You’ve done it! You’re generating consistent cash flow month after month — you can predict exactly what’s coming in and exactly what’s going out.
For many business owners though, this is still a dream.
But, with a few tweaks to your current set up you can start to turn that dream into a reality.
Maintaining a consistent cash flow is a critical element of running a successful business — you need to be able to pay your bills and, more importantly, pay yourself! I come across too many business owners who do not have this crucial foundational system in place. As a result they’re on a constant feast or famine cycle … you know, some months they have a massive surge in income, and the following month they hardly have two pennies to rub together.
As well as being an inefficient way to run a business, it’s also very stressful.
You never know if you’re going to have a good month this month, and be able to pay your bills, or barely scrape by.
For these reasons I am huge fan of payment plans, both for making my own purchases in my business and for clients to pay me.
Because it helps enormously with cash flow – which is crucial when it comes to the smooth running, and long-term success, of your business.
On the expenses side, I can easily budget for expenses. As a business owner you too want to be able to manage your own cash flow, i.e. the money going out of your business, not just the money coming in. By taking advantage of payment plans when you sign up for any kind of business development program, you’ll know exactly how much is going out of your business each and every month. You’ll be able to manage your expenses much better — rather than a big lump sum going out in one month, you can spread the payments out over several months.
And on the income side, you can easily anticipate how much is going to come into your business every month, and make plans accordingly. And you’ll also be able to grab opportunities as they present themselves because you know your financial situation.
So know that you understand a little more how payment plans can help you, both as a business owner and service provider, today I’d like to share with you my five steps to increasing cash flow in your own business by utilizling payment plans.
1. Get a merchant account. I consider this a must-have for any business owner wishing to do business online or providing one-on-one services with clients. With a merchant account you can very easily accept all major credit cards without your clients and customers having to go via Paypal (this is a great option for a secondary payment processor). And, most importantly, you can set your client payments up for automatic recurring billing. Doesn’t that sound fabulous?
2. Offer payment plans. Again, this is a must-have for anything you sell costing more than $150. So this would apply to your products, programs, and mostly your one-on-one client services. How you choose to set up your payment plans is entirely up to you, but a good rule of thumb is to add between 10-20% onto the full pay price and divide that number by the required number of payments. For private client payment plans, you may want to approach that slightly differently, depending on the program and investment level.
3. Don’t stretch payment plans out too far. This is especially important for your group programs and one-on-one client programs. You want to ensure that when the end of the program is reached the client has made all of their payments. There is the danger that if you let payments go beyond the end of the program the client will feel that they’re paying for a program they are no longer a part of, and this can result in higher credit card declines.
4. Have clear payment policies in place. Talking of declines and other ‘uncomfortable’ payment issues, make sure you have a clear policy in place for how you’re going to collect on non-payers. How do you contact them, i.e. phone, email, certified letter, and how long do you leave it before making contact with them? Are you willing to go as far as handing things over to a collections agency?
5. Be aware of all the fees involved. Many business owners get stung by unforeseen merchant and shopping cart fees. Check out what fees are involved on your merchant account – there is usually a monthly account fee, a monthly gateway fee, and per transaction fees (which are usually a percentage of the transaction). And if you’re using recurring billing through your shopping cart, check out their recurring transaction fees too. If you’re using Paypal also be aware of their fees; on the surface it may seem a better deal than having your own merchant account, but dig a little deeper, and understand exactly what’s involved.
Increasing your cash flow by offering payments options is definitely a good way forward, both for you as the business owner and your clients. But do be fully aware of any costs and pitfalls involved so that you can plan and budget accordingly.
What questions do you have about setting up payment plans? Post in the comments below; I’d love to help.
(c) 2017 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC