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How Does a “Recession” Affect Your Merchant Account?

March 23, 2023

Recession is a buzz word right now, but is it really something your business should worry about?

The word recession sparks fear instantly for both consumers and merchants alike. When people change their spending habits, it’s a balancing act for business owners to not only protect their investments, but also maintain brand presence. Continuing to be a customer’s top choice often comes down to brand loyalty and giving customers more to nurture loyalty.

The first question is whether or not your business is “recession-proof” – profitable regardless of the economy or political climate. Services such as plumbing, electricians, HVAC, and funeral homes are always profitable, however if you’re in a more competitive market there are more variables to keeping customers in place. It’s a very fine line to walk as a business-owner, but there are things you can do to keep an edge over your competition. Tapping into finding out what people really want when money is tight is important, because even if your business does not necessarily fall into the category of recession-proof, there are ways to convince a customer to stick with you even if someone else has a better deal.For example, you have an amazing mechanic but their prices go up because of the cost of parts. Do you leave the garage, or do you keep bringing your car to the trustworthy mechanic you value? Many people would choose to stick with the mechanic, and it comes down to the customer relationship. Developing strong relationships with people seeking your goods and/or services is the first step; offering customer service that stands head-above-shoulders over your competition is a fail-proof method to staying afloat.

The second question is, how can I make my business stand out? Natural instinct is to pull back funding for marketing initiatives, but this isn’t the case! Strategize a marketing plan to keep your brand relevant, including digital marketing, social media, new business cards, billboards, brochures, and so on. Set aside money during the better times so that during the leaner times, you can tap into really monetizing marketing efforts – something that many businesses choose not to do because of lack of resources. Start making a plan today to get in touch with a marketing service or hire an in-house marketing team to implement a marketing strategy that will keep your business’ name out there. A quick, easy, and cheap way to make a difference is to keep active on your LinkedIn page. Creating content and posts using hashtags, as well as connecting to the best of the best in your area can easily get people talking about your business being the #1 choice for whatever goods or services that are provided.

According to Forbes in 2019, “73% of surveyed customers will pay more for a brand they love and trust.” This is in direct response to businesses making sure that they are transparent about the efforts they are making for their customers. One way to do this is to partner with your credit card processing company to offer your customers a cash discount. Ideal candidates have high-volume but low dollar amount transactions, such as a convenience store, so you wouldn’t want to go this route if you were, say, a jeweler. While customers can still use a credit/debit card or contactless payment, you can offer a discount when a customer uses cash. This will allow your credit card processing fees to be reduced, as many people will choose the cash route. For customers that frequent your business, you can suggest purchasing a gift card. Buying a pre-paid gift card if they know they will need to spend a certain amount of dollars will reduce the fees tacked onto the transaction. If you provide a service, such as a hairstylist, you can also accept ACH payments through an online processor such as Authorize.net.

Another question you may ask yourself is, “Do I need a point-of-sale system?” If your customer-base frequently uses card over cash, consider a virtual terminal (VT) in place of swiped transactions. This will avoid any fees that are tied to the equipment. With many processors, you are automatically opted into a virtual-terminal program where you can go online and log into your VT, using a connected swiper or hand-keying the card information in. You can easily email a receipt to your customer. Again, this is a great option for business owners that provide services such as beauty treatments and landscaping, and niche retail/pop-up stores.

Last but not least – evaluate the relationship with your merchant service provider. If you have any doubts that your current agreement is not working in the best interest of your business, call or email us, and our team of experts will show you just how good you can have it with Card Network.