Most restaurant diners today find it convenient to pay for their meals with cards rather than cash. That’s why your restaurant, cafe, or bakery needs a restaurant merchant services provider. 

Unfortunately, many restaurant proprietors have had a negative experience with credit card processing services that don’t meet their needs. Challenges range from very high credit card processing fees and hidden charges to poor service, faulty equipment or general untrustworthiness. Since there are many other vital things that a restaurant owner needs to focus on, it is important to have a restaurant merchant services provider that supports you effectively. 

If you’re not getting sufficient support from your credit card processing provider, it might be time to make a switch. This article will discuss the different things that restaurant owners need to be aware of when they are switching restaurant merchant service providers. 

What are Restaurant Merchant Services?

A merchant service provider makes it possible for merchants(restaurant owners) to accept non-cash payment methods online and offline. They allow you to take debit or credit card payments using a Point-Of-Sale (POS) system, a payment card reader, or online. 

What To Look For When Switching Restaurant Merchant Service Providers 

At first glance, the services offered by different merchant service providers can all sound the same. However, there can be a significant difference in the fees you pay and the level of support that you get. That’s why you need to thoroughly interview, vet, and compare potential merchant service providers before switching. Here are some factors to consider:

1) Processing Fees 

High processing fees can eat into razor-thin restaurant margins. It is very important for you to examine the fees that your new merchant services provider will charge you to ensure that you are getting the best deal for your restaurant. 

There is for processing fees structures to be complex, so be sure to ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand. This allows you to compare prices and choose the best deal. Often, transparency and guaranteed rates are a good starting point. 

Some processors may lure you in by charging you very low “introductory” fees and then increasing the fees after a few months. Other processors may charge you low processing fees but make up for it in confusing flat fees. 

Watch out for hidden fees that are not disclosed during the sales process and which can cost you a lot of money down the road. Specifically, look out the following fees:

  • Account Application Fees: This is a fee that a merchant services provider charges you for processing your application. Whereas there is a cost to processing these applications, some companies will charge you much more than it actually costs. 
  • Account Setup/Training/Maintenance Fees: Your merchant services provider already receives revenue through your processing so should not be charging for setup or training in most circumstances.

2) Examine the Contract

When switching merchant services providers, there are two contracts involved: your current provider’s and your future provider’s. First, read your contract with your current provider to find out the termination fees and create a budget for it. Often, it’s worth incurring an extra cost to break ties with a poor quality  provider. Review this contract thoroughly and follow the requirements for account closure closely to avoid extra penalties. 

Next, examine the contracts of potential future providers and look out for high termination fees and long contracts. It is advisable to always review a contract thoroughly before signing up. You might think that a “month to month” contract sounds best, and it can be in some circumstances, but most companies who provide this structure are making up for it with higher fees. So a longer-term contract at a lower price might be a good fit, as long as you’ve done your homework to make sure you’re working with a high-quality company.

3) Customer Support 

The level and quality of customer support you get from your restaurant merchant services provider can have a significant effect on the profitability of your restaurant. Ensure that your new provider offers:

  • 24-hour phone support 
  • A dedicated account manager to act as your contact 

Be sure to check the reputation of your future provider on online review sites and consumer protection sites. They should be able to solve support and technical problems in a timely manner. 

4) Software & Hardware Integration

As you vet new providers, ensure that your hardware is compatible with their systems, as incompatibility can prevent you from accepting payments. Often, compatibility issues are easy to correct when your new provider sets you up. Similarly, software incompatibility can affect payment gateways.

It’s wise to choose a provider that keeps up with emerging payment technologies such as EMV chips and NFC payment methods that allow your diners to pay securely with their smartphones, smartwatches, or tap and go. This will help your restaurant get a competitive edge as more diners prefer these payment methods

5) PCI Compliance 

Your new provider should be able to store the financial data of your diners securely. To ensure this, choose a provider that is PCI compliant because if there is a security breach, you can incur huge fines. Ask about extra security features that will make your payment system more secure. 

6) International Processing 

If your restaurant gets a lot of international diners such as tourists and foreign business people, make sure that your new provider can process international transactions. This will increase your customer base and profitability. 

7) Consider Your Unique Needs 

Ask yourself if your restaurant has any unique needs such as accepting payments on your website, taking phone orders, or mobile payments. Factor in the amount of flexibility that you need. 

NMA Provides Restaurant Merchant Services

If you’re looking to switch your restaurant merchant service provider to a provider that will meet all your needs effectively and efficiently, look no further than NMA. We are a merchant Account That Works For You® regardless of whether you are a corner cafe, a local diner, or a fine dining establishment. Benefits of working with us include:

  • Round-the-clock customer service and technical support
  • PCI compliant services
  • Mobile payment terminals to make your customers feel secure 
  • Robust reporting with daily, monthly and individual server reports to save time.
  • Tip suggestions and adjustable tips. 

Reach out to NMA today to switch to a restaurant merchant services provider that works for you. We Work For You®.