Whether your business exists with a bricks and mortar location, has an online presence alone, or you function as a consultant — working out of wherever needed, the more organized you are with payments, the better.
The right payment infrastructure will help you keep things liquid, from a cash perspective, and will also help you serve more customers. Read on for some considerations and ideas when setting up payments for your services website.
Credit Card Processing is Not the Only Answer
Credit card processing is a common way to handle purchases, but online and off, but if you leave this as the only available option, you could be closing the door to some potential customers.
Having several options for customers will increase the opportunity of dealing with more people. Credit cards are not necessarily the preferred method of payment for all businesses and individuals, so the option to pay by e-check or a service like PayPal could help you open more doors to customers. And depending on your type of business, payment in advance by a customer for a service might not make them 100% comfortable.
Streamlining payments so they can be done online can make a lot of sense but if possible, do not limit your customers to only be able to make payments online.
Over the Phone
If you also offer a way to pay via telephone, this could open up more doors as well. Most people who are savvy internet users are comfortable making online payments, but the option to call your company to process an order does two things:
- It gives people without online purchasing experience another option that will make them feel more comfortable.
- It gives you an opportunity to illustrate that you are a real company. Consumers are wary of online scams. Seeing a toll free number on a website can help you overcome buying objections.
PayPal is a popular option for many small businesses online because it offers the ability to use credit cards, instant PayPal payments, and e-check options as well. If your service is something that can be paid in installments or via a subscription, PayPal also makes it easy to set up automated payment schedules.
PayPal can be easily integrated into your website as a payment system or the payment service also gives you the option to invoice clients directly.
PayPal isn’t the only payment or merchant service provider online so you may want to look at other options as well. Some services offer software to help automate payments, shopping carts and so on. Beyond the traditional merchant options, here are a few others you might want to investigate:
If you use Quickbooks as your accounting software, the publisher, Intuit, offers a payment service that lets you integrate payments with your software, which could make things simple for you in terms of bookkeeping as well as offering several choices for customers.
Square is a payment provider that works with some smartphones to accept credit card payments with your phone. This could also be a good idea for your services business when you deal with people face to face.
If you are delivering services, there are escrow services that will manage the payment for you. This can help establish trust with a customer. You get the security of the funds being collected in advance and the customer gets to feel secure in that their money is safe until both parties agree that the service has been completed to satisfaction.
There are several options for escrow services. Elance is a freelancer to buyer service that can offer escrow payment options. It’s also a place where you can bid on new business, too, as there is a marketplace for buyers and sellers of several types of services (IT, web design, programming, virtual assistant / administration, and a few other categories) to connect. There is also an online service called Escrow.com that offers escrow services as well.
The above list of ways to accept payments online is not exhaustive but gives you an idea of some of the options that are available to help you maximize your ability to serve your customers and to get paid easily.
A streamlined payment process for your services business will minimize the risk of loss, will limit the wait time for receivables, will help you optimize your customer’s ease of doing business with you, and will simplify your collections process.