When Did House Accounts Get Such a Bad Rap?
Recently, we’ve been hearing a lot from our clients about house accounts. Many are processing their transactions manually either due to POS or price book restrictions or lack of a better process. Clients speak about how time consuming and labor intensive the process is. In some cases, they are trying to eliminate house accounts altogether and switch those customers to credit cards.
There’s an easier way without all the paperwork or incurring more credit card transaction fees and more importantly, keeping that customer’s business loyal to you. Implementing proprietary card accounts is a straightforward process, and associated costs are well justified. After implementing, several clients have decided to expand their proprietary card offerings and have seen a significant ROI.
Recent client’s story
This client has eight convenience stores averaging about $75,000 a month in house account transactions. They were handwriting tickets and keying them into their price book software at the end of the day. Sometimes those handwritten tickets went missing, sometimes they didn’t quite make it back to the home office and frequently “non-authorized” purchases were making their way onto the account. In addition, the customer verbally relayed the house account number to the cashier and signed the receipt with his chicken scratch signature. Once those handwritten tickets made it to the office, they were pulled from the end of day envelope and manually sorted into customer folders in a filing cabinet. 30 days later they were pulled back out of the cabinet, copies made of the receipts and then the original stack refiled and the other stuffed in an envelope along with a statement. In some cases, several days later, weeks after the transactions occurred, the home office would receive calls questioning some of the charges and signatures on those cashier handwritten tickets, usually resulting in a few write offs. The vicious cycle would repeat itself, month after month, year after year.
Does that process sound familiar to you?
Clients have expressed concerns on where to start, self-funding, card management, increased credit risk, not enough customers and the effort of managing these accounts. There are a few steps that you can take to help mitigate those concerns and grow your proprietary accounts business.
- Consider shortening credit terms
- ACH proprietary card customers
- Set credit limits by customer or by card
- Utilize real time card management allowing to activate or deactivate cards
- One central location for managing activity for all POS types
Better Tools = Loyalty = More Profit
- Customer account online access so they can view transactions, print invoices and run reports
- Offer cost plus or price adjustments to gain business or increase volumes
- Special incentives for pre-paid account customers
- You and your customers can control what is purchased on the cards (POS department, fuel or site restrictions)
- Pin, odometer and/or driver identification
- Tax exempt management
- Useful reporting and data
- Reduce swipe fees
- Repeat business month after month
So, let’s go back to our client 12 months after implementing a proprietary card system. They have been able to simplify the process and take the burden off their cashiers. No more handwritten tickets or verbal account numbers, no more authorizing pumps from inside the store – no card no purchase. They have eliminated the monthly write offs, and many of their new customers agreed to ACH on 15-day terms. Existing and new clients are utilizing the customer portal to view transactions and reports cutting back on phone inquiries at the home office. Home office labor has been reduced. Fuel volumes and dollars have increased 175%, and they are actively recruiting customers.