No Cash Allowed – Making The Customer Work

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No Cash Allowed – Making The Customer Work

I recently went to get something to drink at a deli after one of my appointments. When I walked up to the counter I saw a very large sign that the employees had made themselves and displayed prominently. The sign was a huge picture of Johnny Cash. In big, black, block letters it said:

"SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESS. USE CASH."

I had an immediate negative reaction to the sign. I ordered my drink, but I won't be going back to that deli again.

Why?

Because as I just mentioned in my last post, cash is a pain in the ass. I have hated cash my entire life. The fact that in order to purchase something I have to pull out a piece of paper or a hunk of metal like some soldier in the Roman Empire and hand it to someone in the computerized internet age is ridiculous, and I had that opinion far before there even was an internet.

Yet here was a business not only telling me that they wanted me, the customer, to use cash, but also subtly implying that if I didn't want to use cash, I was some somehow "against small business". Nice.

Why did they want cash? Because they didn't want to use credit cards. Why is that?

I didn't talk to them so I don't know for sure, but I can give you two solid guesses that I would bet money on based on my experience consulting with hundreds of companies over my business career.

The first complaint they would have is that they would be forced to pay a 2% or so charge on every transaction. I have worked with many restaurants and I am simply staggered when I hear this excuse.

Here's a thought...why don't you raise your prices 2%? The amount of new business and increased size per order would more than make up for any actual loss in business due to a mere 2% increase in prices, which frankly is something 95% of your customers base wouldn't even notice. Use credit cards for the convenience of your customers, pay the fee, and raise your prices 2% if you have a problem with it. This isn't rocket surgery.

The second complaint they might have would be something about how credit cards support the Big Evil Banks™. Politically, I agree with them. I can't stand the big corrupt banks nor the big bailouts they're constantly getting from governments all over the world.

However, none of this is your customers' fault. He just wants a cup of coffee. He has nothing to do with those big banks and likely doesn't even work for them. Why are you punishing him by making him use inconvenient cash when he has nothing to do with the problem? I have very strong political opinions myself, but never in a million years would I dream of inconveniencing my customers because of them.

The ills of the world are not my customers fault, and considering the number one purpose of a business is to create and keep customers, doing things to purposely create a worse customer experience because of my own political biases sounds a little odd.

Now if the goal in your business is to make a political statement, and you consider this goal more important than making money, then I guess go ahead. Enjoy going out of business soon. If your customer base happens to overwhelmingly supports what you're doing, that of course is a different story, but that's not what I'm talking about here.

There's nothing wrong with taking a stand, but taking a stand to the detriment of your customer's satisfaction is rarely a good idea.

This article was originally published on December 2, 2012