In recent years, ambulatory surgery centers have played a transformative role in the outpatient care experience. With over 6,000 centers currently in operation throughout the United States, ambulatory surgery centers are quickly becoming the preferred alternative to inpatient surgical procedures.
The continued success of the average ASC depends not only on the level of care it provides to its patients, but also its ability to remain profitable by controlling costs, especially in areas that seem insignificant. Payment processing is one area that's constantly overlooked by administrators seeking reductions in operating costs.
How Much are Credit Cards Costing Your Business?
Merchant services providers are the indispensable middle man between ASC management that accept credit card payments and patients who use them. Each time an ASC accepts a credit card, debit card or electronic check payment, the merchant service providers charge various fees for processing those payments. Unfortunately, there can be numerous fees tied to credit card transactions and the fee structures themselves are often unnecessarily complex.
These fees are often broken down into fixed fees (such as interchange rates and fees) and variable fees (such as merchant service fees and service charges). Whereas the former may prove difficult to negotiate with payment processors, the latter often proves surprisingly flexible. This is where you can possibly improve your ASC's bottom line by negotiating a revamped structure with more favorable fees.
What About Charge Cards?
It's a common belief that charge card payments are often more expensive for businesses to have processed than ordinary credit and debit cards, which is why many businesses often refuse to accept them. At one point, charge card transaction fees were double the average cost for a typical credit card.
While acceptance fees for charge cards are still slightly higher than average when compared to common credit and debit cards, today's charge card companies are more flexible when it comes to setting their rates. Merchant services providers also have more leeway in setting charge card rates, making it possible for smaller ASCs to negotiate more favorable rates. Depending on the size of your ASC, charge card transaction fees can be competitive when compared to other major credit cards.
Changing Processes to Avoid Extra Fees
It may not be just the fees themselves that are robbing your ASC of additional revenue. Additional fees are often incurred for organizational habits and mistakes that could easily be avoided:
- Some payment methods require an address and zip code in order to receive the lowest possible fees. If your point of sale system (whether online or on-site) isn't set up to collect this information, you may find your company needlessly paying additional fees.
- Multiple card swipes can trigger additional fees, in many cases. Using reliable card swiping equipment can help reduce multiple card swipe instances and, in turn, reduce costs related to fees in this area.
- Inputting credit card information instead of swiping the card could also trigger additional fees. In addition to negotiating a more favorable fee structure with merchant services providers, those tasked with initiating payment transactions should also be aware of potential cost-saving actions they could perform to prevent unnecessary expenses.
Keeping Things Current
Another area of unintentional waste involves the validity of merchant services contracts. Contracts do expire and when they do, merchant services providers can easily modify them to include disadvantageous changes in the current fee structure.
It's crucial to stay on top on your current merchant services contract, as well as any ongoing changes in the fee structure. If you're nearing the end of your contract, be prepared to negotiate for better terms or consider a more affordable payment processor.