The ability to accept credit cards is a must for any modern business. But franchise systems shouldn’t be afraid to expect more from their payment-processing vendor.
4 min read
On its face, choosing a credit card payment processor is a simple matter of numbers. What percentage of each transaction does the processor take? What are the fees involved?
But for a growing business, choosing the right payment processor can be more of an art than a science. The factors that matter most are a little harder to quantify: customer service, tech support and a smooth interface between the processor and the point-of-sale (POS) system that handles your transactions.
That’s especially true for franchise systems. In addition to payment processing, franchises may also need their vendor to help generate sophisticated reports or manage loyalty programs, which need to function smoothly across multiple locations.
“Processing rates and fees are all kind of similar, especially for large franchises that negotiate at scale,” says Matt Taylor, executive VP of global integrated payments and SMB eCommerce for processing company Worldpay. Finding a partner that will give you the kinds of support your business needs is more nuanced.
“You’ve got to make sure that the POS system and integrated payments functionality work seamlessly together,” Taylor says. “Then when there’s a problem, because there often is — retail and hospitality are messy environments — you’ve got to make sure you get the right support equation between the POS partner and the payments provider.” Here are three questions to ask when searching for a payment-processing vendor.
1. Does it evolve with the industry?
With the rise of cloud-based computing, more sophisticated security requirements, and the proliferation of mobile payments, the technology of payment processing is evolving fast. A good processor is one that’s invested in keeping up. “I’ve seen more innovation around payments and point-of-sale in the past five years than the previous decade,” Taylor says. As an example, he points to EMV, the chip-based system that most card issuers and point-of-sale system providers have switched to in recent years. Worldpay built a new feature to support EMV for cloud-based payment systems. “Originally, EMV didn’t fully address considerations in terms of workflows for cloud-based POS,” Taylor says. “There was a real dearth in the market for functionality.”
2. Which size is right for my company?
The payment processor space is dominated by a few major players. Worldpay is one of them, responsible for more than 40 billion transactions a year across 146 countries — a scale that can be especially appealing to big companies. But there’s another end of the spectrum: specialists like Franchise Payments Network, a midsize payment-processing business dedicated to franchise systems, which is familiar with the quirks of the industry. “Depending on how robust the franchisor’s home office is, sometimes we’re really their outsourced IT department,” says founder Tom Epstein.
3. How does it handle loyalty programs?
Payment processors are deep in the loyalty game, helping brands create these programs and analyzing the data they generate. But each processor may approach it differently, or pitch you different benefits. Franchise Payments Network, for example, stresses how well it can train franchisees to implement the plans. “If you can get a customer to join a loyalty program, our data shows they’re going to spend 17 percent more on their average ticket,” Epstein says. At Worldpay, Taylor stresses data security: “How data flows through the system, what payments information is shared and how the consumer information is stored are extremely important.”