pay via check or cash. Never give anyone a discount based solely on the form of payment they use.

You’ll end up creating problems for yourself. The client who pays once with his card then again with cash will be pissed to learn that he could’ve saved $50 the first time around when he paid online.

Pocket the money, reinvest that small percentage back into your business, and consider it a bonus each time someone pays by cash or check.

‘Free’ Options for Collecting Online/Digital Payments

There are plenty of free options for taking new forms of payment. By free, I mean no associated monthly or service costs–you’re still going to pay a small percentage of every transaction. And no, I’m not getting paid to share these services.

Square: Square is an awesome credit card processor that comes with a free card reader used to accept payments on just about any mobile device. It’s especially useful when you’re running a brick and mortar shop or meet with clients on a regular basis. Your payments are automatically deposited straight into your checking account at the end of the day and will credit your balance much faster than checks.

Stripe: Stripe is a worldwide payment processor that integrates beautifully with any website. You’ll probably need a web developer to help implement this one, but once you’re up and running, taking online payments is incredibly hassle free for your customers. And, it’s extremely flexible. You can use Stripe for automated recurring payments, single purchases and even set-up unique checkout pages for every client that automatically updates whenever you issue a new invoice.

Wave Apps: Wave is a free accounting/invoicing service available entirely online. It’s not as powerful as Quickbooks but for most small businesses, this is all you’ll ever need while your company is still growing. When you enable card payments, every invoice will include a link to pay online. Your client can use any major credit card and quickly send you the money you earned.

You’ve also got options from just about every bank out there. My experience with these has never been great (If you know an incredible bank offered service, let me know!). Usually, their percentage fee per transaction is higher, their phone apps for collecting payments are clumsy, and the feature set compared to something like Square is pathetic. They almost always charge a monthly fee in addition to the transaction fees, as well.

Convenient Payment Options Are Good For Business

When you start providing additional payment methods for your customers, you’re going to attract more business: especially, if your audience includes younger people (most of them probably can’t remember the last time they wrote a check).

But it’s not just young people you’ll be reaching, you’re going to appease the ‘busy’ business types, everyone who doesn’t carry cash (there are a lot of us), and all of the people who don’t consider check writing one of their hobbies.

You’ll also have the ability to begin automating recurring payments. No more waiting on checks, calling to collect past due balances, or wasted time re-issuing monthly invoices. With additional payment methods, your finance department will get some much needed automation and you’ll have more time to invest in the business–attracting new customers.

Do yourself and your clients a favor, make payment simple.

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