Tag Archives: credit card processing

Merchant Processing 101

Understanding how to accept credit/debit cards in your business

Merchant processing and the software and network providers that make it all work is a complicated topic. As a school/studio owner, you simply don’t need to know all the mumbo-jumbo mechanics of merchant processing.

You are busy enough teaching classes and running your business! So we simplify the basics right here, outlining the steps you’ll take to process a credit card payment from a customer. And if you want to simplify getting set up with merchant processing even more, contact us – we can help!

The basics

Generally, people say “merchant account” when they are talking about credit card processing. But normally, there are 3 pieces involved in merchant processing that give you the ability to take a payment from your customers:

  • The Front End – The person making the payment
  • The Middle – The gateway that is authorizing and verifying the payment
  • The Back End – Your merchant bank who moves the money into your account

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These three pieces are not necessarily things you have to purchase or manage individually. Think of them as one virtual process that is mostly invisible to you. But let’s look at each.

The Front End

At the front of every transaction you or the customer directly begin the transaction when processing a payment. The job of the front-end is to capture all of the important information about a transaction so it can be sent electronically for processing.

The front-end can be any of the following:

A physical retail card terminal – where you swipe or insert a chip card for payment. Just like the ones you see at the grocer or a card reader at a gas pump. These are not common for dance studios unless the studio is doing a lot of retail sales.

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A virtual terminal – This is simple software, usually found aqs a form on a Web site, that you fill out with all of the details of a payment for a customer to process a single payment. These, too, are rarely used by a studio/school.

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A fully integrated software frontend like ClassJuggler, which allows for additional features such as customer account history, secure card storage, recurring batch payment processing, emailed receipts, and more. This method provides the most value, time savings, and features.

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The Middle

Sitting in the middle of all transactions is the gateway. An example of a gateway company is Visa’s Authorize.Net. The gateway’s job is to validate every transaction you or your customers process.

The gateway takes the information from the frontend and then contacts the issuing bank of the customer’s credit or debit card and validates a number of important things:

  1. · Address verification
  2. · Checking to see if the card is still active and valid
  3. · Checking expiration date
  4. · Making sure the cardholder has sufficient funds to cover the payment.

The gateway then tells the front-end whether or not the transaction succeeded or failed.

All successful transactions are then held as “pending” by the gateway until the end of the day when all the transactions are “captured” and then batched together and sent to the back-end processor for funding.

The backend

The backend merchant bank or processor is a three-fold job:

  1. The backend bank/processor takes the batch file from the gateway and deposits the funds you have collected each day into your bank account.
  2. The backend processor calculates all of the fees associated with each transaction, and then typically deducts those fees daily, or at the end of each month, for the entire month’s processing.
  3. Finally, the merchant bank provides you with either a printed or online statement showing all activity and fees from your account each month.

If you’re a ClassJuggler customer, you can bring your own merchant processor or use our merchant processing service. Going through us will greatly streamline the process, at a well-negotiated processing service rate, and syncs up with your client data within ClassJuggler.  Find out more about our merchant processing tools here.

The Top 5 Benefits of Merchant Processing for Your Business

processingDebating whether or not it’s worth your time, expense, or effort to offer credit and debit card payments at your school by setting up a merchant account?

Most who do so find it’s more than worth it! Here are the top five reasons why.

1. Finally begin accepting credit cards and debit cards

While this may seem obvious, the greatest benefit a merchant account delivers is the ability to accept credit cards and debit cards instead of just cash or checks.

Today, it’s pretty much the “norm” that your customers expect to use the plastic in their card_terminalwallets (, rather than cash or check) for all kinds of transactions. Therefore, to remain competitive as a business, it’s important to provide that payment option to them.

2. Increase enrollment and sales

There was a study performed by The Sloan School of Management at MIT which revealed that customers spend more when given the option to use credit cards over cash. In fact, their research shows that customers can spend up to 100% more!

Think about the impact of this at your school. Such an increase in financial transactions would directly impact sales and overall growth of your business.

3. Enjoy the benefits of better Money management

Accepting credit cards and enabling customers to make online payments for classes significantly streamlines the way your business handles transactions. Instead of counting cash, chasing late payments, and dealing with deposits, electronic payments keep you better organized and allow for better cash flow management and budget forecasting.

Credit card transactions also help prevent customers from building large balances due to your school because of their personal fluctuating income. Instead of you carrying these due balances on their behalf, such parents can now pay their full balance to you and go into a payment program with their credit card company. After all, it’s not your business to act as their personal bank.

4. Avoid bad checks

By using merchant account services and accepting electronic payments, your business completely avoids the hassle and costs associated with bounced checks.

5. Please your customers with the added convenience

A merchant account generates happy (and family_at_computerreturning) customers simply because it gives them the flexibility to make purchases in different ways. Whether it’s with credit or debit cards, online payments or recurring billing, your customer can be at ease knowing the payment process is fast and easy!

ClassJuggler’s Merchant Processing Gets Even Better

If you didn’t catch the news in our September newsletter about changes related to our merchant processing (the way we help you accept credit cards and debit cards for payment at your school, including for dance schools, swim schools, cheer/gymnastics schools, martial art schools, and more), read on!

For many years, ClassJuggler’s credit card and debit card processing services were aided by way of CyberSource (our gateway partner) and Global Payments. But in June, CyberSource, who had been recently acquired by Visa, shifted its focus to serving only much larger businesses.

This business model change required us to look for a new partner for our gateway services, one whose services and support match the needs of our customers.

We began our search with our criteria included locating a partner Gateway services company that:

  • Has a strong reputation for customer service
  • Would be no more expensive than our former service.

In late June, we found what we were looking for in Authorize.Net – a company that specializes in gateway services specifically for smaller businesses. ClassJuggler has since become a direct reseller of Authorize.Net. This new gateway provides us with two distinct benefits over CyberSource:

  • ClassJuggler is now able to set up and support Authorize.Net directly for our clients – a notable improvement over CyberSource.
  • Our pricing is after the switchover to Authorize.Net will actually be lower, saving most of our clients another $100 to $120 in fees every year!

Our other notable change is with our merchant account provider. We are moving away from Global Payments and going with First Data Corporation instead for our merchant services.

First Data provides ClassJuggler’s clients with better tools and support for their merchant accounts and has a much simpler application process and generally lower fees.

All good news! Our new package of merchant services will help us provide you, our clients, with better support and services as we, and you, continue to grow.

If you are already using our merchant processing services and have questions about this, please feel free to contact us at (866) 214-6128 or email support@classjuggler.com. Our support hours are Mon–Fri from 8am–5pm PT. Also, contact us if you are already using ClassJuggler and wish to upgrade your account to start offering debiting credit card processing services to your school’s customers.

You can learn more about our credit card processing changes or learn these Five Key Reasons to Offer Customers Online Credit Card Payments.