Having a pool of regular, paying customers is a huge boon in business but it’s by no means a guarantee of healthy cash flow – without question, the lifeblood of every organisation.
As the general manager of InstallEx – an installation and constructions services provider with national clientele – Jeremy Turner knows that optimal working capital is, to a large degree, reliant on the ability to process multiple customer payments in a timely manner.
“When there is a major exhibition or event, such as the Grand Prix, Australian Open or V8 Super Cars, our guys are on the ground erecting stands, laying carpet and, once it’s over, they pull it down and pack it up. They also install joinery into high rises, and complete store displays as well as shop fit-outs and kiosk installations. Meanwhile, The Inside Project division involves staff performing interior design as well as kitchen and bathroom renovations. To meet the needs of our national customer base, we have staff both in Melbourne, where we have our head office, and interstate.”
In early 2016, Jeremy was involved in a decision to vastly improve the way InstallEx processed payments. Until that point, the company had relied on a bank-issued EFTPOS terminal, kept at its head office. Aside from the ‘hefty’ bank fees, Jeremy revealed this approach was cumbersome: “Due to the nature of our business, it’s rare for customers to come into our head office to make a payment. They tend to either phone in a payment to our office or, more commonly, when our staff attend their site, make arrangements with them.”
“The problem was that our incumbent system didn’t allow staff to directly accept payment from a customer when they were on site. Instead, site staff had to jot down their credit card details and send it through to head office, where someone then had to stop what they were doing to push the payment through. If their workload was heavy, it would take a couple of days to process payment. Plus, whenever site staff had a job on the weekend, payment couldn’t be processed by head office until at least Monday. Not only was this laborious for all involved, due to delays in the payment process, we ran the risk of not immediately picking up when a credit card was maxed-out or when card details were incorrect and the cash flow issues that stem from that.”
InstallEx ditched its bank-issued EFTPOS terminal in April, last year, shortly after the Square Chip Card Reader launched in Australia. Developed by global payment technology company Square, InstallEx saw the mobile card payment reader – along with Square’s free Point of Sale (POS) app – as the means to empower site staff to process payments on the spot, thus freeing up head office. The company was also sold on Square’s simple pricing structure – 1.9% per card transaction (regardless of the card provider), no lock-in contract and a low price of $19 per reader.
“Not only have we added more dollars to our bottom line due to the lower fees, we’ve also equipped staff with technology that allows them to accept customer payments on their smartphones, wherever they go, without fuss either using the Square Reader and the POS app. Our employees find it easier to take payment now that they ever did with the traditional card terminal,” Jeremy said.
“Our customers have also benefitted because they don’t have to concern themselves with sending credit card details to us via, say, SMS or email. Square is both a lot more secure and a lot more transparent: our site staff take payment directly from the customer, who instantly receives a digital receipt, sent either to their email or mobile number.”
“Further, our office staff can log into Square Dashboard on their PC to analyse data on – and keep track of – transactions, including who is taking payment, how much they’re taking and how may transactions they are involved in. This feature basically allows us to track payments and, while we haven’t yet explored this option, it also allows businesses to analyse sales trends.”
Recently, InstallEx has begun delving deeper into Square’s ecosystem of tools. It is currently looking to introduce Square Invoices, which would enable staff to create, customise and issue invoices directly from the Square POS app or Dashboard and send to customers via email. Meanwhile, Jeremy said InstallEx has been using Square’s new Virtual Terminal to simplify the process of accepting keyed-in card payments for office staff.
“Virtual Terminal allows our office staff to accept payment directly from their PC using Square Dashboard, which is incredibly useful as they generally field sales-related calls on their smart phones. In the past, this made processing payments difficult because staff had to either write down a customer’s payment details and key it in later or put the customer on speaker phone so they could access the POS app on their phone and key in their details. With Virtual Terminal, they no longer need to do this – they just log into the Square Dashboard in their web browser and key in the customer’s details while they’re still on the phone. Plus, the per-transaction fee of 2.2% was very attractive to InstallEx.”
InstallEx is just one of many organisations benefitting from Square’s ecosystem of tools, which Square’s Australian Country Manager, Ben Pfisterer says is an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to streamline the payment process.
“Our platform grants small, micro and mobile businesses, including bricks-and-mortar and online retailers, with affordable access to the same technological capabilities that have been the privilege of large companies,” he said
“We recognise that businesses come in all shapes and sizes, which is why we offer a range of solutions.”
In addition to the tools used by InstallEx, Square also offers a Contactless + Chip Reader, which retails at $59, the ability to accept payment online for a flat fee of 2.2% with Square’s Ecommerce API, and the ability to track staff performance and manage employee access with the new Employee Management features. Plus, when customers receive a digital receipt from a Square merchant, they have the opportunity to provide real-time feedback about the transaction, which provides businesses with useful insights.
“Square’s tools are designed to take the burden out of processing payments, by providing businesses with a single platform for all their needs, so they can focus on finding and onboarding customers,” Pfisterer added.