Point of Sale

mPOS – Not Just For Retail Anymore

Beyond retail, businesses have found mPOS to be compelling technology that allows them to run better and even fuel growth. In this month’s mPOS Tracker™, featuring five new players and 12 updated player profiles, we talk with a general contractor — someone in a decidedly offline business — and get a snapshot of opportunities, both intentional and unintentional, that the adoption of emerging technology can open the door to.

It all changed for Ken Miller when he took the plunge on a solution that would allow him to easily bill and receive funds from his snowbird clients up north during the offseason. Miller, who’s a general contractor and the owner-operator of The Screen Depot, based out of Boynton Beach, Florida, found dealing with out-of-state client payments to be a hassle for both parties.

There were all the different merchant services’ fees, with every card taking a different cut, “so it made it much more difficult for us to be able to bid a job properly,” Miller said. “First not knowing whether they were going to use a credit card and then, which card they might end up using.”

Then, three years ago, Miller, who admits to being cautious when it comes to new ventures and technology, took a leap of faith per his millennial son’s recommendation.

“I’m not willing to stick my foot in the door without really knowing where I’m going to go,” he said.

What Miller — who specializes in the installation of patios, decks, sunrooms, and hurricane windows — enjoyed after switching to mPOS was convenience and savings, he said. He used the service to produce e-Invoices and use the e-card reader on his iPhone.

Miller chose Square’s mPOS solution and said that in addition to giving him near immediate access to funds, his customers got benefits, as well. 

“They can use a credit card to get flyer miles and gift points, but on the same token get the protection through Square.” One of the things that Square offered Miller was the ability for funds to be held until they’re completely satisfied with his work.

What Miller didn’t foresee when he joined the mPOS bandwagon was how much of a springboard it would be to growing his business.  

“It’s helped us grow exponentially because of being able to work for people who are not in state,” he said. mPOS allows him to send invoices as work is being completed and, in turn, to receive payments. But Miller is one of the SMBs who also took advantage of the Square Capital program which gave him access to working capital at more favorable terms. Those loans are a single-fee based loan – a flat fee essentially that is added to the amount of funds loaned to the business. Payments are then deducted from the merchant account. For Miller, access to the money was only one part of its appeal. “Since the payments are taken from your merchant account and based on a percent of sales, when you have a slow month, the percent stays the same but the amount doesn’t. You don’t have to worry about still keeping up with a big payment. But then, when you have a very big month, you can pay that off pretty quickly.”

For many SMBs, Miller explained that it’s been the access to working capital that’s allowed him to seek larger contracts that would have previously been out of his range without the newfound cash flow. Jobs don’t pay up front, he said, so the cash flow allows him to buy the materials he needs for a large job and then get paid as he completes phases of the job. “And then, as we get paid from the consumer, we pay Square off,” he said. “It’s allowed us to eliminate debt at a high interest rate and consolidate into one payment.”

Six months ago, Miller said, he took out an $83,000 loan and he has paid it down to $35,000. “I don’t think you could’ve gotten a loan from a bank for anything of that nature,” he said, adding, “I couldn’t – and I’ve been in business for 20 years.” He said when this loan is paid off, he plans to take out another loan from Square to upgrade his trucks and tools and maybe even buy his own building instead of renting. “It’s really helping small businesses when both banks and even government agencies won’t even talk to you,” he said.

In addition to considering another loan, Miller said he is also looking into having clients book appointments and hold them with a credit card through mPOS.

By bringing the online world, via mobile, to his decidedly offline, non-retail business, Miller has been able to grow it faster than he would have imagined just three years ago. mPOS has made the difference. 



Featured PYMNTS Study: 

With eyes on lowering costs to improving cash flow, 85 percent of U.S. firms plan to make real-time payments integral to their operations within three years. However, some firms still feel technical barriers stand in the way. In the January 2020 Making Real-Time Payments A Reality Study, PYMNTS surveyed more than 500 financial executives to examine what it will take to channel RTP interest into real-world adoption. Here’s what we learned.