Tag Archives: merchant 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!

Five Key Reasons to Offer Customers Online Credit Card Payments

ClassJuggler founder Jon Koerber was just published in the most recent issue of Dance Exec Magazine.

Check out his guest article Five Key Reasons to Offer Customers Online Credit Card Payments.

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To learn how ClassJuggler can make it easy for you to accept credit card payments at your school, read about our merchant processing add-on feature.

How Two ClassJuggler Add-on Features Can Build Your Customer Base

ClassJuggler’s cloud-based studio management software solutions for class-based businesses, such as dance schools, music schools, K-12 schools, tennis camps, gymnastics studios and cheer camps, comes with a bevy of “backend benefits” – tools that help you run your business better, such as business intelligence reports, customer records management, full-featured email communications, billing, teacher management, class schedule management, etc.

But there are two popular add-on functionalities you can upgrade to that can actually boost your new customer signups and help you keep your current customers:

Here’s how these functions can generate new business and help you retain the old:

  • Customer self-sign-up for classes. Our Customer Self-Service Center features that make it possible for students or their parents to sign up for scheduled classes right from your website, and without your assistance. Customer self-service features on your site saves you time and energy (the backend benefit) AND puts customer in control of their online interaction with your business. They can browse your course catalogue and choose classes in their own time, doing so from the comfort of their home or office.  The customer self service features turn your business into a 24-7 business, “always open,” even as you sleep, since the prospective customer can sign up any time day or night! This kind of customer empowerment can boost business.
  • Online customer self-pay and profile management. Our Customer Self-Service Center also makes it possible for your customers to go to your website, log into their own account, and add a new phone number, make an address change, or even pay for classes their kids are signed up for. Such services not only save you lots of time (the backend benefit) but helps customers do business with you efficiently. Advertising these features on your site can make your school look and function more professionally, which also makes your school more competitive compared to other schools in your area. This can generate new business.
  • Online electronic customer payments. We partner with two leading merchant processing services that enable you to affordably and easily accept credit cards or debit cards for payment from customers. Face it, most of us do business today using credit cards or electronic payments, rather than cash or checks. When you support this preference, you remove a “barrier to entry,” eliminating something that might block a potential customer from choosing your school. Merchant processing services can also help you retain your current customers, thanks to the ease of doing business with you that electronic payments allow.

You can upgrade your ClassJuggler account at any time with the customer self-service center functionality or merchant processing services, or start out with them if you’re a new customer, Contact us and we can walk you through the rates, the process, and the features.