If you want a taco at the 13-location Mexican food chain Dos Toros in New York City, you better bring your credit card. The same goes for the Dig Inn — a chain of locally farm sourced restaurants. And for salad eatery Sweetgreen, lunch-spot Two Forks, and coffee shop Bluestone Lane. As reported by The New York Times, these small businesses — and many others in town — don’t accept cash anymore.
In today’s world of PayPal, bitcoin, credit cards, and mobile payment apps for small businesses, cash is slowly but surely becoming a questionable substance. “If you have exact change, we’ll take it,” an employee at a Greenwich Village restaurant said in the article. “We give it to the manager and he puts it in a safe. Because we don’t have a register.”
Should You Accept Cash or Credit Cards? Or Both?
The reasons are simple: Cash transactions take longer than a quick credit card swipe or a mobile phone tap. Credit and debit card data is better analyzed for margins, sales trends, and marketing, once gathered. Cash accounting takes management away from watching operations. With less cash floating around, the safety and security for employees is improved. But most of all — customers are driving the demand for it.
I often walk around with no bills at all because paying with a credit card is so much easier and faster.
In fact, I avoid stores and restaurants that stick to their old-school ways and only accept cash. This type of practice is becoming a thing of the past. Customers don’t like having to be the ones to make the extra effort to get cash (or paying fees at the ATM that is conveniently located in the store). We don’t buy into the “avoiding credit card fees” argument (are we really seeing that reflected in lower prices?). We sometimes wonder whether all that cash is being reported to the IRS and what exactly that tells us about the ethics of the proprietor.
So is cash in or out? Should you only accept credit cards or only accept cash? What’s the answer?
Cash or Credit? The Answer Comes Down to What Your Customers Prefer
If your research tells you that a significant number of them prefer using cash, then don’t be a dummy and don’t make life more difficult for them. If, like all these places in New York City, you’re finding that more and more of your customers are eschewing cash for some other type of payment, then it’s your job to make sure they have the easiest way possible to pay for your products and services.
Don’t want to pay the additional credit card fees? Then bake in the costs. Trust me — assuming a 2.5% transaction fee, your customers will still buy your delicious chicken marsala for $28.70 instead of $28.00. Concerned about the disruption of the new equipment? Don’t be — modern point-of-sale systems are easy to set up, relatively inexpensive, mostly secure, and essential to making transactions fast. Prefer to hide your revenues from the IRS? Well, I’m not going to help you out on that one.
So, maybe it’s not time for you to stop accepting cash altogether, but it is time to recognize that today’s payment landscape is rapidly changing and you have to change with it. Gone are the days of only accepting cash. Now, the trend has turned 180 degrees. Don’t fight this change — embrace it. Your customers won’t just be appreciative. They’ll expect it of you.
Gene Marks is small business owner. He has authored multiple books for small business owners, and is a featured small business columnist in many national online publications. He is co-host of the Small Biz Ahead Podcast.