Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing for Salons in 2021

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new ways to grow your business and are probably considering the benefits and potential risks of credit card processing for salons.

In the age of online booking and cloud based payments, accepting credit cards has become a necessity. Both small businesses and large merchants have benefited from advances in payment methods, and credit and debit have become increasingly popular.

In fact, credit card processing can actually boost your sales. Let’s take a look at some strategies to help you make the most out of credit card payment processing, as well as some ways to keep your costs low and your clients happy.

 

What You Will Learn

We’ll take a look at some of the advantages of credit card payment processing, how to accept credit cards at your hair salon, and some helpful strategies to manage the salon checkout process.

 

Jump to The Section You Like

  1. Benefits of Accepting Card Payments in a Salon
  2. Disadvantages of Card Payments: Processing Fees
  3. How to Accept Card Payments?
  4. How to Accept Tips with Card Payments?
  5. Conclusion

Benefits of Accepting Card Payments in a Salon

 

Hair salons that receive payment by credit have a lot of advantages over those that only let customers use cash. In an age where time is money, business owners are always on the hunt for solutions to help save their staff and customers both.

Although the merchant will usually pay a small service fee per transaction (this can depend on the service provider and your business type- some have special accounts for small businesses), this payment is often more than made up for by the increase in clients and the benefits for staff.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest advantages for using hair salon credit card processing systems:

  • Attract customers who prefer cards: Either because they get benefits from their own credit companies, or because they simply prefer not to carry cash, these clients will seek you out.

  • Convenience for existing customers: Offer another easy and convenient option for loyal customers to use during their appointment. They’ll appreciate the great service.

  • Safety on site: Minimize risk to salon staff and your business by processing less cash payments and keeping less in the till.

  • Faster payments: Free up your stylists and receptionists more quickly with faster payment solutions. No more counting coins at the till.

  • Less counting mistakes: POS (point of sale) systems and credit transactions take a lot of the “human error” out of payment processing. Even small mistakes can add up over time and cost small business owners a lot.

  • People tend to spend more with cards: Because they’re not handling cash during payment, customers tend to feel a bit more free to spend on services and make spontaneous purchases. This makes it much easier to sell products and upsell services.

  • Better customer tracking: Combined with salon software and a POS system, credit cards or debit payment processing makes it easy to see what services clients prefer, what is selling well and who your repeat monthly customers are.

  • Covid-19 friendly: Hair salons that offer credit processing for each transaction make it easier for clients to pay without handling money, minimizing the risk to everyone. A modern card and point of sale system are usually able to support contactless payments, too.

  • Better inventory management: With salon software and a POS system, you can track clients’ purchases, products used for services, and keep an eye on inventory and reordering. Combined with systems that manage credit transactions, this makes the whole process more seamless and takes the guesswork out of running your business.

 
Benefits of accepting card payments in a salon
Benefits of accepting card payments in a salon

Disadvantages of Card Payments: Processing Fees

 

When setting up a merchant account for your hair salon business, you’ll need to consider a couple of things.

First of all, you’ll want to make sure that the company you choose (and the machines it provides) are PCI compliant - these standards protect customers’ data and security during the payment process.

Secondly, make sure that you consider the fees involved. Merchant services usually charge a business three different kinds of fees: monthly, transactional and incidental fees. These will vary depending on the company and your business merchant account, so make sure to do your research.

Here’s a quick breakdown to the types of processing fees you can expect to encounter:

 

Monthly Payment Fees

These are the fees that companies providing merchant services charge a business, regardless of the number of transactions. It’s usually a flat rate for the merchant and can be as much as $99/ month.

Some companies don’t charge a monthly fee, but their fee per transaction may be higher overall if their monthly services are free, so make sure that you take a look at the numbers on each company’s website and your own sales volume to see what the best services for your salon are.

 

Transactional Fees

This is a fee that the merchant pays during each service transaction. It’s charged separately from the monthly payment. This cost can be broken down into the following charges:

  • Card Issuer: This is the amount that you pay to the financial company itself for accepting the payment to the merchant. It can vary from about 1.5% to 3.3%.

  • Your Bank: This is the service fee that your own bank will charge for processing the transaction and depositing the funds into your account.

  • Credit Card Network: Also called an assessment fee, the salon merchant will pay this to the credit network. This is rarely free, but will be a lot smaller than what you pay the credit issuer, and can vary a lot, depending on your business/ industry.

  • Payment Processing Provider: This cost is paid to the company that accepts the payment and sends the transaction information through the network, using credit reading systems or online software. It is either a flat rate per month, or a cost per transaction.

These charges may vary greatly, but most payment processing providers do offer flat-rate fees as a percentage of the payment pricing, plus a fixed amount, for example, 2.5% + 10¢.

Finally, don’t forget any charges you’ll pay for the actual equipment, such as a reader for clients’ cards, mobile payment processor or POS systems.

Be sure to find out what’s included with your account, such as customer support, the ability to take gift cards, regular maintenance, and any other special features that can help you with your salon management.

 

Incidental Fees

These are additional charges related to payment errors, chargebacks, or non-sufficient funds. Some merchant services will allow a certain amount of these free per month as part of their subscription or support package, while others will have pricing set up for these.

Once again, make sure to read the “fine print” and don’t be afraid to ask about solutions for small business owners, booth renters or new salons- they might have special discounts in place for these types of merchant account.

How to Accept Card Payments?

 
 
How to accept card payments
How to Accept Card Payments

If you’re ready to start offering these payment solutions to each customer during their appointment, the next step is to decide on the type of card reader or processor to use.

The best salon credit card processing systems will work smoothly with your salon management system. The solution varies widely between salons and within the industry at large.

Hair salons have a lot of options when it comes to selecting a payment processor and industry merchant services.

Here’s an overview of some of the most common hair salon payment methods:

  • Countertop Card Machines: These are often larger online card readers that require a broadband internet connection and power outlet. They work autonomously and print receipts.

  • Mobile Card Machines: These are a type of chargeable, mobile payment processor that require their own SIM card to get online. They’re a very convenient solution, but some of them don’t print receipts.

  • Card Reader for Your Phone: This is a cheap and simple payment reader that just needs a mobile device. Its features don’t include receipt printing.

  • Salon POS (point of sale) System: A fully integrated POS that handles everything from online bookings on your salon website, can process gift certificates, set pricing and monitor inventory levels. Processed payments are automatically entered into your system.

  • Salon Software: this software doesn’t require card readers, but works a lot like e-commerce. When you sell something, a customer can pay by using SMS or a QR code.

How to Accept Tips with Card Payments?

 

The best credit card processing for hair salons includes features that make life more convenient for everyone. This includes ways to help your stylists receive tips. After all, happy employees are your most valuable asset and odds are that happy customers still want to leave them a tip.

So, how can you do this with a card reader?

Here are a few tips (pardon the pun) on tipping:

  • Include tips into payments automatically, offering clients the option to add a 15%, 20% or “other” amount.

  • Get special tipping apps (Venmo, CashApp, Tippy or other specialist apps)

  • Use a tipping device. These let clients swipe and select their tip amount after a service.

  • Ask to add a tip in a follow-up email with a satisfaction survey.

  • Have a tipping box for tips in cash.

  • Online booking. You can include a link on your salon’s website for tipping the stylist, too.

Conclusion

 

The three methods of payment accepted in most salons are credit, debit and cash. Of course, many salons will also take things like gift cards, PayPal or other cashless apps, too. With the right salon pos system and salon software, your options are virtually limitless.

Credit card processing for salons is one of the easiest and most convenient forms of salon mobile payment, and it’s often a key step in growing your business.

 
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Citations

Consumers' use of credit cards: store credit card usage as an alternative payment and financing medium
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-6606.2002.tb00432.x

Does credit-card information reporting improve small-business tax compliance?
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272717300233

Differences in consumer purchase behavior by credit card payment system
https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article-abstract/6/1/58/1799568

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