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Card machines, hire business, etc

S

sign-age-graphics

New Member
Hi Everyone,

I saw an opportunity about a year ago and started a small fitness equipment hire business as a side project. Equipment is rented out on a 4 weekly basis. Most, but not all, clients choose to keep their equipment for several 4 week blocks. Up untill now, I have made appointments to visit all the clients 4 weekly to get them to sign a new hire sheet and collect a new payment or collect equipment. This was fine at the start, but the "wee project" is starting to grow arms and legs!

Ive been toying with the idea of getting a card terminal (one of the mobile ones i can take anywhere) for a couple of reasons...

Firstly, it would save me having to visit a client who wants to extend their hire (i could take a payment over the phone and post out their copy of the contract). And secondly, when a client wishes to return the equipment, sometimes they dig their heels in a bit... i.e. a machine might expire on a Monday, but the clients tells me (for whatever reason) that i cannot collect the machine till the Thursday meaning i have lost days.

So my main questions are, anyone use these type of card machines and give me a rough idea of the true cost? Turnover is roughly £1500 per 4 weeks.

Ive been reading about "recurring card payments", anyone use this method? Can i sign every client up for this? This would save them giving me card details all the time but also means i could debit from their account if the machine is late, lost, damaged, etc... and it would make clients return equipment more promptly if they were getting charged by the day!

Anyone have any experience of this or the hire business in general??

Like i said earlier, this started out as a project which has grown and is now interfering with my "day job".

Any advice greatfully recieved.

Andy
 
Scottish Business Owner

Scottish Business Owner

New Member
Hi Andy,

From everything I've read about credit cards the general consensus seems to be that the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) generally has the best offers but obviously you need to be a member.

Another suggestion would possibly be to look at Paypal subscriptions. I pay for a number of things on a monthly basis via a recurring Paypal payment. I certainly think that may be something worth exploring.

You could also speak with a chap called Chris Chirnside who I know is a real specialist in this area. Chris hasn't been on the forums for a while but I do know from many people that he knows his stuff.

Hopefully that's a few things to get you going with. Please do let us know how you get on as I'm sure others would benefit from what you learn and the option you decided to go with :)
 
Chris chirnside

Chris chirnside

New Member
Thanks to for his kind words.

I just noticed this thread, Andy please feel free to call me on 07538 026 815.

I won't try and sell you anything, but will give you the advice you need to make an informed decision on whether a GPRS Card Terminal is what you require.

As you may already know, there are alternative that may be more cost effective available now.

Regards

Chris
 
Last edited by a moderator:
stugster

stugster

Active Member
Verified Member
We used to use card processing and found the fees to be very uncompetitive compared to Direct Debits. Have you thought about having your clients sign a direct debit form so that you can take money off them automatically after raising an invoice?

We use EaziPay for our direct debits and our clients simply fill out the DD form, email it back or post it to us, and then from there on in we can debit their account as necessary, either regular monthly payments or one off payments as and when required.

It costs about £4 to run a direct debit batch (we have one process a month with all our clients on it) and then 25p per transaction (that's per "debit"). This worked out a lot cheaper than what we were paying before through Barclaycard Merchant services. I think we paid something silly like 2.5% plus 60p. This worked out at around £13 just for the one client's transaction every month. Compared to DD of just 25p (plus the shared cost of running the batch at £4)

P.S. watch out for the "recurring payments" part of the service. We got absolutely hammered when we did this. Because the card isn't present and the person doesn't officially "authorise" each transaction, the merchant account provider sees this as much higher risk of charge backs, and they sting you with an even higher rate. This was finally what pushed us over the edge to move to DD.

Also watch out for how long they take to actually pay you. I think we had to wait 30 days for money to eventually get to us - whereas DD is 15 days.
 
Chris chirnside

Chris chirnside

New Member
Hi Stuart,

You are right to not want to pay that, 2.5% plus 60p per transaction is very expensive especially as most people will pay by Debit Card and not Credit!

I recommend a system called CashFlows®, which is a mobile app, at present for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch (Android etc. coming soon),it is 25p for Debit Cards and 2..00% for Credit Cards - plus 15p per transaction. It's only £10.00 per month for the account which is a proper Merchant Acquiring Account and therefore is PCI Compliant and safe!

Also the money is in your account in 4 to 7 Working days.

You can apply online and be up and running with your free downloadable app in 24 Hours. You can find it here - http://www.chipandsim.co.uk

Forgot to say - The account can be integrated with your Web Shopping Cart at no extra cost and there is no contract, so you are not tied in should you not like the app.

Regards

Chris
 
S

sign-age-graphics

New Member
Hi everyone,

Ive been reading alot about cards, direct debits, etc in general over the last few weeks. And ive yet to figure out exactly what i could implement to streamline my hire business.

I was looking into a virtual terminal as a possible solution but ive had to put the whole card thing on hold temporarily. The only business accounts i have relate to my sign making business. I was hoping to just use one of those to recieve the money but im told it has to be an account specific to my hire company (is that right??)... I just assumed any old sort code and account number would be sufficient to recieve funds.

Anyway, while trying to understand it all (ive never delt with cards before),equipment was piling up and i had to get the machines on hire.

My main reasons for the cards are firstly my own security. I hire to the public and some of them are less than honest (ive had to call the police 4 times in the past year to recover equipment). Payments are made 4 weekly in advance. So on many occasions someone will take delivery of a machine, pay for 4 weeks, then after 4 weeks they will give you the run around. Lots of wasted time and expense chasing them. Direct debits are not ideal as it leaves the door open for a "less than honest" client to cancel them. Also, some clients only hire a machine for 4 weeks.

Secondly is convenience. When someones hire expires, i need to make arrangements to pop round and collect money/sign new paperwork. This is sometimes difficult to arrange a mutually convenient time. Ideal if i can just take a payment on the phone there and then. Ive read about "tokenisation" which sounds good as they wouldnt even need to give me card details again.

As you can tell, i still have alot to think about!

I read some stuff about the mobile app, Chris. Sounds interesting. Do you know if there is a Blackberry app too? (ive had a Blackberry for years now and only started to properly play around with it recently!)

Andy
 
Chris chirnside

Chris chirnside

New Member
Hi Andy

The Blackberry version is in Development (I believe!) not too long to wait, however you could run it on an ipod Touch available from the Chip+Sim website through Amazon: Used from £93.47, Refurbished from £129.90, New £136.00 - cheaper than a 4 year terminal contract at £20 to £35 per month!

You can open a Merchant account using a personal account or a Sole Trader Business account separate from your other business and you can take payments over the phone also.

The only thing to be aware of is that card processors do not like you taking money in advance, best to speak to you I think.







My number is 07538 026 815

Regards

Chris


 

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