For small businesses, the owner is often also the person greeting customers at the door, tending to clients, taking payments and scheduling the next appointment. While juggling an incredible number of responsibilities, it can be a challenge for business owners to stay visionary, creative and entrepreneurial while dealing with clunky tools of the past like cash registers and siloed credit card processors.
Small businesses that are ahead of the curve are investing in modern payment processing systems that communicate with all other critical software their businesses use in order to keep up. Bringing a fintech mindset to the business—whether the business is a bank or a pet groomer—is central to streamlining transactions and eliminating inefficiencies like manual errors, time consuming processes and costly fees.
In this article, I’ll discuss why I advocate for integrated payments, and share some of the benefits I’ve seen for small businesses over the years.
Why integrated payments?
That’s easy—it simplifies and speeds up checkout, reduces human error, improves customer experience, lowers rates and increases profits.
It’s clear that businesses still using cash registers are losing time and money. They are also increasing the likelihood of human error by manually tallying up services and add-ons. As credit card processing options evolve, such as portable POS systems, small businesses can start to feel like their payment options are modern enough to keep up—but they won’t be as effective if they aren’t integrating their payments into their broader business management systems.
Often strapped for resources, small businesses need to get the most out of their customer’s payments, and an integrated payment processor is the way to do it. Integrated payment processing link programs and update automatically, saving employees time spent tallying up transactions between the POS systems. Really, small business owners are the people balancing their own books at the end of the day, so an integrated system that operates seamlessly while the doors are open, should also be able to store all of their financial information in one place to easily access payroll, bill payments and financial reports.
Modernizing operations has become essential for today’s small businesses that are confronted with more and varied operational challenges than they were even five years ago. Businesses have had to change the way they run because of the effects of the pandemic (contactless is a must), evolving consumer expectations (cash, who?) and technological advancements. Implementing a modernized payments system that syncs with all aspects of the business—from the scheduling and customer profiles, to the payroll and membership billing—means the owner and employees are freed up to focus on important things, like customer service and growth pathways.
Benefits for the front desk and back-office
More business typically translates to more money, and an integrated payment processing solution can simplify solutions both in front of and behind the desktop to ensure that money turns into profit.
Today’s customers want convenience and speed, so the faster a checkout is, the happier customers are. Using an integrated payment system can facilitate quicker, touch-free transactions by securely storing card information for future visits, providing more convenience to loyal customers. It also allows small businesses to easily charge for no-shows or cancellation fees and use the checkout time to ask clients about their experience, suggest rebooking times or upsell products. Rather than copying data from one system to another, double checking the amounts and asking the client to authorize the purchase on another machine, employees should be able to make checkout a value-add experience.
Aside from customer interactions, an integrated system also makes back-office operations easier and more efficient. Receptionists, or business owners depending on the size of the small business, no longer have to manually enter charges or reconcile bank statements with closed tickets. Without integrated payments, employees are forced to multitask checking out customers, answering questions and more. A $112.70 charge might become $11.27, and after the transaction closes, no one notices the error until days or weeks later, and now there is no card to run for the correct amount due. Removing opportunities for mistakes helps to reduce financial loss.
Payments can no longer be a passive part of a small business’s operation or the customer experience. In a Mastercard study of small businesses across North America, 76% say the pandemic prompted them to become more digital, with 82% changing how their business sends and receives payments. Integrated payment processing provides an opportunity to add value to the business and to customers by taking advantage of the increase in digital payments, leading to the profit a small business needs.