Setting clients up with merchant accounts & gateways
I've been running my freelance web design business for a little over a year now. Until now, any clients of mine that wanted to sell on their websites have wanted to integrate PayPal or Google Checkout to their sites, OR, already have a cart/merchant account/gateway and just want a redesign so I'm just using the merchant account & gateway they already use and plug it in to an existing or new cart. I'm now catering to more established businesses that may or may not already have a merchant account for their brick & mortar stores. These clients do not want PayPal, they want full fledged e-commerce.
What I'm asking here of fellow freelancers/web business owners is this: when a client comes to you wanting a new online store set up from scratch, and they do not have a payment gateway (and often, not even a merchant account), and they want you to set them up, how do you handle it? The client has to be the one to apply for the account and the gateway, but they have no idea how to go about doing this. I don't even have a merchant account myself for my business yet so I have not gone through the process myself. I CAN implement gateways and merchant accounts if established, that I have done; my question is specifically regarding the customers who don't already have these things and are asking me to help them get it.
How do you all handle this with your clients? Just point them to a merchant account site and tell them to apply - or do you provide more hand-holding? Any other advice...?
The merchant account provider will usually do the set-up for a fee. Set-up fees can usually go as high as a hundred dollars and down to 0, if you're lucky.
Being the designer, it will be natural for the client to ask you for recommendations. You have two choices here. First, you can go the traditional route and recommend the big boys (big banks), or you can direct your client to a few providers that you are familiar with. The downside to this is, if you do a recommendation and the client has a bad experience, it will reflect on you.
Merchant account industry standards are pretty much straightforward. Fees, fees and more fees. when your client signs up with a merchant account, they will have to pay for the service. This means they will be losing money. They should look for a provider with minimal fees and low transaction rates.
I recommend using Social Business Bank as a measuring stick against other providers. They don't ask you to pay much in fees and they don't charge for the setup. The transaction fees are also 50% lower than industry standards.