Imagine this. You arrive to pick up your dry cleaning at your local cleaners.  As you walk in the door you notice the stickers on the glass indicating that they accept credit cards. As you approach the counter and get your clothes, the very nice attendant rings you up and gives you the total, at which time you pull out your trusty debit card from your local bank and offer it up for payment.  The employee then says “You don’t have cash?”

How would you handle this situation? What would you say? How would you react and what would you feel about this business?

This was the exact situation that was presented to Lisa M. recently, and it was something she wanted me to address in my blog.

Lisa shared with me that she was taken aback by the comment from the employee. She then responded that she did not have cash, and that she assumed she could pay with a debit card because of the signage, at which point the employee indicated that they get charged $1 to do credit transactions, and the store would like to charge Lisa the $1.

Lisa responded with “Whatever you need to do, do it. I’d like my cleaning now!” 

Clearly this transaction rubbed Lisa the wrong way…and rightly so. She has indicated to me that she won’t go back.

It takes so long to gain a new customer, and it takes commitment to keep customers, and yet one simple statement, transferring ownership and responsibility to the customer, can lose a customer for life!  We want referrals, not angry customers.

In this specific case, Lisa is never going to refer more customers to this dry cleaning business.  She’s also not going back, as she indicated. It’s a double loss in this case!

There’s a cost to doing business, and credit card processing fees are a part of that.  I’ve written about this before, and it seems to be an ongoing problem. Businesses are so concerned with the 3% expense that they fail to see the 97% gain.  Regardless of how you do the math, a business benefits from accepting credit cards.

For me, I feel 2 different things when I encounter a business that refuses to take credit cards, the first is that they are hiding cash, and not reporting it.  While this may not be true, it is something I think about and anyone I have spoken to about this issue also agrees that it is MORE LIKELY THAN NOT, that this business is not paying their fair share of taxes.

Second, it’s a huge inconvenience for me to stop somewhere and get cash. I rarely carry cash. I’m much more likely to avoid a cash only business than I am to stop and get cash somewhere prior to going. (and I’m also quite annoyed if they offer an atm machine in their business, so I can get cash to pay them)

Being in business isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright hard, stressful, anxiety filled, and yet it’s also very rewarding. The simple solution to the credit card issue is to charge 3% more, then anyone that wants to pay cash can, and you saved 3%!  Just raise the price of your service by the 3% that you get charged by the credit card companies, and you will make more money.

The cost of doing business applies in so many situations. If I agree to speak somewhere and the contract includes travel, anything that goes wrong with my travel is on me, and it’s a cost of doing business, including a surge on UBER.  I can’t turnaround and pass off these costs to my client because a “surge” wasn’t part of the agreement! Whatever! That’s so petty! It’s the same for my vacation rental. I just visited my condo to do some maintenance and found a glass was broken, and a bowl was shattered.  Do I charge the guest? NOPE! It’s the cost of doing business!  

Let’s begin to shift our thinking toward caring about the customer, the transaction, and the success of our business by getting more referrals, and stay away from the negative thinking of things that cost us 3%!