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Keep It Simple Stupid! Easy Credit Card Acceptance for Food Trucks

The debate rages every day over credit card processing fees. Beginners want information on which is the “best” processor, when what they really mean is “cheapest”. Someone who has something to sell always replies “check my page” or “DM me and I’ll help you”. Then my favorite answer always pops up: “charge them a fee, that’s what I do”. Comments will also be flooded with “Square” and “Clover” followed by complaints from opponents of each company.

EVERY, and I mean every company, has complaints about the way they operate. Customer Service, Late/Slow Deposits, Hidden Fees, Frozen Accounts, Intermediaries, Different Rates, Equipment Fees, Ongoing Charges, etc., etc. Square has them, Clover has them, just like every other company. Asking my opinion or someone else on a public forum like Facebook groups will only get a limited response based on extremely limited experience. I’ve been with this company since 1977 and have been taking credit cards since 1990. I started with Square in 2010 and with all that time in the restaurant business I’ve only used a total of 5 different processors. Each with their own problems and advantages.

You should also understand that there are two different types of processors. Square (PayPal Here, Intuit ToGo, etc.) are flat-rate aggregators. This means that the charges are exactly the same regardless of the card used and no merchant account is required. This makes the starting threshold much simpler for the average food vendor. Clover (and a ton of other services) are merchant account processors. This means they need a merchant account (which some people won’t qualify for) and they may charge varying fees depending on card type and brand. Comparing the two types of accounts is unfair as they have completely different benefits and application requirements.

To fully understand each processor type and unbiased reviews, head over to the Merchant Maverick website and check out their reviews. Choose the processor that meets your financial needs and offers rates and fees your business can afford. Also understand what you need from the hardware they offer. Do you need a simple point of sale or a point of sale with many functions for inventory control, payroll, loyalty programs, etc. or do you just need to process credit cards?

Here’s what you need to know about accepting credit and debit cards. Keeping it simple for street vending.

  1. Accepting cards is a MUST DO for street vending. Over 80% of ALL payroll is deposited directly. Mobile food vendors need to be convenient not only in terms of location, but also in terms of payment options.

  2. 80% of consumers prefer to use debit/credit cards when shopping. On the other hand, only 14% prefer cash. Do not accept business hunting cards.

  3. Processing fees are part of business just like buying inventory, paying staff, buying gasoline, obtaining permits and licenses and all other expenses of your business.

As a business owner, you have 4 choices:

  1. Do not take cards. (Risk of chasing business)

  2. Pass the fees on to your guests as a “convenience fee”. (Appear cheap and small time)

  3. Offer a “cash discount program”. (Looks like a gas station)

  4. Do the math when setting menu prices. (Look like a professional businessman)

Let’s look at each of the choices in detail.

Do not take cards. I hope from the stats in numbers 1 and 2 above you understand that taking cards is a necessary evil in street and event selling. In my 40 years of experience (through observation and real-time studies), credit card transactions are significantly faster than counting change. Yes, there may be internet issues, connection issues, etc. that pop up from time to time. Money has its own set of problems like breaking a hundred dollar bill early in the day, using a counterfeit pen to check bills, opening new rolls of coins, having to get more or five, lots of cash makes your business easy. flight target. Already convinced to take cards? Since taking cards is a MUST DO for a food vendor, let’s find the best way to handle those pesky fees.

Pass the fees on to your guests as a “convenience fee”. Sounds smart, right? Not really. Charging a fee appears insignificant and cheap from the perspective of customers and is illegal in 10 states. Where fees are legal, they are capped at 4% since the merchant CANNOT PROFIT from charging fees. The “convenience fee” becomes too complicated when a debit card is presented rather than a credit card. Convenience fees are also frowned upon by credit card issuers and each has a specific policy AGAINST these fees in most circumstances. Setting a minimum purchase also complicates matters. Debit cards have different rules than credit cards. It is also against the rules of credit card issuers to set minimum fees for debit cards. OK, OK, no extra charges, what should a seller consider?

Offer a discount program (CDP). This type of program is permitted and in fact set out in card issuer policies. A discount policy means that a supplier must quote TWO different prices for each product. Just like a gas station that offers cash back. The pump will show a price marked “Credit” and a price marked “Cash”. Of course, the price of credit is higher considering the processing fees. There are a number of companies that offer CDP processing, all of which promise “free” (for you) processing. The key to a legal CDP is to have a menu that clearly states both a cash price and a credit price along with other notices that explain and/or alert your guests to the two-tier pricing system . The problem with this system is customer confusion and overly complicated pricing structures. The street or event sale is very limited in time. The faster you take and fulfill orders, the more money you will earn. But with CDP, the order-taking process is slowed down by lengthy explanations for a two-tier pricing system. As well as complaints about having to pay more because the customer has no cash available. In foodservice, every obstacle you place in a smooth order-taking process is amplified by a negative review, bad word of mouth, or lack of repeat customers when another service or food-related issue occurs.

The simplest is:

Do the math when setting menu prices. Wow what a concept! Just like pricing your menu to account for the price of food and propane, just price your menu assuming EVERYONE will be using a card. What?! Can it really be that simple? Yes, yes it can.

Let’s look at a product that freaked everyone out when Square raised the fee to 10¢ + 2.6%. A soda.

Canned soda is available at Sam’s Club for 32.05¢ each. Most people sell it for a dollar. When Square raised its price, people panicked, complaining about the increase on a percentage basis for the cheapest product they sell, a soda. This makes selling a soda alone cost 44.65¢ when a card is used. I can’t tell how many posts complained 13% fee, blah, blah, blah. Yet, if the soda company raised the price to 45¢, the seller would either absorb the increase or raise their own prices.

When I set the price of a menu, I assume everyone will use a card. When Square added that 10¢ transaction fee, I just added 25¢ to some of my more expensive food items to compensate. So that one dollar soda became a $1.25 soda. Always cheaper than a convenience store and much cheaper than a vending machine.

Gross profit (which is sales minus cost of goods) would look like this:

Before: $1.00 – $0.3205 – $0.0275 = $0.6520 gross profit

After: $1.25 – $0.3205 – $0.10 – $0.0260 = profit of $0.8035

Watch what happens when someone pays cash.

Cash: $1.25 – $0.3205 = $0.9295

Does it make sense to use a cash discount program? Does it make sense to add a supplement (which is legally limited to 4% and you cannot profit from this supplement)? Does it make financial sense to simply refuse to accept cards?

If you are confused, the answers are “NO”, “NO” and “NO”.

I can hear someone say, “I don’t deal with change, it slows me down.” Food service is a nickel and dime business. Billing even dollars came out around the turn of the century. The only people charging on the same dollar are hobbyists or mathematicians. Maybe it’s time to get out the elementary school addition and subtraction flash cards and learn how to run our nickel and dime business. Practice makes perfect and the more you practice the faster you will get.

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