At the register

The Good

Modern consumers often seek businesses that offer the opportunity to pay with credit card because of the benefits associated with rewards programs, convenience and lack of cash-on-hand. Surveys have shown that consumers tend to order more (studies by VISA show a 20-30 percent increase compared with cash), increasing the average ticket amount as well as shop where they otherwise would not have if the option of paying with a credit card were not available.

More fast food retailers are starting to accept credit cards, making those who do not less desirable (currently only 15 percent of fast food retailers accept credit cards). Transaction speeds have been reduced from 20 seconds a few years ago to less than three seconds today. Visa and MasterCard have accommodated to this growing fast food trend by waiving the signature requirement for fast food retailers, thus speeding up the transaction process. MasterCard International Incorporated states, "The speed, convenience and payment flexibility that cards afford has become a way of life for consumers, who now demand an ever-wider variety of payment choices."

Accepting cards can help you with your loss prevention program. Cash is usually counted several times before reaching the depository bank, and often requires someone to transport it to the bank. Transactions require less time when change does not have to be counted, which creates the possibility of errors and theft. ECR (Electronic Cash Register) can be set up so that terminal hardware and software technology supports all payment methods to avoid data entry errors and duplicate transactions by entering information once into the ECR and once into the terminal. Multiple ECRs download into a PC based system, improving the accuracy and the efficiency of accounting. Such a system is ideal for fast food retailers that have a high number of transactions of any ticket amount with card present sales.

The Bad

There is a cost associated with credit card processing. However, with the correct program and processor, this cost is offset by enhanced revenue, easing customer traffic, less room for error and theft and labor savings. Careful selection of a processor and representative is a must to ensure you are set up on the correct program for your specific needs.

The Ugly

Credit card fraud is always a possibility. Fast food restaurants tend to have a regular clientele. With the no signature option for fast food, known customers can be processed very quickly with no signature, if you meet the criteria for that program. It is recommended that if the customer is not known to the employee that a signature be taken and compared to the signature on the card, or on their drivers license for identification purposes. If these few simple steps are taken, retailers can protect themselves against possible fraud.

Beginning to enjoy the benefits of credit card acceptance is easy! Merchants simply contact the credit card processor of their choice (we recommend calling several so you get the best deal) and have a personal sales representative to visit your business, negotiate a competitive rate plan and supply or reprogram existing terminals to include training your staff on how to accept a credit card for payment. The result is happier customers, and happier merchants. Just like delivery, if you don't offer the convenience and services, customers will go to the businesses that do.

Additional information for this article was provided by Ed Cornia of http://www.ebankdata.com. Ed can be reached at (801) 809-1045 or by email at ecornia@ebankdata.com.