By Rolando Navarro
Every business needs payment processing, including self-storage operations. However, handling this function internally can be time-consuming and confusing. Facility owners can reduce hassle and expense by outsourcing this function.
There are five basic ways a payment partner can save your business money and time while improving your customers’ billing and payment experience. The key to getting the most benefit from outsourcing is to choose a payment processor that provides support for multiple payment options, screens transactions for fraud, integrates with your management software, offers automated billing tools to reduce your administrative costs, and reduces the scope of your payment data-security compliance obligations. Let’s look at each of these criteria in more detail.
Payment Methods and Fraud Protection
A good payment solution improves your efficiency by handling not only credit card transactions but other forms of payment, such as paper checks and recurring Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments from tenant checking accounts. ACH payments cost less to process than credit card transactions, and instant verification of paper checks can reduce the incidence of non-sufficient funds check returns and bank fees. Likewise, fraud screening for card transactions can reduce the likelihood of costly credit card chargebacks.
A payment service that integrates easily with your self-storage management software and has technical resources to guide you through the integration process can save your staff hours in tracking payment and tenant information between systems without the expense of switching your software.
Automated Billing Tools
A comprehensive payment service will also allow you to set up automated bill presentment via e-mail or a mobile device, along with the ability to pay instantly online or via mobile device. This relieves your administrative staff of presenting bills via e-mail or through the postal service.
All businesses that process credit card payments via the card-association networks must comply with international Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS). Coming into and maintaining that compliance can be time-consuming and costly, but the costs of noncompliance are high, too.
By choosing a payment processor with comprehensive PCI-DSS compliance resources, your business shifts some of its compliance responsibilities to the processor. This can represent a huge savings in the event of a data breach. Fines and remediation costs for unprotected or inadequately protected small businesses can easily run to $50,000, and the damage to customer and banking relationships can be hard or impossible to repair.
Ask each payment processor you consider about its fees for each type of payment it processes (credit card, ACH, paper check, etc.). On credit card transactions, for example, all processors charge a percentage of each transaction’s value, and some charge a flat fee of a few cents per transaction as well.
Make sure you understand the overall fee structure for the average volume and value of your transactions. Many processors offer several plans with varying rates to accommodate a range of business sizes and budgets. Some of these plans may have monthly fees to participate or a monthly minimum in transaction fees.
Run the numbers based on your monthly billings to estimate your processing costs. To estimate your overall savings, factor in the cost savings related to administrative work, fraud losses, PCI compliance, and lower processing fees for ACH payments if you don’t currently offer that option. Finally, consider your potential costs going forward as your customers’ payment preferences change.
The payments landscape is going through big changes right now as alternative payments and digital wallets become the methods of choice for younger consumers. By partnering with a payment processor that keeps pace with the latest developments and security requirements, you can focus on your self-storage business and let your payment partner provide the most up-to-date, secure and cost-efficient services.
Rolando Navarro is senior strategic partner executive for Forte Payment Systems, which has offered payment-processing services since 1998. Responsible for the acquisition of integrated partner sales, Rolando has more than 15 years of experience in the electronic-payment industry. He’s implemented and managed a large portfolio of clients who accept payments through all channels, including the Internet, interactive voice response, mobile and point of sale. For more information, call 866.290.5400; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.forte.net.