Two good friends of mine own a sandwich shop.  I used to eat there.  But they started to charge extra for a slice of cheese, and then for tomato.  Instead of offering a choice of chips with a sandwich, they wanted an extra quarter for a “premium brand” in place of their standard brand.  Finally, they began to charge for a cup of ice for those who simply wanted water with their sandwich.  Really?

It’s a sandwich shop!  Since when do you have to pay extra for cheese or tomato on a sandwich?  When did it stop being a courtesy to provide a cup of ice to your patrons?  When did it become good business practice to nickel and dime your customers?

As small business owners, we must compute just how much it costs to provide any given service, and factor in our margin of profit.  And, if we’re often paid by credit cards, it’s important to account for the impact that the discount fee has on profitability as well.

My good friends at Care Credit emphasize the importance of offering patients financial options…. options to help them say “yes” to treatment!  And yet, many practitioners refuse to accept American Express or Discover because the discount fee is higher than that for MasterCard or Visa!  Really?

Your patient is ready to say “yes” to $2,200 worth of treatment, but you don’t accept their credit card of choice because it will cost you an extra $22?  Can you not adjust your fee schedule to compensate for that extra one per cent?

Earlier this year, I elected not to move forward with a desired project because the contractor I wished to hire demanded an extra five per cent if I used ANY credit card to pay him.  Maybe he and his services are in such demand that he can afford to lose business by throwing up barriers which kill the deal.  I don’t know.

What I do know, however, is that in today’s challenging economy, small business owners that find ways to “nickel and dime” potential clients, help them say “no” instead of “yes…..”


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Dr. Kerr

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