June, 2018

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Charge It, Please


None of us enjoys paying those credit card fees; however, during my 13 years as a home inspector (I’m now retired), we never had any accounts receivable…thanks to credit cards.

Even though we used an answering service, my wife always followed up with a confirmation phone call. During the course of the conversation, she would tell the client to bring a check to the inspection. This helped keep the credit card fees down, but with out-of-town buyers or clients who show up at the inspection without their checkbook, credit cards became a lifesaver. 

What is the best way to use credit cards? To answer this question, I called on Aaron Fuhriman, owner of Guardian Financial, an ASHI affiliate specializing in credit card services.

Q: Are all companies charged the same fees from the financial institutions? 

A: Yes, all credit card processors have the same costs from Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express. The cost is called “Interchange,” and no matter what, it is the same for everyone, no exceptions. What is charged to you, the home inspector, above and beyond Interchange, can vary dramatically, however. Just because all processors cost the same doesn’t mean that they all charge the same fees. It’s worth it for you to shop around and make sure you are getting the best deal possible.

Q: Will offering credit card payments help increase the number of inspections? 

A: Absolutely. Your referral partners know whether or not you accept credit cards. When clients ask them if they can pay for the home inspection with a credit card, they are less likely to send those clients to you if you don’t take credit cards. Statistically, the majority of millennials do not have and do not use checks. Simply adding the ability to accept credit cards to your business and letting your referral partners know it is an option can increase the number of inspections you get. 

Q: Is it true people spend more money when they use a credit card than when they use a check?

A: On average, people spend 17% more when they pay with a credit card. That is true at a clothing store, at a restaurant and even when tipping. It can be true for home inspections as well. Although accepting credit cards will not increase how much you get for your home inspection, it will increase the percentage of ancillary services that you sell per inspection. So, if you offer add-on services like radon testing, mold inspections or pool inspections, and if you make sure that you tell your customers right upfront that you accept credit cards, you will see your average price per inspection go up.

Q: Are there devices that accept both a “swipe” and a “chip”?

A: Yes, you can get mobile card readers that will accept both the swiped transaction and a chip card. They will interact with a mobile app on your phone or tablet. When you sign up with Guardian, we give you a mobile card reader for free, so there is no need to purchase any additional devices or software.

Q: What are the typical costs associated with using a credit card?

A: There are two types of accounts available to you: ones that have higher percentages and no monthly fees, and accounts that have lower percentages and monthly fees. If you are not doing a lot of volume (four inspections a month on credit card or less), then you want the first type of account with no monthly fees, even though the percentages charged are a bit higher. If you are being paid with credit cards for more than four inspections a month, then you want the accounts that have the lower percentages even though there are monthly fees. On an account with no monthly fees, you typically pay around 2.75% for swiped transactions and 3.5% for keyed-in transactions. On an account with monthly fees, you typically have approximately $10 in monthly fees, as well as a minimum. However, the percentage you pay is approximately 1.3% to 1.9% for swiped cards, and 2.2% to 2.9% for keyed transactions. 

Q: What advantages do ASHI members have when using Guardian versus another provider?

A: I think the number one advantage you get, even more so than the fact that we guarantee the lowest rates, is that all we do is work with home inspectors. That is 100% of our business. This gives you a couple of advantages. 

First, we work with most home inspection software programs and can help you integrate your processing with your inspection software (including ISN, Home Gauge, Horizon, Spectora, Nxt Inspekt, Home Inspector Pro, InspectCheck, Home Hub Zone and many more). 

Second, because we exclusively work with home inspectors, you have leverage. We know that the home inspection community is a tight-knit group of men and women, which means we have a vested interest in making sure that every inspector has a good experience with Guardian. On top of that, we never lock you into a contract, we don’t have any startup costs and, like I said before, we guarantee the lowest rates.

Q: How can our members learn more about your services? 

A: Please give me a call at 1-800-608-7363 or visit our website at www.smallbizguardian.com. Thank you!

“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.” —Will Rogers