Productivity Retailing Starting a Business

A Simple, Inexpensive Way to Take Credit Card Payments in Your Business

aking credit card payments

Are you a small business owner or start up who would like to be able to take credit card payments from customers/clients?

This used to involve a fair degree of expense because you would have to pay an ongoing fee for a dedicated phone line, for the credit card machine itself, perhaps for installation, and your ongoing transaction fees.

Well, that’s not necessary anymore as I discovered recently.

I wanted to be able to take credit card payments in my solicitor’s practice in Enfield as a service to my clients. However, I was concerned about the cost of providing this service and, therefore, did a little shopping around.

I came across a solution from an Irish start up: sum up.

The tiny card reader I needed to buy from them cost 79 euros and this was a one off payment. The only ongoing fee I would incur would be the commission fee per transaction.

I had to download an app to my phone or iPad. Once I did this, and setting up was easy, I could simply enter the amount I wanted to charge on my phone, insert the client’s credit card into the little card reader, ensure bluetooth was enabled on my phone to allow it to connect to the reader, insert the card in the reader, give it to the client who entered his pin, and the job was a good one.

So far, after about 3 weeks, I have had no problems whatsoever with it and would strongly recommend it as an excellent cost-effective option for taking credit cards.

You can check out sum up here.

Retailing Starting a Business

3 Stunningly Effective, Free Ways to Promote You or Your Business

Westminster Abbey

I attended Evensong in Westminster Abbey last week.

Evensong has been sung, celebrated and offered up in worship on the site of Westminster Abbey for over 1,000 years, originally by the Benedictine monks who came to the site in the tenth century.

For me, though, it was a free way to get into Westminster Abbey as religious services don’t have an entry fee-the regular visitor entry fee is £20.

Lest you think I am a complete cheapskate I did go back some days later, bought a ticket and did the tour myself. And I would strongly recommend it.

I wondered afterwards, though, would I have bought the ticket had I not got in free in the first instance.

And I also gave some serious thought to things you can do in your business which doesn’t cost you a cent but offer serious return on the small investment of time and/or effort.

I noticed two things in my own business which I did last week, and which are incredibly effective to ensure satisfied, loyal clients/customers.

As I walked back to my office at lunchtime I noticed a client of mine waiting for the lights to change to cross the road. I had drafted wills for her and her husband and a letting agreement for her daughter. I quickened my step and got to her before she crossed the road and asked her had her daughter any difficulty with her new tenant. She was happy to report that there were no problems.

And I think she was also happy that I was concerned enough to make it my business to enquire were things going alright with the new letting.

Now, this isn’t rocket science, but if I had not made it my business to speed up to reach her before she crossed the road we would not have had this pleasant encounter.

And speeding up to meet this lady didn’t cost me a cent.

Are there similar opportunities-cost free ways to impress existing clients or perhaps attract new ones- in your business? Marketing your business doesn’t have to cost a fortune each and every day, you know.

A couple of days later I had a man in the office who was buying a house and had, remarkably, saved the entire price of the house to buy his first property in Ireland.

But he was a bit worried about the other costs such as stamp duty, legal fees, Land Registry fees which might leave things a bit tight for him financially, especially in the early days.

He had tried all the banks but none would lend to him even though he was in the same job for nearly 10 years and had managed to save well over €100,000 in that time.

So, I picked up the phone and explained the situation to a bank manager contact of mine who indicated she would be only too happy to meet this man the next day. My potential client was delighted and, again, this action of mine did not cost a cent and only took 60 seconds for the phone call.

Another way of promoting yourself or your business, and one which I’m not so good at, is to smile regularly and often at potential clients, particularly when you first meet them.

And it too is completely devoid of any cost.

We all know the huge, positive impact created by service staff who greets us in shops or restaurants or pubs or hotels with a broad, genuine smile.

So, there you have it-three free things to help you grow your business:

  1. Care for your clients/customers, and show empathy
  2. Do a good turn if you can
  3. Smile.

Are there other things you can do in your business which are as cost effective as these?

Think about it, and you will almost certainly find some more to help you grow your business

Retailing Starting a Business

The Death of the Newsagent: Lessons for Retailers

There’s nowhere on the main street in Kinnegad to buy a pint of milk or a newspaper now, you know.

death of newsagency ireland

Not since “Flemings”, the traditional “newsagents”, closed its doors a few months ago.

There was no big announcement, no social media campaign to keep it open.


The doors just weren’t opened the next morning.

And within a fortnight the long established newsagents in Enfield, “Ryans” (formerly “Mulligans”) went the same way.

These shops occupy prime Main Street positions in the centre of Kinnegad and Enfield; and they used to occupy prime positions in their respective communities.

Before the internet, before social media, people used to buy newspapers and magazines.

And the National Lottery only put their Lotto machines into a limited number of outlets in any town. The local newsagent was generally their first choice.

Because the newsagent’s shop could guarantee footfall-plenty of it.

People needed newspapers and milk and cigarettes and pipe tobacco and pipe cleaners and petrol for Zippo lighters.

So, they had a type of monopoly because the newspaper and magazine companies only supplied official, recognised newsagents.

Throw in the Lotto franchise and you soon had farmers coming in, looking you in the eye and solemnly saying: “If only I had a yard of counter…”.

Well the shoe is on the other foot now. Farmers can afford plenty of yards of counter now-but don’t want them.

Now, Tesco, Supervalu, Lidl, Aldi, Centra, Spar, filling stations, and all the others sell newspapers and magazines and lottery tickets and tobacco, and anything else you need.

They almost certainly provide free parking too in a convenient, easy to access location on the outskirts of town; and Tesco allow you to quickly check yourself out, thereby preventing you from slagging anyone about “the yard of counter”.

I started my business life in a convenience store in 1986 and the 1st big job I had to take care of was to get a regular supply of newspapers. The newspaper companies wouldn’t supply because I wasn’t a recognised newsagent, and wasn’t permitted to become one. The paper companies were perfectly happy to have control of distribution through a discrete, controllable network of shops because it was cost effective and allowed them to wield inordinate power.

I used to envy the official newsagent. Yes, I mean real envy.

He was “official” and a “recognised newsagent” and the sales representatives from Independent Newspapers and the Irish Times and Easons and Newspread used to make regular calls to him, see was there anything he needed, and shoot the breeze.

Now? There’s nobody calling to him now. In fact, he’s closed the door, pulled the shutter, and gone home.

He’s discovered now that once lads like me could eventually-shock, horror-get the newspapers directly from the paper companies and his artificial protection was removed, he was in big trouble.

Throw in the typical size of the newsagent’s premises of around 500-1,000 square feet and a transition to a convenience store wasn’t on the cards for a lot of them.

Consider too that their advantageous centre of town location could now become a problem with an increasing number of people having motor cars and needing somewhere to park and the inevitable, inexorable decline of the traditional newsagent isn’t hard to explain.

I’ve always loved retailing and I was born into a family of small retailers. But one thing certain about retail is its competitiveness and ruthlessness.

It’s dog eat dog and the survival of the fittest and requires a great degree of flexibility, adaptability, and willingness to change or wither and die.

Unfortunately further closures of newsagents like Flemings in Kinnegad and Ryans in Enfield are as certain as night following day.

Because what they did, their franchise, is now being done by convenience stores, supermarkets, and filling stations.

If you’re in retailing, or thinking about getting into it, you should spend some time thinking about how quickly and substantially retailing can change, and think too about a plan B or C.

Because you don’t want to go the same way of the newsagency.