Thursday, March 27, 2014

Don’t Lose the Sale: Avoid “Sticker Shock” by Offering Payment Options

Despite your knowledge, expertise, and the superior quality of the product or service you offer, some potential customers are just going to focus on asking, “but how much does it cost?!”  If you are in a business that offers products/services with a high upfront cost  -- think of dental, orthodontic, and veterinary expenses, for starters -- you can lose a potential sale due to “sticker shock.”  The savvy customer of the digital age is going to look for payment options that allow him or her to spread out the cost of high-priced products and services over a period of time.  Which leaves you, the business owner, in a quandary.  You many not want to lose a potential sale, but you also may not want to take on the administrative headache of offering a payment plan to make your product or service more affordable to more people.  Is there anything you can do?
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Third-Party Financing
There are a number of companies that will offer third-party financing plans to your customers.  The advantages are obvious:  the huge strain placed on your customer’s budget by a high, one-time charge is alleviated by paying in installments over time.  However, there are a few drawbacks to third-party financing.  First, not all creditworthy customers are approved for these plans.  Second, some customers simply balk at the word “financing,” because they will have to pay interest on the purchase price.  Finally, third-party financing is not a “free ride” for your business…usually you must pay a fee to offer these plans to your customers.  Typically, the fee is a portion of the total charge for your services, so you are not actually getting paid in full.

In-house Payment Plans
Another option is offering an in-house payment plan.  No, you would not receive your total charges up front, but you could make the sale instead of losing it.  If you are offering services that occur over a period of time, you can set up a payment schedule that concludes at the end of your service term, ensuring payment in full.  The advantage to your customer is that this is not financing, and does not involve credit.  You are simply making it easier for them to pay you, by breaking up a large payment into smaller, more manageable chunks.

But I Don’t Have Time to Manage a Payment Plan!
Yes you do…that is where EBCS comes in! You enroll your customers in a payment plan, and then EBCS will completely handle the account from there.  There is no extra work for you or your staff.  If for any reason a customer’s payment is declined or returned, EBCS’s professional customer service team will manage all the follow-up so you don’t have to deal with this potentially time-consuming task, and you can rest assured that your payments will be received. 

Managing Payments is EBCS’s Specialty
For over 26 years, EBCS has handled payment processing and recovery (collections) for all types of businesses.  This is our core competency, and we excel in it.  Let us help you get more business by putting your customers on a reasonable payment plan. EBCS will automatically debit your customer’s checking or savings account, or bill their credit card, on a recurring basis (credit card transactions are subject to a discount fee.)  You can choose the billing cycle: monthly, weekly, bi-weekly…whatever works best for you and your customer.  Payments collected from your customers will then be automatically deposited into your business’s bank account.  There is nothing for you to do…except get paid!

We’ll Do All the Work, And You’ll Always Have Access to Customer Account Information

Client Portal: 
EBCS is your complete back-office solution for handling payments.  But just because we offer a turn-key account management package doesn’t mean that you won’t have access to all the data and information related to your customers’ accounts.  Through our EBCS Client Portal, you can log in anytime and view various reports:  Remittance Reports, Delinquency Reports, and Daily Sales, among others. You can even create your own customized reports with our Report Wizard.  You can also view customer payment history and other pertinent account information. 

Customer Portal:
Your customers, too, can take advantage of our Customer Portal, allowing them to go online to make payments, view their payment history, or update personal or banking information.  You won’t have to spend your valuable time doing this for them.

Help Your Customers Say “Yes” to Doing Business With You
Stop worrying about scaring potential customers away from higher-priced products and services.  There is an alternative.  You don’t have to discount your fees or not get compensated fairly in order to attract new business.  It could simply be a matter of offering potential customers a flexible, alternative payment option.  EBCS can help create the best automated, recurring payment package for you and your customers, so you can go out and do what you do best -- get more business!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thinking Outside the Box Stall: A Better Way to Get Paid for Riding Lessons

Earning money by giving riding lessons is a central part of the operation of many horse businesses. Riding lessons can be an excellent stream of income for stables for several reasons. Giving riding lessons introduces new riders to the facility, offers opportunities for boarding, horse sales, and tack sales. Riding Lessons offer an opportunity to begin a long term relationship with your student with a large economic value to you over a term of years if pursued correctly.

Pricing and Payment Agreements
Whether your business includes teaching lessons to children and adult amateurs, taking groups on trail rides, or training the highest level competitive riders, you need a payment agreement with your students. All students that come to you for instruction pay you for your services no matter the age group, type of riding, or skill level. Your first goal is to come up with a price list for your services. Once you have done this, and your students and clients are aware of your services and prices, you must set up a system in which they pay for these services.

Personal Checks for Payment, or Automatic Debits?
Many trainers ask that students give them a personal check each time they come to a lesson. But frequent lessoners may agree to a weekly or a monthly payment system, which is more convenient and cost-effective for both trainer and student.  EBCS can set your lesson clients up on automatic debits to a checking, savings or credit card account. You and your student can determine a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly date that works best for both parties.  We provide you with an easy-to-complete form for recording your student's bank account or credit card information.  The form can then be faxed or securely e-mailed to EBCS, and we take it from there!  Your student will be automatically billed on a recurring basis for lessons.  This can be set up on an open-ended, ongoing basis, or it can be time-limited, for example to 3 months, 6 months, or any fixed time period that you, as the trainer, determine.  This keeps everything professional, organized, and easy for both parties. The trainer is protected from loss of revenue due to missed lessons or no-shows, and the student no longer has to worry about remembering to bring or mail a check.  In addition, when payments are automatically debited, your student has an added incentive to show up for lessons, and not cancel at the last minute or simply not show up. Yet another benefit of EBCS services: funds debited are electronically deposited in your bank account.  No more carrying around crumpled, undeposited lesson checks for days at a time, and no more trips to the bank.

Services Designed with Horse Professionals in Mind
EBCS billing solutions for equine businesses were developed with the unique needs of horse professionals in mind.  It is our goal to make it easier for you to focus on your core business -- your horses and clients or students -- instead of spending hours each week or month reconciling your invoices and receipts.  We can help you with all your billing needs for boarding, training, and lessons, or we can help take over the recurring billing tasks for your combination board/training packages.  Click on the link below, or call us for more detailed information, at 410-252-9206 or 800-766-1918 if you are outside the Baltimore area.  We would love to talk to you about solutions for stabilizing your recurring revenue stream and improving cash flow in your equine business.