What Every Entrepreneur Should Know Before Opening Her First Retail Business

Congratulations! You’re an entrepreneur! This is a very exciting time. However, it can also be a very stressful time. Before you welcome the public in, here’s what every entrepreneur should know before opening their first retail business.

As a new retail business owner, the single most important thing you must do is have a solid understanding of sales processing. Without a top-notch merchant account provider and a modern terminal for processing sales, you won’t get very far with your new business venture. If you select the wrong merchant account provider, expect to get stuck with paying expensive lease prices on equipment your business likely does not need. To add insult to injury, these companies usually also charge exorbitant fees for monthly service.

Retail Merchant Accounts 101

Before you can start looking for the right merchant account provider, you need to know the basics of merchant accounts. What are they, and what do they do?

You know that merchant accounts are specialized accounts that allow business to accept credit cards transactions for sales. Customers present their cards, and either clerks or customers swipe their cards via the strip on the processing terminal. After the bank has ensured whether funds are available or not, the sale is completed. The funds appear in your merchant account in a few days. If a card that has been reported as lost or stolen, the bank halts the transaction.

Get Your Store in Order

Have you decided where you want to place your credit card processing equipment? This is something you need to select before you even begin to search for your merchant account provider.

Here are some things to think about when deciding where to place processing equipment:

1.  Customer Access
If you’ll be accepting debit cards, customers must have the ability access your terminal (or PIN pad) so they can enter their PIN.

2.  Fast Processing
When it comes to completing sales, the motto is always “the faster the better.” As we all know, customers can be very impatient. In the retail biz, speedy checkout times are a must. Make sure your terminal is in an area that provides quick, in and out service.

3.  Where’s the Jack? 
Your credit card terminals must be located close to telephone jacks in order to have a connection.  If your desired terminal location isn’t near a jack, have the telephone company come to the store and install jacks where you'll be placing the processing equipment.

4. You Have a Call on Line Two

It’s always a wise choice to purchase two phone lines from the phone company for connecting your terminal. Otherwise, you’ll tie up the phone lines when you’re processing transactions. If you can’t receive calls, you miss sales. This will not do.

Selecting Your Retail Merchant Account Provider

This part is all about research, research, research. Obviously, if you fail to do your research, you risk getting stuck with high monthly fees, and a terminal solution that’s likely beyond what you actually need.

It’s important to take your time when you’re searching for your merchant account. There are lots of great deals out there. Take your time and find one that’s absolutely perfect for you. There are three main factors to consider during this search: 1. Provider integrity 2. Customer service 3. Price.

1. Integrity: Buyer beware! Just because a provider has a snazzy logo or lots of official postings on their site doesn’t mean they’re ethical. Many telephone sales reps will tell you whatever it is they think you want to hear just so they can make a commission. Some things to look out for.:

  • Beware of companies that always send you to voice mail whenever you call
  • Any site that doesn’t clearly post all their rate information online
  • Sites that don’t clearly show which bank(s) they represent. Did you know it’s against the law merchant account providers not to show what banks they represent on their website?
  • Sites utilizing free web hosting services are almost certainly scammers. Do not under any circumstances trust them.
  • Sales reps should always answer your rate and agreement questions clearly and freely. If they give you the run around or seem grossly ignorant, just hang up and move on to another company.

Once you’ve found a company you like, make sure and examine their merchant agreement with microscopic focus. After all, it’s your money. Don’t allow less than honest companies to take what you’ve worked so hard for. There are many reputable merchant account providers out there. Merchants who are well-informed are far more likely to find them than those who don’t do their homework. Clearly, since you read this, you’re in the first category. Cheers to your success!