These are strange times. Due to the rise of Coronavirus (COVID-19), more businesses are operating remotely than ever before. But, for some industries, telework just isn’t a reasonable option. This is especially true for restaurants. Even in a state of normalcy, one-third of small businesses report struggling with cash flow, so this pandemic is only exacerbating the issue.
Out of necessity, many foodservice businesses that typically accept cards face-to-face have transitioned to a card not present business (CNP) model. Restaurants, cafes, and breweries are all scrambling to provide carry-out and delivery as alternatives to their usual over the counter sales method. Many have pivoted to accepting more payments over the phone. If your restaurant business is doing this already, or considering making this move, this article is for YOU.
Right now, every cent counts, so it’s NOT the time to overpay on credit and debit transactions. These four tips will help cushion your bottom line and improve outcomes as we face this difficult time:
1. Avoid additional fees
Every time you process a debit or credit card transaction, that transaction is assigned an interchange rate. This rate is impacted by everything from card brand to industry, but there are some actions you can take to ensure you qualify for the lowest possible interchange rate on every transaction.
Batch out daily.
Transactions that sit unsettled in a terminal for more than 24 hours, often called “stale authorizations,” are frequently downgraded. This means you’re paying increased rates for every single one of those transactions. Avoid this problem by setting up your terminal to automatically batch out every day after business hours.
Don’t neglect AVS.
AVS stands for address verification system, which is a fraud prevention tool that confirms the address provided by a cardholder matches the address on file with the cardholder’s issuing bank. If the billing zip code is not provided, the transaction will be charged a higher interchange rate, so make sure the 5-digit billing zip code is provided every time you or an employee key in a card.
Ask for the CVV code.
Entering the three-digit CVV code from the back of the card won’t impact interchange rates, but it will help prevent fraudulent transactions. Many fraudsters don’t use physical cards—they’ve either purchased a list of card numbers or stolen the information themselves. Either way, without being in possession of the card, they most likely don’t have the CVV code. Fraudulent transactions will inevitably be charged back and that costs money. More on that in the next section.
2. Ensure accuracy
When you key in a transaction, the customer usually won’t have the chance to review their receipt, so data entry errors are more likely to result in chargebacks. Chargebacks are accompanied by a fee of at least $25, and the disputed amount is pulled from your bank account until the chargeback is resolved. Then, to get your money back, you must provide supporting documentation to prove the transaction was legitimate. Don’t have it? You don’t get your money back. Your restaurant does NOT have the time or money for this right now, so please, please, please, avoid unnecessary headaches and ensure data entry is accurate! A best practice is to repeat the total back to each customer while you still have them on the phone.
3. Calculate your effective rate
You’ve got a lot of things on your mind, and switching processors might seem like a hassle, but you need to take care of your business and your employees, and you can only do that by taking care of your bottom line. Are you overpaying on processing fees? Take a moment to calculate your effective rate.
To calculate your effective rate for credit card processing, divide your Total Processing Fees (found on your statement) by your monthly sales volume for the corresponding month.
The average effective rate varies but generally falls somewhere between 2.75% and 3.25%. If you’re paying more than that, reach out to us for a free savings analysis to see if we can help.
4. Consider other options
If your business is struggling, be creative and consider other options like:
Use a virtual terminal
A virtual terminal allows you to process payments from any device with an internet connection. This provides a secure way to accept payments over the phone or the internet for carry-out and delivery orders.
Running your business from home
If you must close your business location, can you run your business from your home? For example, a small bakery might close their physical location, but still accept orders online or over the phone, process payments from home, and then use shipping, pick-up or delivery to get the product to your customers.
If your business is struggling with cash flow due to COVID-19, we hope you’ll be able to implement these four practices to start saving money today.