Payment products can reduce overhead costs for fuel marketers.
Fuel marketers are switching gears to prepare for peak season, and part of that preparation includes closely reviewing contracts, including those for credit card rates.
As the industry goes through its yearly rate review exercise, keep in mind that it’s not only about reducing costs, it’s also about adding simplicity, writes Marci Gagnon of Qualpay. Below, Gagnon describes some payment products that fuel marketers can utilize to streamline back-office operations while reducing payment costs.
Pre-Authorizations—For years the industry has advised against pre-authorizations. New payment products allow for automatic reversals matching the authorized and captured amounts. This keeps fuel marketers in compliance with the card brands while still qualifying them for the best rates. Verify with your payment partner that they have the technology to allow pre-authorizations to qualify for utility pricing. It will save money and ensure prompt payment for new customers or customers with an unknown payment history.
Reconciliation reporting—Reconciling payments is important and a time-consuming task for fuel marketers. Updated payment technology will allow fuel marketers to run settlement reports to track individual payments. That’s right, fuel marketers can run a deposit report to verify what payments have been fully cleared and trace any chargebacks. When evaluating a payment platform, make sure it has the technology to run this type of report, which can easily show every step of a transaction from authorization to settlement into the bank account. These types of reports can be downloaded and/or imported into a software, freeing up office time.
Update expired credit cards—Many fuel customers have set up monthly payments or budget plans. A large percentage of credit cards in subscription plans decline each year because the card information has expired. When this happens, marketers still have to pay for the declined transaction and also need to reach out to the customer for updated card information. Ask about Account Updater. This process will automatically update card data to keep it current. The technology has been around for years and will save back office resources and unnecessary fees.
Don’t overlook the website—Most energy companies have a website that allows customers to post payments or check their balances. Optimizing the website to more effectively accept payments is easy and can drive additional revenue. Start with keeping customers on your website by utilizing embedded technology fields at the checkout. This will display the credit card form in an iFrame entirely on the payment partners servers. The credit card form is fully PCI compliant, without the need to have your customers redirected to another site. By keeping customers on your website, there will be less abandonment and more payments rolling in.
The Rates—In addition to verifying the correct utility pricing, when asking for a rate review make sure your payment provider doesn’t just look at the interchange. If you see any fees such as “club”, “portal” or “security” (outside of PCI) these are hidden costs—and they can add up. Lastly, companies often overlook gateway fees. These are fees that should be evaluated and could provide some savings. In fact, there are companies out there that provide the gateway as part of their solution, removing an entire layer of costs. When evaluating full solutions, make sure they are PCI-certified and that they also have the other tools you need, like recurring billing and ACH.
The energy industry is unique and therefore fuel marketers have very different needs when it comes to accepting payments. With this in mind, take advantage of the tools payment companies offer to reduce operating costs, and help your organization grow from first truck to multiple branches.
Marci Gagnon, vice president of strategic alliances for Qualpay, has been in the payments industry for over 15 years with a concentration on recurring billing and the energy industry. Qualpay provides processing solutions to fuel delivery and service businesses with tools designed to provide real time reconciliation and cost reduction. Gagnon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.qualpay.com/industry/utility-and-energy
Photo of Marci Gagnon courtesy of Qualpay.