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6 payment acceptance tips for new veterinary practices

Congratulations on starting your own veterinary practice! This is a busy and exciting time, and we know you have a lot of decisions to make. To help make your launch as smooth as possible, we’ve compiled a list of six payment acceptance tips for new practice owners.

1. Take payments on the go

Equipping your practice with a point-of-sale (POS) solution that can accept payments from virtually anywhere can be a critical differentiator for clients (and their furry friends).

Perhaps your client has an aggressive dog that should be kept away from the main waiting room. Taking a payment in the exam room is less stressful for the pet owner and for other clients who are waiting. Or, maybe you need to perform a home visit or host a mobile clinic; having the flexibility to make transactions on the spot ensures you’ll receive payment while your client and patient remain in a more comfortable environment.

2. Offer wellness plans and/or recurring payments

As wellness and payment plans become more popular in the pet care space, successful vets are offering clients the ability to make recurring payments.

“Many times, visits to the vet are unexpected. And it’s those unexpected visits that often come with hefty bills,” says Adam Cigich, vice president, inside sales leader at Bank of America Merchant Services. “Vets that offer payment plans appeal to clients because clients can pay for unexpected procedures in regular monthly payments versus covering the full cost upfront. Similarly, wellness plans are popular because they let clients spread out the cost of annual checkups and vaccines into smaller, regular monthly payments.”

As you’re establishing your practice, be sure to work with a payments provider that can set up recurring payments.

3. Ensure payment is quick and easy to get clients in and out faster

Just as most humans don’t enjoy doctor visits, few animals are thrilled to be at the vet. Offering clients fast ways to pay, like a contactless payment or digital invoice, could help get them out the door quicker.

For example, a client holding a leash may only have one free hand; waving her cellphone across a Near Field Communications (NFC) reader to make a contactless payment will be much easier than digging through her wallet for a credit card. Or receiving a bill via email could keep clients from waiting to check out altogether, making both your practice and the client’s experience more efficient. In fact, 57% of vets2 expect more clients to use digital wallets over the next five years, and more than a third believe clients will want to pay online.

4. Improve cash flow and support

Veterinarians who choose to use card processing services that integrate with their veterinary management software may face expensive pricing and/or high transaction fees. Be sure to look for a payments provider that can offer competitive pricing and next-day funding to help improve cash flow.

Ask the bank that holds your business checking account if they have any recommendations or offers: with a Bank of America business account and merchant services from Bank of America Merchant Services, for example, you can expect funds from transactions to hit your account as soon as the next business day.1  You can also earn cash rewards on your processing volume.

Finally, look for a processor that lets you offer a plethora of payment options, including credit and debit cards, mobile payments, digital invoices, checks, etc. Allowing customers to pay their preferred way can help improve sales and cash flow.

Your practice’s business hours could also determine the best merchant services provider for you. Most merchant services companies provide customer support during standard business hours. If you need to contact a specialist before 9 a.m., or on a Saturday, you could be forced to stop accepting payments and wait for assistance. When researching merchant services providers, make sure customer support is available to you any time your practice is open.

5. Protect client card data

A fraud or security breach could greatly damage your professional reputation. Your payment solution should accept chip cards to help prevent the acceptance of counterfeit credit cards. It should also encrypt and tokenize client card data to help secure payment information. If you take payments online, use a PCI compliant payment gateway that will secure and tokenize data.

6. Always feel supported

The right POS solution can help you manage your business in addition to accepting payments. Today, 60% of small business owners, including veterinarians, use their POS to help with back-office tasks. Thinking of joining the growing number of veterinarians who sell food, leashes and other retail items? A modern POS will process both your retail and your veterinary payments while helping with a range of business management tasks, from filing sales tax to inventory management.

Certain POS solutions can help you market your practice as well. More than 40 percent of the veterinarians we surveyed for our third annual Small Business Payments Spotlight agree that clients have more say in the market because of online reviews.2 Vets also realize that clients can be choosier about the practices they decide to visit because there are more options available. With this research in mind, consider using a POS to manage your online reviews or help with marketing efforts.

Ultimately, the type of payment solution you pick needs to meet the needs of your clients and practice. Taking payments on the go lets you personalize your client’s experience, and accepting contactless and/or online payments can help get patients out the door faster. Meanwhile, next-day funding and business management tools contribute to your experience as a practice owner. By planning for payment acceptance in the initial stages of setting up your veterinary practice, you’ll be more likely to find the right solution for your business.

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