While not all businesses find credit cards worthwhile, many welcome such payments from their customers.
“The real advantage is that people who might otherwise not pay as the job is completed will pay if they only have to call in their credit card,” says Jack Kostak, owner of All-Seal Home Improvement in Dayton, Ohio.
PAYMENT PERKS In order to earn air miles and other rewards, more people use plastic, especially for down Glass, a window replacement company in Tacoma, Wash., at least half of the sales volume is rung up on credit cards, with larger sales being charged more often than they used to be. So, for jobs of more than $10,000, the contractor either adds a 1% charge or negotiates with the customer to recover some of the credit card bank's administrative fees, says vice president Gvido Bars. Fees typically run about 2.6%, plus a per-item charge of 25 cents. For jobs of less than $10,000, the contractor regards the fees as a business cost.
SEAL OF APPROVAL On the other hand, All-Seal never charges a credit card fee to its customers. “It's hard enough getting them to the point of making the decision to purchase,” Kostak explains. “We don't want to complicate it.”
Weatherguard Systems in New London, Wis., doesn't charge a separate fee either. Instead, the contractor builds the cost into the price of products, says CEO Jared Murray. In addition, Weatherguard has persuaded credit card carriers to cut fees to less than 2%.
The company believes potential customers are more inclined to purchase from Weatherguard than from other contractors because they can use a credit card, giving them the option of disputing a charge. Murray says the company's had no chargebacks, though, for 10 years.
CARD DECLINED Accepting credit cards may work for many contractors, but McDowell Inc., in St. Charles, Ill., which specializes in exterior renovations, has a no credit card policy. Few customers ask to use their cards, the company says that it loses no business because of the policy, and McDowell's accountants argue that taking credit cards is a “bookkeeping nightmare,” according to vice president Sue McDowell. When customers do ask to charge, McDowell suggests instead using one of the ubiquitous checks that credit card companies send out.