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How to Use Pay Per Click Advertising to Grow Your Dry Cleaner

Is your dry cleaner business growing? If it’s not, it’s dying. That’s what experts say. It’s dying. Companies that grow, however, survive long-term. They also retain good employees, create new jobs, and enhance competitiveness. More importantly, they boost profitability and increase their chances of flourishing long-term.

But growing a dry-cleaning business is a challenge. There are no two ways about it. Dry cleaning is a dog eat dog industry. Print advertising in the local newspapers help, but it is expensive. You have to not only buy the space in the publication but also pay for the ad’s design. Direct mail also is costly.

Pay per click advertising (PPC), however, is a better way to boost growth. This proven approach to generating business promotes your business every bit as effectively as print advertising and direct mail, if not more effectively. Plus, it’s cheaper—a whole lot cheaper.

How Google PPC Works

These benefits are why more and more small business use PPC advertising. Research, for example, indicates that 45% of small business use this promotional approach, while 74% of companies with more than 50 employees also use PPC advertising.

Below we review the topic of how to use pay per click advertising to grow your dry cleaner business. The article covers the following:

  • Challenges to growing a dry cleaner
  • Basics of pay per click advertising
  • Benefits of this online advertising tactic
  • PPC strategies that work

Challenges to Growing Your Dry Cleaner

Dry-cleaner managers and owners face numerous challenges to growing their businesses. These challenges include:

  • Low-profit margins
  • Shortage of skilled labor
  • High employee turnover
  • Low customer retention
  • Intense local competition
  • High customer expectations
  • Logistics problems

These challenges are enough to drive you crazy. But failing to overcome them can keep you running in the red.

What is pay per click advertising?

So, what is PPC advertising and how does it benefit you? First, this article refers primarily to Google’s PPC online advertising model. (Bing also provides a pay-per-click platform. It shows ads on the Bing and Yahoo networks. Also keyword-based, this approach uses search partners.)

Simply put, PPC advertising lets you bid on keywords associated with your target audience’s interests. When customers use your keywords to search the Internet for a product or service, your ad pops up on the search engine results page (SERP). Typically, the higher your ranking on the page the better.

To get a higher on-page ranking, however, you need to bid more for the right keywords. The might sound costly, but Google only charges you when customers click on your ad. (That’s how the process got the name pay-per-click.) PPC is ideal for cost-conscious owners and managers.

Clicking on the ad takes customers to your website. If customers like the offer on your webpage, they buy your product or service. That’s called “converting.” It’s the Holy Grail of Internet marketing.

PPC advertising offers endless possibilities. It’s ideal for many dry-cleaners because it allows you to compete with larger competitors cost-effectively. That’s the biggest—and best benefit for dry-cleaners.

Additional PPC benefits for dry cleaners include:

  • Ease of creating/managing ads
  • Quick setup and campaign launch
  • Targeting of specific locations and demographics
  • Pinpoint target with keywords
  • Set and forget features for basic tasks

PPC advertising is proven and productive. And while it may need a keen eye for detail sometimes, it saves you time, money, and effort over traditional promotional approaches.

How to Use PPC to Grow Your Dry Cleaner

If you’re a dry cleaner owner or manager that’s extremely cost-conscious, pay per click advertising is a powerful tool to grow your dry cleaner. Below are seven PPC advertising best practices that can help you boost traffic to your website and grow your business:

  1. Use negative keywords — These keywords help you remove unqualified traffic. Someone looking for “free golf clubs,” for example isn’t looking to buy. Add the word “free” as a negative keyword and people searching for free stuff won’t show up in queries containing your keywords.
  2. Focus on audiences — Often used in remarketing, audiences contain users segmented in a particular way—page views, time spent on a page, on-site pages per visit, and so on. As with keywords, you bid on audiences based on relevance.
  3. Target your zip code — A two-pronged effort, this strategy targets your zip code. First, you set up a campaign with your keywords. Next, you set the location as your dry cleaner’s zip code. Then, you offer coupons with your ad, enticing customers near you to try you. This best practice is ideal for targeting people close to your business.
  4. Choose the right delivery method — You can use one of two delivery methods. Standard shows ads throughout the day. It works well if you have a limited budget and don’t want to show ads for every query. Accelerated shows ads until you deplete your budget. It works well if you have an unlimited budget and want to show ads for every query.
  5. Select the right ad delivery approach — Google provides two ad delivery choices—optimize and rotate indefinitely. Optimize delivers based on ads expected to generate higher click rates. Rotate delivers more evenly into the ad auction but aren’t optimized toward any goal, such as clicks or conversions.
  6. Retarget website visitors — This strategy requires you to set up your infrastructure to tag every one visiting your website. Then use Google to retarget them with display ads to further convince them to use your services. Retargeting can lead to massive sales growth.
  7. Split testing — Google lets you run experimental ads next to your other performing ads. You can then use the data generated by this strategy to decide to use the changes in the experimental ad or delete them. It’s a useful strategy when you want to test ad creatives with similar audiences.

These seven best practices are just some of the PPC strategies available to you to help you grow your dry-cleaning business. Dozens of others exist that can pay off for you. Plus, PPC isn’t that costly to try.

Hopefully, this glimpse into how to use pay per click advertising to grow your business resonates with you. It’s a cost-effective promotional approach to online marketing that can provide an excellent ROI. More importantly, it boosts growth, which will help you flourish long-term.

If you are interested in learning more about Pay Per Click Advertising, here are several articles to help you on your journey:

Pay Per Click Guide for Beginners

The Ultimate Guide to PPC Marketing

Payment Processing Rates and Fees: 5 Facts You Need to Know

Believe it or not, there are still dry cleaners that do not accept credit cards. Hard to believe?

The benefits of accepting credit cards typically far outweigh the costs.

But there are costs involved, and it’s a good idea to take the time to educate yourself about the merchant account rates and fees you are paying when you sign up for a payment processing account.

Make certain you understand how to read your merchant statements and flag anything that seems confusing or contradictory. Being well informed is important to ensure you understand what you’re paying and why.

Here are five facts you need to know when it comes to rates and fees:

“Free” isn’t necessarily free.

You are likely to encounter processors calling or visiting your dry cleaning business with offers from processors offering this or that for free in exchange for signing a merchant account agreement.

It might be a free terminal or credit card reader, or the processor might waive any setup fees or application fees.

While there is some great new account offers out there in the world, be wary about signing a merchant account agreement with any salesperson who literally walks into your business off the street. Unless they are associated with a large, reputable processor, you’ll probably experience little in the way of customer support once you’ve been on-boarded.

If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.

There are select processors out there who will charge you a flat rate on most or all of your transactions, or one flat rate for card-present transactions and a higher flat rate for card-not-present transactions (with a transaction charge commonly added to the latter).

Again use caution so you don’t pay dearly for the simplicity and ‘convenience’ of this pricing model.

For small businesses with very low processing volume, a flat rate pricing platform may be a worthwhile choice. But read the fine print or flat rate pricing may end up costing you more in the long run. If a processor promises a “low flat rate,” that seems too good to be true—it probably is.  Unless you are dealing with a trustworthy and established processor, a very low rate may be offered only an introductory (temporary) rate, or applies to a very narrow band of credit cards or transactions.

You could actually be paying a variety of other fees that more than make up for the shortfall on the rate. And when the low flat rate expires or isn’t in effect, you are probably going to be overpaying by a wide margin.

What you do (or don’t do) can translate into a potential fee.

Additional or unexpected fees can come into play with some processors if you do something incongruous (or fail to do something you’re expected to do).

For example, if a patient walks into medical practice and pays their co-pay with a credit card, and the front-office staff “keys-in” the card, that transaction can be charged at a higher rate (a card-not-present rate) than if the card is dipped or swiped. Or, if you have accepted cards on a particular day and fail to batch out at the end of that day, you could potentially pay higher fees on those transactions.

Be certain to review current best practices with your processor; then make sure you adhere to them religiously.

Discretionary or negotiable fees—should you pay them?

The fees for some credit card processing services are discretionary or optional, but you might very well find the services to be worth the cost, either in terms of overall cost savings, added peace of mind, or both.

For example, there is a fee for Address Verification Service (AVS), which is recommended when a credit card is not physically present. This service verifies that the address and zip code provided match the information on file with the card issuer, making it the first line of defense against fraud. Similarly, it may be worth it to pay a modest fee for the peace of mind that comes with data breach coverage.

Also, keep in mind that some fees might be negotiable. For instance, it’s common practice for payment processors to charge a cancellation or termination fee if you close your account before the date stipulated in your merchant account agreement. However, this fee may be negotiable, particularly if you have unresolved issues that your processor cannot or will not resolve.

Consult with your processor to understand their negotiable and discretionary fees.

The cheapest option is not always the best option.

Some processors may be able to offer slightly lower rates and fees because they don’t have the resources to provide service and support.

But what happens when you need help after hours or on a holiday—or on the busiest day of the year for your business?

Look for processors that have an 800 number that you can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Ideally, customer service agents should be U.S.-based, so there are no issues with a language barrier or challenges with representatives understanding the needs of the dry cleaning industry. And keep in mind the value a processor offers you. If you pay slightly more, but you get a processor who can help you with security issues and maintaining PCI compliance, it’s worth the cost.

Think first or pay later

To understand the fees you will be paying, research processors first and ask them to outline all the fees. Think about reaching out to business associations that you or your business belong to and find out if the processor you’re considering is an endorsed or recommended partner. This may entitle you to a ‘group discount’ that might otherwise be unavailable.

Conclusion

Understanding fees and rates may not be the most exciting part of the business, but when it comes to your bottom line, it may be the most cost-effective.

To find out more about TSYS, just reply to this email. We look forward to hearing from you!

Interested in learning more? Click here to learn more.

 

Note: This guest post was written and developed by Tsys, a payment processing partner of Dark POS

What to Look For in a Point-of-Sale System

Keys To Finding The Best Point-Of-Sale System For Your Business

If you’re familiar with the wide range of benefits that a point-of-sale system can provide, you’re probably ready to investigate POS further. You are about to discover that there are hundreds of options available, from hundreds of providers.

Even with reliable help just a few keystrokes away, it’s good to think through the key features and options that might be most important for your business, and your business goals.

You may run a food truck that’s growing in popularity around town. You may be opening your second car wash with further plans for expansion in the next year. You may have just decided it’s finally time to open your clothing boutique. All three businesses can operate more efficiently with a POS system, but specific solutions for each might look dramatically different.

As you investigate solutions for your business, it’s best to think through the following areas first:

Ease of Use

You will want to make sure that powerful POS features are matched with ease of use. The right balance will vary from business to business, but you will want to ensure that your employees will be comfortable with the system and able to use it correctly with minimal training. You also want to ensure your comfort level with back-office features and functionality.

Scalability

The expansion is on the mind of many small business owners. If you fall into that group, it is imperative to have a POS system that is ready to grow with you. Your business’ multiple locations can operate together through a connected system, meaning managers can communicate about inventory and you can oversee all of your stores from a centralized location. Even if you’re starting small with hopes of growing big, the right POS system will have the functionality to expand as you do.

Security

Cybersecurity has become a top priority in all industries. Your critical business information is at stake, as well as private information from your customers. Current POS systems feature the latest in encryption technology, maximizing the security of payments and business data.

Taxes

One of the smallest, yet most important details of your business is one that comes into play with every transaction you process – determining sales tax. A quality POS system is automatically equipped with the ability to calculate sales tax, something that can change without you knowing. And if you do operate at multiple locations, never fear – varying sales taxes can be accommodated and calculated into your transactions.

Industry-Specific Features

POS systems have been around long enough that their designers have been able to understand that certain industries require more detailed features than others. For instance, a restaurant will need a more intricate staffing system than a boutique, and better inventory management software, too. Specific systems have been designed for other industries, including bars, retail stores, auto services, salons, and many more.

Technical Support

Even the easiest systems to operate will experience technical issues from time to time. Installing your POS system is one thing, but making sure that you have a dependable team ready to assist you will keep your business operating smoothly in the long run.

Keeping these key areas in mind will be helpful as you work with a trusted reseller to design the right Point-Of-Sale system and deliver the right business intelligence to meet your needs.

Five Things to Consider When Opening a Business

Opening day can be exciting but also a daunting task for any business owner. Many new businesses spend months even years preparing for opening a business.

From permits to perfecting services or products, it can be easy to overlook certain details that could make or break your business.

Here are five factors to consider when opening your business and considering an appropriate point-of-sale system.

Processing Payments

A simple cash register and drawer might suffice for cash payments but what about credit cards? Regardless of your industry or the size of your business, today’s business model demands you accept multiple forms of payment.  Credit cards have become the universal language of money, and the inability to accept them could result in lost sales. Point-of-sale (POS) systems make it possible to not only accept credit cards at the register but cash and checks too, ensuring you have no limitations.

Managing Inventory

A POS system can help you better manage inventory in real time. With the ability to print your labels, you can scan in orders and garments. It’s also possible to take photos of the items to help keep track of orders and manage inventory. Garment tracking allows your business to follow each item throughout the process from start to completion.

Communicating with Customers

How customers can communicate with you is vital for any business. Rather it is phone, email, text, social media, or chat; it is important that customers feel they can get answers when they need it most. Modern POS systems have now integrated a variety of communication channels right inside the software. Use these tools to provide your customers with a great experience.

Sales Reporting

Regardless of the type of business that you operate, you will need to run sales reports so that you have insight into what is going on with your business. Sales reports are not only important for your benefit but also for preparing taxes and future business planning. In the past, business owners were often forced to handle business reporting by hand, which was not only time-consuming but also prone to errors. Today, sales reporting can be handled in a faster and more streamlined manner with a POS system. All it takes is the touch of a button to print relevant reports.

Access to your Business

Business owners typically spend more time at their business than anyone else. This is especially true when first starting a business. But, the reality is that you cannot be there at all times, particularly if you own multiple locations. With a Cloud POS system, however, you can view business operations from any location, at any time, and in real time. As a result, even if you need to be away from your business, you can still keep an eye on how things are going. This helps you to manage your business more effectively while also giving you increased peace of mind.

Conclusion

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 99.7% of all U.S. employer firms. Not all new businesses have immediate success, and that is where preparing ahead of time, researching how to process payments, manage inventory, customer communicate, reporting, and deal with management all come into play. Before opening a business, understand these factors can get your business started down the path of success.

 

Beginner’s Guide on How to Implement a New Dry Cleaner Software

Employees hate change. No two ways about it. The reason: Our brains are hard-wired to do the same thing over and over again and again—whether that activity is right for you or not. So, we resist change until we have no other option.

Change, however, is useful—especially if you’re running a dry-cleaning storefront. It can, for example, help you grow as a person. That’s never a bad thing. Below are some additional reasons why change is right for you:

  • Pushes you out of your comfort zone
  • Generates more experience
  • Tells you exactly who you are
  • Increases flexibility and adaptability
  • Opens you up to saying YES more often

We could add more reasons to why change is right for you. But we think you get the idea. In the case of running a dry-cleaning business, change is often useful because it can take your storefront to another level and boost profitability dramatically.

Despite these advantages, owners and managers of dry cleaners often hesitate to make changes to their dry cleaners point of sale (POS) software. Dry cleaners will often go 15 or 20 years using the same software without changing it.

If that sounds like you, don’t be discouraged. Many owners and managers do the same thing. Some will even wait until the software is no longer working before doing anything about it. That’s often counter-productive, especially when it comes to customer service.

When Changing POS Software Makes Sense

Changing POS software makes sense when it’s hurting the company. Using an older POS software solution, for example, can slow customer service and undermines customer experience. That, in turn, can hurt customer loyalty, hamper productivity and shrinking profitability.

But how do you know when it’s time to change Your POS solution? Ask the six questions below. The answers will tell you if it’s time for a change or not:

Is the software having technical problems?

Older software often creates challenging technical problems. If you’re spending time and money resolving these technical glitches, it’s time for a change.

Is there a compelling reason to do it?

If making a change provides a tangible benefit for the company, like boosting customer service or increasing productivity, a different direction is in order.

Are customers complaining?

The last thing you need is to have customers complaining. If the software solution is impacting customer service or customer experience significantly, you can’t afford to keep using the platform.

Are employees complaining about the platform?

Employees complain about things. That’s nothing new. But if employee complaints about the software solution are coming fast and furious, consider a change.

Is it providing a competitive advantage?

If the software isn’t differentiating you from your competitors, it’s no longer an asset. Find a solution that does.

Do you have the resources to do it?

The key to upgrading software solutions like a POS platform is having the staff, time, money, and focus on doing it. If you do and you’ve got the right answers to the other questions, then it’s time to make a change.

The last question is the most critical of all.

If you don’t have the resources to make a change, however, it’s probably not in your best interest.

But replacing your legacy solution with one that’s easy to install and use, like Enlite’s, can offset the lack of resources.

Choosing a POS Software Solution

More dry cleaners are replacing their POS software with one of today’s solutions. Installing a POS software platform, like Enlite’s, simplifies and streamlines operations. It also frees you and your employees to other more important activities, like helping customers and increasing profitability.

The key to enjoying these benefits, however, is picking a POS solution that fits your specific needs. That means you want a solution that’s customizable, cost-effective, and cloud-based, which eliminates the need for you to upgrading by yourself. The software company does that for you.

Here are six must-have features to look for in a POS software solution:

  • Powerful point of sale functionality
  • Robust billing/invoicing capabilities
  • Dynamic CRM features
  • Mobile mobile capabilities
  • Easy-to-use management functionality
  • Online routing and delivery capabilities

This list isn’t intended to be exhaustive. But it’s a good start.

Installing a new POS solution with these capabilities can take your business to the next level.

Migrating to a New Dry-Cleaning Software  

Purchasing a new software solution, however, is only half the battle.

The other half is implementing it. That activity can stress out you and your employees big time.

Below are ten additional tips that can help you implement a new software solution at your dry-cleaning storefront and reap the rewards new technology brings:

Express the Benefits of the New Software

One critical step in migrating to a new software platform is communicating the benefits of making the change.

If your employees aren’t clear on how the software benefits the company and themselves, they might not fully commit to the change.

Identify Early Adopters

Keep in mind also that adoption rates vary. Adoption depends on how open your employees are to new technology and a willingness to learn. If you can build momentum with any early adopters on staff, you’re chances of succeeding improve dramatically.

Name a champion

Similar to an early adopter, if you can find a champion on your staff, you can leverage his or her enthusiasm to build momentum for the change.

Champions need to know the software well and understand the learning needs of everyone.

Explain why you chose this solution

Make sure your staff knows why you chose this software and how it makes their jobs easier. Also, make sure your people know what the software is, how it works, and what it does.

Schedule training sessions

Use training events to train your staff on using the new software. You should also encourage dialogue, answer questions, and reinforce the solution’s benefits at these meetings.

Move critical content to the new software

This step increases adoption by moving important functions and contact to the new system. This will require employees to use your new tool to complete their responsibilities.

But be careful with this step. It could backfire on you and frustrate employees if you do make this move too soon.

Use rewards and gamification

The carrot and stick approach to teaching something doesn’t work for everybody—especially creative thinkers.

Rewards and gamification are other ways of encouraging behavior changes. A lot depends on your work culture and core philosophy.

Involve your IT person

If you have an IT person, get them involved in the adoption process. He or she can help you make sure your new software doesn’t have any security holes that could cause trouble.

Investigate the challenges

Find out what problems exist in every area of the business impacted by the software’s introduction. Are your employees getting everything they need from the solution? You can then make adjustments based on these needs.

Communicate with transparency

If employees think they’re being kept in the dark, they may resist the change. To maximize buy-in, try to make employees feel like they’re involved in the process. If you don’t, they may resist using the solution.

Develop an engagement strategy

Creating an engagement strategy after you’ve installed the software encourages adoption. Also, appoint a “super user” in each department. They can serve as “go to” people for questions or concerns.

Monitor performance

You could have some “teething” issues as your staff migrates to a new way or working. Expect them and allow for them. Monitor how your team is using the software and the performance of the solution.

Conclusion

These tips will make migrating to a new POS solution easier and faster. Having migrated, you may want to revisit the entire existing business process if you’re adding a POS solution. You may see other opportunities to simplify and streamline the process, boosting customer service and customer experience.

Change is hard. But it’s a fact of life—, especially with dry cleaning businesses. So, if your old POS software solution is failing, it’s time for a change. But do your homework to find the right POS solution for your business—one that’s easy to use, customizable, and cloud-based.

In addition, you want an easy to use POS solution that includes the key features mentioned above and provides a good ROI. Then use the tips above to migrate to the software successfully. A new POS solution can help boost productivity and profitability, and take your business to the next level.

Dry Cleaner’s Practical Guide to Managing Multiple Locations

Thinking of opening another dry cleaning location?

Or, you’ve opened a second location and things are getting crazy?

Whatever the case, don’t be discouraged.

The fact that you’re so busy is a positive sign. It means your storefronts are thriving.

But managing several locations can be overwhelming. It’s a critical challenge you’ll face when growing your business and decide to expand.

But with more than one location, you can quickly lose control of your locations and run your locations into the ground.

Below we discuss seven tips on how to manage multiple dry-cleaning locations successfully.

These tips will help you get your house in order and regain control of your business.

But first, we’ll review six challenges you’ll face as a manager of multiple locations—challenges that can make it hard to run your site’s profitability.

Challenges of Managing Multiple Location Dry Cleaner

The secret to managing multiple locations is to establish clear responsibilities, boundaries, and authority at each location. That can be hard to do if you fail to overcome the five challenges described below:

1. Failing to give employees time

With so much going on, it’s easy to fail to give employees at each location the time they really need to learn and grow as workers. Out of sight out of mind is not good for your business.

2. No spontaneous communication

Having more than one storefront means there’s less chance you’ll run into employees and have natural, unplanned communication with members of your staff.

3. Weakened logistics

Logistics can be a problem when you have more than one location—especially if the locations are widespread. What you can’t send over the Internet, you’ll have to mail, causing delays and additional effort.

4. Us-versus-them mentality

Lack of cohesiveness can pit one storefront against another storefront—especially if some team members don’t know each other well.

5. Concerns with general supervision

It can be hard with multiple locations to track everything your staff is doing. Are they arriving on time, working appropriate hours, or dressing appropriately?

Overcoming these challenges is the key to building a sound organizational structure —one where all employees thrive, everyone is accountable for this or her work, and you can measure employee performance accurately.

Managing Multiple Locations Effectively

You need to focus on three areas to manage multiple locations effectively—systems, technology, and communications. Doing that generates team cohesion and a team attitude. Both are necessary for your dry-cleaning business to thrive.

Below are seven tips on how you can create cohesion and a team attitude among staff at different locations:

1. Standardize operations

Organizing and standardizing operating systems is critical. From responding to angry customers to handling employee breaks, you want everyone to know what you expect and how they can meet them. The best way to do that is by standardizing operations.

2. Hire/promote talented managers

Good employees can be hard to find. So, when you find one, you need to do everything you can to keep them. You also want to promote them if they have the right capabilities. The know your system and can help others learn it. Hopefully, you’ll have a strong bench full of competent, trustworthy employees, and managers.

3. Establish ways of communicating

Communicating with employees is paramount. Visit each store at least once during the week. Spend enough time at each location and talk with employees. Also, make yourself available to staff by email, chat, or phone. And hold meetings every two weeks or so, and get regular reports on how each location is doing.

4. Make communications a priority

Once you’ve created standard ways of communicating, use them. Experts say you need to spend between 15 and 17 hours repeating and clarifying communications with your team. Set up group email or chat eliminates redundancy or even an internal website. Then have employees check it consistently.

5. Create camaraderie between team members

It’s not easy maintaining a cohesive brand once you start growing. But it’s important to do so or at least try. Your employees are a critical part of your brand. So, work on building camaraderie. Bring staff together regularly for meetings. Have off-site outings for fun. Pit store versus store in competitions. These things can motivate staff and create team spirit.

6. Simplify operations with technology

Use technology as much as possible to streamline and simplify processes. Enlite’s software solution integrates with standard accounting software packages and typical payment processors. It also enables you to see activities at all your stores from one computer screen. Technology can help boost productivity dramatically.

7. Hold quarterly training sessions

Have quarterly training sessions to make sure everyone is on the same page. These sessions can also eliminate the feeling by an employee that he or she is getting left behind.

Employees also can ask questions at these meetings. You can even use them to hand out awards at these meetings and thank your employees for a job well done. That can help you boost worker motivation.

Conclusion

Use the seven tips to create efficient business processes, motivate employees, and simplify and streamline activities, saving time and money.

Managing multiple locations can be overwhelming. That’s especially true if you’re new to managing people. But by focusing on three critical areas of your business—systems, technology,  and communications—you can regain control of your locations and build a thriving business.

What Are Your Merchant Account Rates?

Our dry cleaning software customers ask about merchant account rates all the time.

Questions like;

What is a good rate?

Do you know how much I should be paying?

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as just posting rates for merchant accounts on a website. The answer is a bit more complex than you may expect.

In this article, we will prepare you to get the best merchant account rates for your dry cleaning business.

Shopping only by rate can be a mistake

For many merchants, the merchant account rates can amount to only a small portion of their overall cost.

If you only consider merchant account rates, you are excluding a long list of potentially costly factors such as:

  • credit card equipment
  • start‐up or termination fees
  • annual fees
  • contracts
  • monthly minimums
  • statement fees
  • and many other expensive pitfalls.

Contrary to what some companies would like you to think when they boldly advertise seemingly low rates, there is no “standard” rate for merchant accounts for pricing comparison.

Visa® and MasterCard® each have hundreds of different merchant account rate categories based on the type of card, the environment in which the card is accepted, and whether all the cardholder information collected properly and accurately.

These categories are then consolidated by each processor into groupings with averaged rates called:

  • qualified
  • mid‐qualified
  • non‐qualified

The less “qualified” the transaction, the more you are charged.

Be prepared to ask the right questions

So, when you are evaluating processors remember to avoid them, “What are your rates?” question.

Instead, try to focus on the overall expected cost of processing and factor in all potential fees.

If a company guarantees the lowest rates, ask to see it in writing.

If they have the guarantee in writing, you will quickly realize that these low merchant account rates only apply to a very small fraction of your credit card transactions.

What will the process be when you are ready to start accepting payments?

The first step is to set up a merchant account.

A merchant account is a special bank account that enables you to accept credit cards.

As a Dark POS customer, you can set up a merchant account with TSYS and link it directly to your existing POS software solution.

Once you have decided to set up a merchant account, you will need to reach out to whatever processor you chose.

They will likely ask you for some information that will help move your business through the underwriting process. The time and complexity will vary depending on your business and your processor.

In general, though, you may be asked for things like:

  • Social Security number
  • Employer Identification Number
  • Business license
  • Other things that will help the payment processor learn more about your business.

If you have additional questions about merchant processing, please reach out to our payment partner TSYS.

How to Go Paperless with your Dry Cleaning Business

Have you thought about going paperless?

If you have, join the crowd.

Many dry cleaner owners and managers have done the same thing. But they haven’t followed through on it.

If that sounds like you, you’re missing a golden opportunity to generate a competitive advantage and take your business to the next level. All you have to do is install a POS software solution.

Benefits of a Paperless Business:

Businesses converting to paperless can reap the rewards.

Going paperless generates numerous benefits for today’s companies—not the least of which is boosting profitability.

These benefits include:

  • Cutting operations costs
  • Reducing office clutter
  • Getting customer payments faster
  • Decreasing the influx of mail
  • Having instant access to data at your fingertips
  • Transferring knowledge among employees

Interested in learning more about paperless benefits? Read this article by Mike Kappel on Forbes.com

What’s more, going paperless pumps up customer service—the lifeblood of dry-cleaning businesses. That builds customer loyalty and engages word-of-mouth advertising. According to Neilson, 92 percent of consumers believe friends and family over other forms of advertising.

Many businesses owners and managers refuse to go paperless because it changes things.

That’s only human.

How do you handle change?

People hate change—even if it’s a game changer.

They also dislike many of the other demands it puts on business, like re-training counter people and administrators.

Create a Change Management Plan First

The first step in going paperless is to create a change management plan.

Taking this first step can make all difference. Here’s what implementing a change management plan can do for you in your when going paperless:

  • Align existing resources and capabilities
  • Help address employees’ concerns
  • Reduce risk and inefficiency
    Increasing team motivation
  • Enhance your team’s morale
  • Cut training and re-training costs
  • Boosting growth an innovation for the future

Put simply, creating a change management plan simplifies and streamlines the effort to go paperless.

Plus, it increases the chances you’ll see a healthy return on investment. That’s never a bad thing.

The Easiest Way for Going Paperless
The simplest and easiest way of going paperless is by installing a point of sale (POS) software solution, like Enlite POS.

It’s also the most cost-effective way.

Installing a POS solution not only streamlines the transition but also helps you better manage your paperless business. Those things can make a dramatic impact on your business.

But with so many moving parts in your dry-cleaning business, you may not see all the advantages going paperless provides with a POS solution.

3 Going Paperless Benefits

Below we outline four opportunities in your dry-cleaning operations where businesses going paperless can reap big rewards:

Paperless Billing

Billing is a critical function where going paperless help.

But many dry cleaners set themselves up for failure with this business process. They still use handwritten tickets and manually send out invoices to billing customers.

Handwriting tickets work, but it has its downsides—not the least of which is encouraging mistakes, especially when things get busy. Several downsides of using handwritten tickets include:

  • Got lost or thrown away
  • Mixed-up with wrong orders
  • Clutter up the office
  • Slows down operations
  • Can create discrepancies in billing

But the biggest downside to handwritten bills is accountability.

Using handwritten bills prevents you from tracking what’s happening with the process. So, there’s no accountability with this process.

What about holding employees accountable?
Employees may be under-charging or overcharging customers or siphoning money from the till and you’d never know it.

A POS will give you insight into all of your employee’s actions as it relates to billing.

Are you losing money because of inaccurate tickets?
If your employees do not detail invoices properly, you can be losing money or over-charging customers.

If you are using Enlite, from one screen (no bouncing around) you can:

  • Accurately detail invoices
  • Easily change pricing and items
  • Quickly apply upcharges or discounts
  • Categorize your services for exact reporting
  • Manage different pricing levels based on the customer
  • Take pictures of damaged or stained garments
  • Access your entire price list (no matter how big) without scrolling

By utilizing a POS for creating tickets, you can minimize and even eliminate inaccurate billing before you are negatively affected.

What’s more, your customers are getting non-itemized bills. Lack of transparency here can hurt customer service.

What about the time lost for billing customers each?

Calculate how much time is lost billing your customers. You have to organize all the customer’s invoices. Verify the billed amount is correct. Then you have to print a statement and either hand it to the client in person or send it in the mail.

If you have 5 customers, billing might take you 20 minutes. But what happens when you have 50, 100, or even 300 customers you need to bill each month?

Moving from a paper-based system to a POS solution provides paperless billing eliminates these downsides.

Having more control over billing allows customers to know what they’re getting billed for, and you’re gaining more control over this critical business process.

A POS solution lets you:

  • View customer balances
  • Track payments
  • Track employee actions
  • Generate itemized statements—all at a push of a button

More importantly, paperless billing:

  • Cuts Costs
  • Saves you time
  • Boosts customer service
  • Increases on-time payments

Tagging Garments

Tagging garments, like billing, is a critical business process—one you can’t afford to ruin.

The tag you place on your garments is the only link you have to that customer.

What is the impact of a lost garment?

  • Lost revenue and time
  • Poor customer experience
  • Negative impact on your business reputation

Processing garments manually using a paper-based system is costly, inefficient, and labor-intensive. It’s also error-prone.

Unless you have the right tools

Converting to paperless eliminates many of these disadvantages. Using a POS solution to tag garments can help you automate your tagging system using heat-sealed tags (multi-use) to track orders.

This process adds barcodes directly to a customer’s garments.

Going paperless with tagging:

  • Increases productivity
  • Boosts customer service
  • Reduces mistakes
  • Reduces lost garments

One caveat, though: A few customers may dislike having barcodes applied directly to their clothes.

So, check with your customers before doing it.

What other options are there?

Two other options are using preprinted barcodes rolls (single use) or a tag printer (single use) to identify garments.

If you have not gone paperless, it is most likely that you are using preprinted barcodes.

A sophisticated POS can help you manage all three options.

Tracking orders

Tracking orders is a third critical business process, like billing and tagging.

Some dry cleaners still use a paper-based system (like a notebook) to track orders.

Like many paper-based systems, this approach is error-prone, inefficient, and froth with danger.

What happens if you lose the notebook or it gets thrown away?

If you want to take your business to the next level, you’ll need to start tracking your orders in a different way.

A proper POS solution, let’s you track orders from when you receive the garments till they are ready to be picked up.

Do you have a process you need to track?

Using a proprietary feature in Enlite, you can model a custom process, create your own statuses and scan garments or invoices as they move through it.

With each scan, know exactly where the garment is, who scanned it and at what time throughout your custom workflow.

Excellent for tracking garments between drop stores and plants, tracking presser productivity, defining automatic statuses from your conveyor process.

Tracking orders electronically eliminate the downsides associated with manual tracking and provide numerous benefits, including:

  • Speeding garment intake
  • Eliminating tagging errors
  • Boosting worker productivity
  • Cutting assembly time
  • Increasing employee efficiency
  • Streamlining operations significantly
  • Facilitating employee training time

What’s not to like?

Conclusion

Businesses are going paperless in these four critical areas—billing, tagging, and garment tracking—can increase productivity, boost profitability, and create operational efficiencies that can dramatically impact your business. It can also help you boost customers service and customer loyalty. Together, these benefits can help you take your business to the next level.

So, if you’ve been thinking about going paperless and have put it off, again and again, it’s time you did something about it. You can go paperless quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively with a change management plan and Enlite’s POS software solution.

Remember, If you’re not going paperless, your competitors probably are.

Simplify the way you accept and manage credit cards payments

Have you heard? Dark POS has partnered with CardConnect to provide our customers with a fully integrated payment solution that will allow you to streamline the way you do business. This new offering brings simple, secure, and affordable processing so that you can run your business more efficiently and ensure a seamless payment experience for your customers.

By integrating CardConnect’s innovative payment technology with Enlite software, clients will benefit from a single source solution. Single payment entry means easy transaction management and reconciliation, simplifying your day-to-day business management. Even better, this solution includes all payment channels so you can process transactions anytime, anywhere. Keep reading to learn more about the many benefits of this solution!

Features to love

Seamless Customer Experience

Easily manage your business and securely accept payments, all within one platform. With CardConnect, you can easily accept transactions that can be easily reconciled inside your Enlite software, making this the perfect solution to streamline the way you do business.

Best-in-Class Security

Protect your business and customers with CardConnect’s payment security technology. Powerful features like point-to-point encryption (P2PE) and tokenization secure sensitive cardholder data for the ultimate data breach protection. Even better, these features will allow you to reduce the time and costs associated with maintaining PCI compliance.

Transaction Management + Reporting

CardConnect’s powerful CardPointe platform serves as a one-stop shop for managing your credit card transactions, drilling into transaction details, performing actions like voids and refunds, and pulling real-time reports. It’s even accessible from both a desktop app and mobile app, so transactions can be managed from anywhere. Have multiple locations? You can easily manage all of them from one login!

Accept All Payment Types

You can accept all of the major payment methods with this solution. Whether you want to accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Debit, ACH, EBT, gift cards, or even NFC (Apple Pay), we have you covered.

Interchange Optimization

An interchange rate is the base fee that credit card companies charge per transaction. CardConnect aggressively manages interchange rates and have built their technology to automatically include Level 2 and Level 3 data with a transaction, all so that you qualify for the lowest rate possible every time.

Get started today!

Dark POS is excited to offer unparalleled payment technology through our partnership with CardConnect. Together, we will help you continue to grow your business. To get started, visit here.

How to use a Garment Tracking System to Save on Assembly Time

Providing superior customer service generates repeat business. But losing a customer’s clothes is hardly great customer service. It’s just about the worst service you can give a customer. Lose his or her clothing even once, and you’ll probably lose the customer for good. But investing in a POS software solution with garment tracking system can help you cut down on lost clothing dramatically. When combined with an efficient garment tagging system, this combination also cuts assembly times and eliminates human error.

More importantly, this approach boosts customer service. It also boosts productivity, efficiency, and profitability. If the POS solution includes the right marketing tools, it can even help you increase customer engagement.

 

Tracking Garments: The Challenge.

Tracking garments are among a dry cleaner’s biggest challenges. Garments go through many hands and processes while in your care. When tracked manually, it’s easy for you or your staff to lose track of them or mislabel them.

The problem with manual tracking is it’s haphazard. It also lacks order and accountability. So, it’s easy for you or your employees to confuse things or make mistakes.  That’s bad news for you—especially if you charge customers a processing fee.

Paying for lost (or damaged) clothing far exceeds any processing fees you may charge customers. Plus, you’ll also have to deal with an angry customer. With the price of clothes on the rise, losing clothes is the last thing you want to do.

 

Eliminating Tracking Issues

But you can eliminate tracking issues with the right tools. Using a POS software solution with garment tracking system provides a systematic approach to tracking. With the right system, pinpoint tracking continues right up until you return garments customers.

Plus, you can determine a garment’s status on-demand. You can find out exactly where a piece of clothing is at a moment’s notice just by clicking on a key. You can even tell where the garment is physical.

 

Tracking Garments with a POS Solution

Tracking garments with a POS software solution are easy and straightforward. Below is the general process many dry cleaners go through to identify and track garments with a POS solution:

  1. Garment tagging — When the customer drops off clothing, you or an employee generate a barcoded tag that’s fixed to the garment. The tag includes a unique barcode number plus vital information like:
  • Key customer details
  • Delivery date and time
  • Unique order sequence number
  • Customer remarks
  • Cleaning details
  • Garment description

The tag also includes any special instructions for staff to address while processing the garment.

  1. Order processing — Using the clothing’s barcoding, you or your staff update the garment’s status through order’s processing. You or your staff also generate a delivery note that includes the garments current lot and its delivery date and time. Then, you send the clothing to the workshop for processing.
  2. Garment verification — Having received the garment at the workshop, its manager verifies the count, condition, and garment’s acceptance in the lot. He or she then update the system using the barcode.
  3. Collection center — After the manager or staff member verifies the garment’s processing details, he or she forwards for cleaning. After cleaning, the manager sends the clothing back to the collection center. Staff at the collection center update the garment’s status using the barcode once again.
  4. Pickup/Delivery — The garment is now ready to be picked up by or delivered to the customer. Before giving the garment to the customer, a staff member or the delivery driver scans the bar code one last time. That helps verify that the clothing you’re delivering is going to the right person. If there’s a problem, the barcode system activates a warning signal and rejects the order

As you can see, the clothing is tracked carefully and systematically while in your care. That almost guarantees customers get the right garment back.

 

Innovations in Garment Tracking

The latest innovation in garment tracking is the LED-Assisted Rapid Assembly (LARA) system. It’s ideal for busy dry-cleaning assembly operations. The term “assembly” refers to the identifying, tagging, ordering, and returning of garments.

When combined with a full-featured POS system, LARA minimizes human error, cuts assembly time significantly, and boosts productivity and efficiency. That, in turn, helps increases profitability by delivering exceptional customer service

LARA uses hangers with centrally-located, LED-colored lights. These lights, which indicate where you need to place the garments for processing, stay visible even when the hook holds clothing. The lights also tell you when an order is complete.

The hangers used in this process are made from lightweight, durable material and can withstand years of use. They’re also flexible, so you can adapt them to nearly any space or hold almost any type of garment.

 

Easy to Understand and Implement

LARA is easy to understand and implement. That makes it quicker and easier to train staff on how to use the system correctly and makes for a faster transition from manual operation. That also makes it faster and easier to bring new hires up to speed on the system when the first join, saving you time and money.

Today’s customers expect excellent customer service every time they visit you. And they won’t accept anything less. If you don’t provide it, they won’t hesitate to bolt. Losing a customer’s clothing is hardly the way to deliver epic customer service or deliver exceptional customer experiences.

But investing in a POS software solution with garment tracking takes customer service to the next level. Add in the right marketing tools and a mobile app for scheduling and managing deliveries, and you’ll have everything you need to create an exceptional customer experience—all while cutting costs and boosting profitability.