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Will that be cash, check or charge?

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Before I go any further, I want you to take a moment to read the following scenarios.

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Scenario One: You’re having a book signing at a local venue. You’ve made sure that you’ve stopped by the bank to get plenty of change. You know you’re going to have lots of sales and don’t want to run the risk of running out of funds.

Your signing starts and you’re shining in your moment. Your books are selling like hotcakes at $15 a pop. Some of your readers have even purchased all five of your books—that’s $75 from just one buyer! You smile; you’re in your element. That is until the next customer tells you that she wants to buy two sets of your books as gifts for family and friends. You begin to sign the books, pack them in the cute little decorative bags you’ve bought, complete with complementary tissue paper, then the “potential” customer hands you her Visa credit card. You stop in your tracks. You have no way of accepting the credit card.

Scenario Two: You’re invited to a social networking event. You’ve been advised to bring plenty of business cards, and boy do you! You arrive, ready to mingle and make new contacts. As you’re chatting with a group new business owners, they reveal that because they are new, they need a few marketing tips and have no idea where to begin. One of them glances at your business card and notices that you’re an author and you provide business consulting. She asks about your books and you tell her about your marketing book. She wants to buy your book and pulls out her credit card. You look at her dumbfounded because you don’t take credit card payments.

If you’re an old-school author like me, something like this has likely happened to you. In scenario number one, this author lost, at the very least, a $150 sale. Just imagine how many other sales she missed.

In scenario number two, in addition to having business cards handy, it is also imperative that you have other business tools handy. In this type of setting, it is guaranteed that you’ll be asked what you do, and if you’re an author, you will be asked what type of books you write. I think you get the picture. It’s apparent that this author lost at least one sale during this event.
In both scenarios, the author could have told the buyers to visit their Websites or other online retailers, but there is no guarantee that they will actually remember or take the time to do that. Never miss out on a chance to make an immediate sale.

What do you do in situations like these? With the advancement of technology, smart phones, and apps, you don’t have to miss out on sales. You can use services to accept credit card payments on the spot. Whether you’re an author or entrepreneur, be ready to accept various forms of payments; however, accept checks at your own risk. I don’t see a problem with accepting checks from people you trust and know will make good on their funds, but I have had to send many customers to collection agencies, trying to recoup the bad check and return check fees charged by my bank. To be safe, I’d suggest cash or charge.

Many mobile credit card services are available. Let’s discuss three: PayPal Here, Square, and Intuit. I’ve used both PayPal Here and Square, but I’m looking to also utilize Intuit ,which happens to make my QuickBooks software.

PayPal Here—I love this service because it’s fast, easy to use, and it gives me cash back. You can start using this service by downloading the app from the Apple Store or the Android Market. You will request a card reader that will be sent to you for free. The small triangle-shaped device plugs into the microphone jack on your mobile device and can fit in any purse or pocket. Once you go through the set-up process online and ensure that you have a Wi-Fi connection, just swipe the credit card through the card reader and input the dollar amount, credit card security code, and billing zip code. It’s that easy. If you run into a problem, this service offers live customer support. PayPal Here accepts checks via the card reader and offers email invoices. Again, I’d be cautious about accepting checks from people you do not know or trust. Once you swipe and receive approval, funds are available, in your account, immediately. Transaction fees run about 2.75 percent; however, users who do not have the card reader can key in the information directly into the app on their iPhones, iPads, or Android devices. Transactions entered using this method will be charged a rate higher than 2.75 percent. Visit the company Website for further details.

Square—This service is similar to PayPal Here. Its app can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Android Market and comes with a mobile reader that works with your mobile device. There are a few differences. It does not provide live customer support. It does not support check payments, nor does it have email invoicing capability. In addition it does not offer cash back, and funds are not immediately available—they are not available until the next business day. This service offer services that PayPal Here doesn’t offer, like printed receipts, if you have a receipt printer. This service is a bit more complicated to set up than PayPal Here but allows one to use the mobile device as a full point-of-sale register. Visit the company Website for a complete list of services.

Intuit—Unlike the other two services, Intuit will access your credit report and charges a multitude of fees. They offer a pay-as-you-go option or a monthly fee. They offer the option to accept checks; however, they charge a fee. One of the positive features this service offers is syncing and reconciliations with Quickbooks software. Thoroughly read the company’s fees and policies to avoid surprise fees and charges.

As I’ve stated before, other services can be utilized. Do a little research before choosing your preferred service. It wouldn’t hurt to use a variation of these services. Once you decide, make sure you never leave home without it. Never miss an opportunity to make a sale.

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