Whether you’re paying for a take-out latte or doing your grocery shop online, cashless payments have become the norm.
But when it comes to going cashless in your own private practice it can often feel like one of those jobs that you should do but just don’t get round to.
To motivate you to make the leap this article explains what cashless payments are and more importantly why going cashless should be one of your top priorities.
What are cashless payments?
For the purposes of this article we’re going to focus on cashless/electronic payments from walk-ins and self-pay (non insured) clients. If the majority of your clients are insured it’s likely that you will already receive payment electronically from your client’s insurer via BACS (or similar) and so this article may be of less interest to you.
If you do take payments from self-pay clients, there are typically four ways you can do it:
- In Person Payments – your client pays using a contactless card when they visit your practice. This might involve tapping a simple reader paired to your phone or tablet (like Square, iZettle & SumUp) or inserting/tapping their card into/on a more traditional card terminal.
- Online Payments – your client receives an electronic invoice/email which includes a pay link/button where they can pay for their treatment using their card in just the same way as they would when shopping online.
- Card Not Present Payments – your client rings you and provides you with their card details over the phone which you enter into a card terminal. This may become more difficult going forwards with the introduction of SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) which is designed to make online payments more secure. SCA applies to all card-based payments but the validation it requires may be more problematic when someone attempts to pay over the phone.
- Electronic Transfer – arguably this is the same as an online payment but via this method the client transfers payment directly from their bank account via BACS, Direct Debit or Standing Order.
Now that we’ve covered what cashless payments are. Here are six solid reasons for going cashless:
1. Delight new clients & keep existing ones – make their life easy!
When was the last time you had cash in your pocket or purse? I know we’ve not completely done away with cash but I’m pretty sure it’s been 6 months since I paid for anything with cash.
The world has changed, and if you haven’t yet embraced cashless payment now is the time to do it 🙂
If you’re not allowing your clients to pay electronically via one of the channels outlined above you’re likely losing customers.
The only segment where cash is now king is for low value transactions (< £10) and even that is being eroded. Typically most single treatments are >£40 (based on anonymised data in WriteUpp) and most invoices for a course of treatment are >£100. No one wants to have to remember to take a trip to the ATM before their treatment.
As you’ll read below there are plenty of reasons why you and your business can benefit from not accepting cash but this one is all about your clients. You need to make sure their treatment experience (which includes paying) is as frictionless as possible.
2. No more cashing up, trips to the bank or fees
When you accept cash or cheques there are real costs and hidden “time & hassle” costs:
- Most banks these days charge a fee for accepting cash/cheque deposits
- To pay cash or cheques into your bank account you need to “cash up”, submit a paying-in slip and take a trip to your bank to deposit the money/cheques, which is time consuming and, depending on the amounts of cash involved, unnecessarily risky.
3. Integration with your practice management system
This is a HUGE timesaver and it’s not as tricky as you might think. Here are a few of the options:
- Online Payments – most systems these days integrate with one of the major online payment providers like PayPal, Stripe or Square. If you’re prepared to make the move to sending your clients an invoice/email with a pay button/link, your system (depending on its capabilities) will probably take care of automatically reconciling the payment, marking the treatment as “paid” and keeping you up to date with unpaid sessions.
- In Person Payments – at present integration between cloud-based practice management systems and card readers/terminals is less widespread but this is changing fast. Payments provider, Square, is leading the way in this field and here at WriteUpp we’ll have some exciting news on this in the coming months. This level of integration will mean that you’ll be able to pull up your client’s record within your system and send the payment details straight to the reader/terminal for your client to pay (in person) with their card. When they do, like online payments, everything will be reconciled and marked as “paid”.
4. Turnover is Vanity, Profit is Sanity, but Cash Flow is King!
We all know that cash flow is king and it’s never been more true than during the recent period of uncertainty. Switching to cashless payment will have a positive impact on your finances for these reasons:
- When someone pays you electronically you generally receive the funds into your account quicker. Some providers may delay and aggregate individual payments but in most cases payments will hit your account within one working day.
- When you receive cash or cheques you tend to wait a few days until you have “enough” to take to the bank. Then when they’re deposited, cheques will take a number of working days to clear. Both of these delays have a negative impact on your cash flow.
- If you periodically receive cheques, you run the risk of sitting on them until you have time to get into the bank to pay them in. How many times have you stumbled across an uncashed cheque amongst a pile of papers?
- Knowing that funds will hit your account more or less instantaneously will allow you to plan more effectively and avoid the possibility that large cash outflows (payroll, leases etc) will go out before cash/cheques have been cleared or deposited.
5. Give your clients the freedom to pay from anywhere they want to (including your practice)
Say goodbye to the days when your clients could only pay at your reception desk. Cashless payments open up a whole new world of options for your clients to pay when and where they want to.
- Allowing them the flexibility to pay at a time and place that is most convenient to them improves their treatment experience.
- Taking your payments online allows your clients to leave promptly giving you more time between clients (for prep, note writing or decontamination) and them the freedom to pay from the comfort of their own home.
But offering electronic payments doesn’t mean you have to give up in-person payments completely. This is about choice, flexibility and efficiency.
6. Lower transmission risks
Going cashless will reduce unnecessary client contact and the possibility of infectious disease (not just COVID) transmission via cash.
Considerations when going cashless
- Are you dealing with an ageing client base or one that rarely has internet access? If you are, cashless payments might prevent a part of your base from being able to pay for your services. However, given the number of people that have switched to online shopping and contactless payments this past year, these numbers may well be smaller than you think.
- Make sure that the cashless platform you are using is PCI compliant and also ensure that you will be insulated from legislative changes like EU SCA (Strong Customer Authentication)
- Where possible aim to have some level of integration between your payment processor and your practice management system
- There are fees associated with taking payments online or in person using the technologies outlined in this article. The table below provides you with links to the fees pages of most of the major providers.
What are your options when it comes to service providers?
If you’ve decided to take the leap and go cashless but are having a hard time figuring out which types of payment and which providers are right for you, then take a look at this overview to help you make sense of your options.
What types of cashless payments are right for me?
|Type of Payment
|In Person, card-based payments
Using a traditional Card reader provided by companies like WorldPay & PaymentSense
|– Stand alone and easy to set up
– Quickly start taking card payment
– No ability to take payments online
– Seldom integrated with cloud-based private practice software
– Requires manual reconciliation between the device and your practice management system
|In Person, card-based payments
Using new, lightweight terminal providers that can connect to mobiles and tablets like Square, SumUp, iZettle
|– Cheap to buy
– Low fees
– Very easy to use
|– Seldom integrated with cloud-based practice management software
– If no integration exists, it requires manual reconciliation between the device and your practice management system
Using services like Square, Stripe or PayPal that are integrated into the software that you use to run your practice
|– No hardware required
– Low fees
– Very easy to use
– Likely to be fully integrated with your practice management software
– Easy reconciliation between the device and your practice management system
– Easy to set up
|– Some clients prefer to pay-in-person rather than online
– Lacks the immediacy of in person payments and may result in slower payment by your clients
What service provider should I choose?
IMPORTANT: Most (if not all) of the online options, with the possible exception of PayPal require some level of integration.
- Going cashless isn’t as hard as you think
- Most practice management system providers will be able to advise you on the payment integrations that they offer
- Similarly, most of the major payment platform providers like Square, Stripe and iZettle will be able to advise you on the systems that they integrate with
- Going cashless will save you time and improve cash flow
- Offering cashless payment options to your clients will improve their experience with your practice.
If you’re interested in taking your practice online and streamlining the way you take payments you can get a free 30 day trial of WriteUpp by clicking here.