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Getting the Best Out of Your Merchant Services: Top 5 Things to Look Out For

Updated: Feb 11

When it comes to Merchant Services (credit card processing), we know that it’s not the top of everyone’s bucket list to negotiate a new deal with providers. Processing is notoriously difficult to understand. In addition, the endless array of pricing, promotions and hardware options are enough to leave you completely lost. While rates are obviously top-of-mind for a practice looking to lower the bottom line, getting a general overview of the support and benefits you can expect is just as important. Remember, these companies are handling something as vital as accepting payments.

Customer Service

Between point-of-sales terminals, the banks and secure storage of data, there are many moving parts to each transaction. Occasionally things go wrong – whether it’s a connection issue or a hardware problem. Seek out reviews, testimonials, and inquire about features of their customer service team (multilingual, 24/7, technical expertise). Do their offerings fit your needs?

Effective rate

Your effective rate is the average percentage per transaction that is charged to process a credit card. Come prepared with your own calculations for your total effective rate. This will give you a good idea of their competitiveness. Below is a simple equation that will give you a basic idea of your current processing fees.

Effective Rate = Total Fees / Total Gross Sales Volume

But remember, the most affordable offering isn’t necessarily the best decision for your practice. Consider your rates alongside all the other benefits a processor provides. Because a well-rounded processor might be more expensive, don’t write them off! They will likely ensure less headaches (and time saved) in the future!

If you’re considering a limited-time promotion from the provider, calculate the increase in costs after the promotion finishes – this, alongside issues with customer service – is one of the biggest reasons companies switch.

Data Security

Data protection is a constant challenge for financial institutions. Failure to keep data secure could cause significant issues for your business. Security is crucial in maintaining trust with your pet parents. So, we advise taking an active interest in how your customers’ credit card data is stored and kept secure.

The technical stuff: To process and store transaction data, your processor will utilize front and back end servers – hopefully provided by an excellent service provider who are leaders in online security and data encryption. Red flags include “we provide our own front end” and “we don’t share that information”. Review historical information for any data breaches and how regularly they update their security technology.

Length of contract term and cancellation policies

Sometimes, the cost of credit card processing can be make or break for small businesses. It’s not uncommon to see cost increases as promotions expire, or general fee increases during the lifetime of an agreement. This practice is common in credit card processing, and puts small community businesses at particular risk. During our 17 years of championing and supporting small businesses, we’ve seen every tactic under the sun to pressure business owners into staying locked-in to an agreement. For instance, we’ve seen closing fees to threatening clients with repaying “damages” for future lost business from their arrangements. Our advice is to ask about the contract term and their cancellation policies, and make sure all assurances should be in writing.

How can I trust you with my credit card processing?

When you paint a complete picture of the way your business accepts payments, you’ll quickly realize how individual your needs are. For instance, the services you provide, the type of credit cards, and the sizes of transactions can influence your relationship with a Merchant Services provider. A good credit card processing company will take the time to analyze the makeup of your processing. They should provide you with a transparent breakdown of the rates they offer, and provide you with the equipment you need to accept payments in a way that suits you. Gravity Payments proudly offers the industry’s leading consultative approach to credit card processing. We achieve this by listening to your needs and providing a solution that works just for you.

The Takeaway

Whether you’re taking curbside or exam room payments, you have an online pharmacy, or you’re out on the road and want to ensure you get paid – your needs are specific to you. Make sure you’re being heard, and actually being helped.

Find out what it means to get the white glove treatment at your practice: Give Gravity Payments a call or schedule a no-obligation consultation with their veterinary experts today.

Our Advice on Merchant Services in Veterinary Practice in 2024

What aspects of customer service should be considered when choosing a merchant services provider?

When selecting a merchant services provider, prioritize customer service features like 24/7 availability, multilingual support, and technical expertise. It's essential to choose a provider with a reliable and responsive service team capable of addressing issues efficiently. This ensures minimal disruptions in transaction processing and maintains smooth operations for your veterinary practice. Always check for positive reviews and testimonials to gauge their service quality.

How can you calculate the effective rate for a credit card processing service, and why is it important?

To calculate the effective rate of a credit card processing service, divide the total fees paid for the service by the total gross sales volume processed through cards. This formula, Effective Rate = Total Fees / Total Gross Sales Volume, gives you the average cost per transaction. Understanding the effective rate is crucial as it provides a clear picture of the processing costs relative to sales, allowing you to assess the service's affordability and compare different providers effectively. It's a key metric in financial planning for veterinary practices.

What are the crucial factors to consider regarding data security in merchant services?

When considering data security in merchant services, it's vital to focus on how customer credit card data is stored and protected. Ensure the provider uses advanced security measures, like robust encryption and secure servers, for data processing and storage. Verify their compliance with industry security standards, such as PCI DSS. Investigate their history for any data breaches and their response to such incidents. A provider's commitment to continuously updating security technology is critical to protect against evolving cyber threats and maintain client trust.

Why is it important to understand the length of contract terms and cancellation policies in credit card processing agreements?

Understanding the length of contract terms and cancellation policies in credit card processing agreements is crucial to avoid unexpected commitments and fees. Such knowledge helps veterinary practices manage costs effectively when rates increase post-promotion or due to policy changes. Awareness of these terms allows informed decision-making, ensuring the practice is secured in suitable and affordable agreements. It also provides flexibility, enabling the practice to switch providers without prohibitive cancellation penalties or legal complications. This understanding is critical to maintaining financial control and adapting to changing business needs.

How can a credit card processing company tailor its services to meet the specific needs of a veterinary practice?

A credit card processing company can tailor its services to a veterinary practice by analyzing its unique transaction patterns, including the types of services offered, the average transaction size, and the most commonly used credit cards. This analysis helps in providing customized rate structures that are cost-effective for the practice. Additionally, they can offer specialized equipment and software integrations that align with the practice's workflow, such as portable payment terminals for curbside services or seamless integration with veterinary management software. By focusing on these specific needs, the processing company ensures efficient, secure, and convenient payment solutions that enhance the practice's operational efficiency and client satisfaction.

DVM Elite members contact your Practice Strategist about your special Gravity Payments discount offer or click here!

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