The American Karate Studio in St. Petersburg, FL, finds an effective payment processing solution for an after-school program with Intuit PaymentNetwork's online invoicing capabilities, affordable flat fee structure, worry-free merchant services, and integrated QuickBooks accounting.
The American Karate Studio, the oldest karate studio in St. Petersburg, Florida, was founded in the mid-1970s. It functioned as a nonprofit for many years, supported through city recreational centers and the Salvation Army. In 1998, the American Karate Studio opened commercially, and in 2001, they began an after-school karate program. Elementary-aged children are picked up from school and taken to the studio where they learn martial arts skills and life skills in a structured program. The program has boosted the studio's business, exploding to a current level of 85 kids every day.
Tim McCahan, owner of the American Karate Studio, explains that the growth resulting from the after-school program brought new challenges. Parents had to pay a weekly tuition for their children to go to the after-school program, and usually paid on the same day every week. Like most Americans, the preferred payment method of most parents was credit or debit cards. This meant that the studio could only process one payment at a time, often leading to long waits and a crowded lobby. “It was just crazy, we could only swipe one card at a time,” explains McCahan.
Moreover, accepting debit and credit cards meant having to establish a merchant services account. McCahan's experience of testing out merchant services accounts with various banks and other payment alternatives was highly frustrating. Banks would start out with a low rate, but inevitably raise the rates and fees. Complicated statements, and PCI compliance issues also caused numerous headaches. He tried several alternative payment programs, which often involved $200-$400 in start-up fees, as well as monthly fees and other charges. Tim regularly had to pay around $500 per month just in merchant services fees.
Having been a user of Intuit QuickBooks for many years, McCahan noticed Intuit's introduction of a new payment solution, Intuit PaymentNetwork, in the fall of 2011. What caught his attention was the promise of a flat transaction fee of a mere fifty cents, with no other start-up or monthly fees involved. His first thought was that it was too good to be true, but he decided to give it a try and was not disappointed.
Setup was simple, and many parents signed up for the Intuit PaymentNetwork within the first month. More have signed up with each following month, leaving only a few computer shy customers who are hesitant to try the new method. Fortunately, the Intuit QuickBooks reputation has helped to alleviate any worries, and once customers do make the switch they find it much more convenient.
Now, with the Intuit PaymentNetwork, invoices are sent out to customers via email each week. The customer can simply click on the payment link, view the invoice, and make the payment online. McCahan sees payments being made within minutes of sending the invoices, and the funds are deposited within a day or two, without McCahan having to swipe cards or make trips to the bank. The time saved from having to manually process payments is significant, leaving more time to better serve customers while they are there at the studio.
Bookkeeping is also simplified since the Intuit PaymentNetwork is integrated with QuickBooks accounting software. Since the studio was already using QuickBooks for accounting, the invoices and payments can now automatically sync with the QuickBooks account.
Intuit PaymentNetwork allows customers to pay as a guest or create their own user account. McCahan has encouraged customers to create their own accounts, since it offers them the benefit of tracking their own payments. Previously, the studio would give customers a print-out of what they had paid for the year, a time-consuming and complicated process. Now, customers who register for their own account can easily see their payment history, and McCahan has one less job to worry about.
To sum up the experience with Intuit PaymentNetwork, McCahan says, “It has saved us several hundreds of dollars every month, it was extremely easy to implement, it did away with PCI compliance worries, and you simply cannot beat the flat fifty cent transaction fee.”
More about Intuit PaymentNetwork
Although the American Karate Studio uses the Intuit PaymentNetwork as an integrated program with QuickBooks, IPN can also be used as an independent online payment solution. For businesses that work with vendors as well as customers, payments can easily go both ways.
Since its introduction, Intuit's new payment processing solution has provided a welcome relief to many types of businesses--from nonprofits, consulting services, and contractors, to clubs and private schools. Yumi Clark, Director of the Strategic Payments Initiative, observes, “Most small business owners love what they do and want to focus on their work, instead of wasting time chasing payments. They also know that watching cash flow is not something that is done in a 9-5 window, but something they do 24/7 in real time. The shift to electronic payments through Intuit PaymentNetwork frees up small business owners to do the work they love and monitor cash flow easily and conveniently.”
An Intuit PaymentNetwork account holder is given a customized payment link, which can be used on a website, Facebook, Craigslist, an email, or wherever the business owner decides. IPN allows businesses to use their own logo, colors, and text to allow a professional look that fits into the branding of each business. IPN makes it easy to request, send, and track payments, to set up recurring requests or invoices, as well as offer discounts.
Registered IPN users can link their IPN account straight to their bank account, with no “middle account” involved. This allows payments to be withdrawn from or deposited into their bank account within just one or two days. As mentioned above, there is no monthly, setup, or cancellation fees, simply a flat $0.50 transaction fee. The only exception to this is a 3.25% fee for payments made with credit cards, and the merchant has the option of accepting credit card payments or turning them off.
With Intuit PaymentNetwork, Intuit is offering an effective payment processing solution for small business and nonprofits, that is fast, efficient, affordable, and able to integrate with other Intuit and QuickBooks programs. To find out more, visit www.ipn.intuit.com/