Should you setup a merchant account, and accept credit cards for your lawn care business? Absolutely! That is, if your serious about the success of your business. Think about all the business’s you use day-to-day. They all accept credit cards. In my own lawn care business I made the decision pretty early on to become a credit card merchant. I had already setup a monthly billing policy for my regular clients to save time and paperwork. I mow my regular client lawns on a weekly basis and bill them once per month at the end of each month. This worked great except that most clients are at work during the day, so I would leave their monthly invoice in the mailbox, and then I would have to wait for a week or so to get paid. This was alright except some people would always take longer or forget to send a cheque, while in the mean time, I would still be going by each week to continue mowing their lawns. I would also try to wait until I had received a good amount of cheques before going to the bank to make a deposit, because I found taking the time to go to the bank to be a pain.
Once I signed up as a merchant, at first I made it available as an optional form of payment as a convenience for existing clients who wanted to pay by credit card. I loved the ease and convenience of it. I would just take an imprint of the client’s credit card and keep it on file. Then at the end of each month after I generated their monthly invoice, I would charge the client’s credit cards using phone banking. The only downside I found to accepting credit cards was that depending on what company you use for your merchant account, the service fees can be a bit much. But nowadays there are so many more options available to traditional banks like FreshBooks for example. This is a great option that lets you offer credit card payments directly in your FreshBooks cloud accounting. The key is to look around and compare and see whats right for you.
For example, I am currently using a merchant account here in Canada with desjardins bank called the “ready to go plan” It is a flat fee merchant account that uses telephone banking to charge the credit cards. I features several different levels of the plan to fit many business’s. So starting at $40 per month you can accept unlimited monthly transactions up to a total of $35,000 per year. If you exceed that your account jumps up to $70 per month for up to $70,000, then if that’s still not enough it jumps to $100 per month for up to $100,000 a year in credit cards. This plan is perfect for the one man operation or small crew, because there are no transaction fees or percentages of the total transactions to pay, just the flat rate monthly fee so you always know what your costs are. After I signed up with this plan about 5 years ago I started making credit cards mandatory for all clients, because it now did not matter if I bill one person on their credit card or one hundred people I still pay the same amount each month. Now if a flat fee merchant account is not available to you in your area I would suggest that you try out a service like FreshBooks that integrates credit card payments into your accounting software.
So now I require all clients to provide a credit card that I can take an imprint of to start work, or to sign up for regular service. I get paid right away at the end of each month, and I don’t waste time chasing people for money. You can still accept checks if you want to, especially for commercial clients who may have different terms, but I have even started making credit card payments mandatory on commercial accounts as well and so far I have been quite successful at convincing all of them to pay by credit card. I use the visa and master card logos on my trailers, website and invoices etc., and on top of great consistent branding, signage, uniforms, online presence, etc. it adds to building that trust with clients that you are a legitimate business in it for the long haul and not a fly by night operation.