Matrimonial Services Merchant Accounts:
Voted the #1 High Risk Merchant Account Provider for two year’s running, Soar Payments is focused on providing comprehensive merchant accounts for our clients.
Our goal is to be the undisputed best merchant account provider for bridal services, wedding chapels, minister ordination services, custom cakes, flower arrangements and any other marriage service related business. To achieve that, we have to address the unique payment needs of matrimonial services companies. For the marriage and ordination industries, we’ve created the below “marriage services card processing cheat sheet”. It’s designed to give minister ordination, bridal services, wedding chapel and other marriage services a single place to obtain all the information they will need to obtain an online marriage merchant account and have long term success when accepting debit and credit card payments.
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A Note From Our CEO
Adam CarlsonSoar Payments, CEO
It’s a great time to be in the marriage services industry.
At least that’s what one of our ordination services clients has told me recently. With more and more people opting for ordination services outside of a traditional church, his business is growing 5% per quarter.
OK, maybe it’s not that good across the entire marriage services industry, after all there’s still a lot that can go wrong, particularly with payments with your business. Things like:
- Getting approved for a merchant account in the first place.
- Making sure you don’t get blindsided by payment fraud.
- Managing chargebacks so you don’t get shut down.
The good news, is that all of these issues can be solved. It took me about 8 hours of research to put together this “matrimonial services merchant account cheat sheet” for business owners in the minister ordination, bridal services, wedding chapel and other marriage services businesses to help you navigate these pitfalls.
It’s my sincere hope that you find this article helpful (because I’ve put a lot of work in it)… and if you need help with marriage services credit card processing for your company, I’d love to help you with that too.
P.S. If you own a matrimonial services company, and want affordable and reliable credit card processing we can help you (in fact, marriage services businesses are one of our specialties). Click here to begin a free online application.
September 12, 2016
MARRIAGE SERVICES INDUSTRY CATEGORIES:
SIC Code: There are a broad array of SIC codes used by businesses in the marriage services industry, but in general, most fall into one of the following SIC codes:
- 7299: Miscellaneous Personal Services, not elsewhere classified – marriage bureaus, wedding chapels
- 2335: Women’s, Misses’, and Juniors’ Dresses Wedding Dresses, Wedding Gowns
- 5621: Women’s Clothing Stores Includes Bridal shops, except custom-retail)
- 7299: Miscellaneous Personal Services, Not Elsewhere Classified Includes Wedding Gown Rental, Wedding Planning, and other custom services like flower arrangements
- 5812: Eating Establishments Includes Caterers and wedding cakes
- 8661: Religious Organizations Includes wedding officiants, wedding ministers, and minister ordination services
See the entire list of SIC codes here.
NAICS Code: Marriage services related businesses generally use one of the following NAICS codes:
- 624190: Other Individual and Family Services Marriage Counselors, Consultants
- 315233: Women’s and Girls’ Cut and Sew Dress Manufacturing includes Wedding Gowns, Bridal Dresses, Wedding Gowns
- 722320: Caterers Wedding caterers
- 315212: Wedding dresses contractors Custom wedding dress designers / retailers
- 448190: Other Clothing Stores Includes Bridal gown shops -except custom
- 812990: All Other Personal Services Includes wedding Ordination Services, Wedding Planning and other wedding related services
- 813110: Religious Organizations Ordained Wedding Officiants, wedding chapels, celebrant ordination services
There are unfortunately so many NAICS codes that apply to the marriage services industry that it’s difficult to provide a single list that covers every matrimonial related business. That said, the above list captures most businesses in the industry.
See the entire list of NAICS codes here.
Getting a Marriage Services Merchant Account
How do I get an online marriage services merchant account?
Let’s start with the obvious, if you’re ready to get started, just apply now.
Getting a merchant account for a bridal services, wedding chapel, minister ordination company, or other marriage service related business seems like it should be easy. And if you’ve gone to PayPal or your local business bank, the first thing they told you was… ‘no problem’. Unfortunately, if you’re reading this you know that it’s not actually that simple. That’s because the marriage services industry is considered high risk, unfortunately, most low risk credit card processors, particularly their salespeople don’t know this. When your merchant account application goes to underwriting, however, you’re likely to be declined due to ‘excessive risk’ or ‘industry type’ or something like that. And in the case of PayPal, you’re likely to have your merchant account terminated (and perhaps most unfortunately some of your funds frozen) after a couple of months of successful credit card processing when they get around to actually reviewing your account.
So, you’ll end up having to educate yourself a bit that you’re considered a ‘high risk business’ which means you need ‘high risk credit card processing’. The rest of this article will explain what exactly that means in the context of a matrimonial services business, but there are a number of high risk merchant account providers that accept marriage services businesses (like us).
When you do apply for a matrimonial services merchant account, you’ll typically need to provide a copy of the owner’s drivers license or ID, a voided company check, and any previous business credit card processing history. Once you’ve submitted everything, your application will be reviewed by an underwriter, and once approved, you’ll be able to accept debit and credit cards in a retail, eCommerce or over the phone.
How do I find a high risk matrimonial services merchant account provider?
The quickest answer is to ask other people in your industry you they are using for credit card processing, and whether they’re happy. But if you’re new to the matrimonial services industry, you can just do a quick Google search and call up a few companies that say that they provide ‘matrimonial services merchant accounts’ or whatever your particular niche is.
Why is the marriage services industry considered ‘high risk’?
The term ‘high risk’, for individuals outside the credit card processing world, connotes images of fraudulent or scammy businesses. In reality, however, it simply means that matrimonial services have a higher risk of chargebacks and financial loss for the credit card processor than most other businesses. The reasons matrimonial services are considered high risk from a merchant services provider include:
- Long Time Delay Between Billing and Delivery: A credit card processor’s biggest fear with most businesses is chargebacks that the business does not cover (and thus the credit card processor is liable). With matrimonial services, often payment is taken weeks or months before the service or product is delivered. That means that if the marriage services business suddenly stops fulfilling orders or providing quality services, or goes out of business, there are potentially months worth of customers who have paid for their product or service and who won’t receive it. When they don’t they’ll likely file a chargeback dispute, and if the matrimonial services business can’t cover the chargeback losses and goes under, the credit card processor will become liable.
- Big Ticket Items A relatively small business with lots of big ticket items is considerably higher risk for the credit card processor than a business that does many small transactions. That’s because chargebacks are unpredictable, and if your business only does 5 large sales a month, and you hit a spate of 3 chargebacks in a month, it’s far more likely to put your business under (and thus the credit card processor is liable) as opposed to a business that does 10,000 small sales a month.Moreover, disgruntled customers aren’t likely to bother with initiating a chargeback in situations where the sale is only for a few dollars. By contrast, you can rest assured that most customers who are dissatisfied with a credit card charge in the hundreds or thousands of dollars will take the time and effort to navigate the chargeback dispute process.
- Custom or Non-Standard Services
Many matrimonial services providers provide a custom service tailored to the couple’s specific needs or desires. That’s of course great, except when it comes time to arbitrating a dispute between the parties. When the product or service provided is standardized, there’s fewer questions about whether it met the quality, quantity and timeliness that the business promised, as opposed to custom services, where there are simply more questions.
- Small Businesses The marriage services industry is dominated by small businesses. That’s great of course, because small businesses are more nimble and provide some of the best customer services at the high end. At the low end, unfortunately, small businesses are often poorly capitalized and may not be run as professionally from a financial perspective, which creates greater financial exposure for their credit card processor.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Does Soar Payments offer high risk matrimonial services merchant accounts?
Yes. Soar Payments is a high risk merchant services provider that specializes in the marriage and matrimonial services industry. Because we work with over a dozen credit card processors and sponsor banks we are able to provide the most comprehensive and affordable credit card processing solutions for matrimonial services businesses.
Applying for a matrimonial services merchant account is simple. Just complete the online application, we’ll then email you a PDF copy of the application proposal with all pricing and terms for your review and signature. We will also integrate fraud protection and a chargeback management platform, enable chargeback alerts, and assist you in integrating your payment gateway with whatever other software you’re company is running (CRM, shopping cart, etc.). In sum, we try to make the process as simple as possible.
What is an underwriter looking for when reviewing my wedding services merchant account application?
Just because a high risk credit card processor accepts marriage services business, doesn’t mean they accept all businesses in this vertical. The reason, is that every matrimonial services business is individually reviewed by an underwriter, who determines whether the business is a good risk for the credit card processor.
For matrimonial services businesses in particular, the underwriter is looking for:
- Financial Stability A credit card processor is concerned about the chances that the matrimonial services business will go under or otherwise be unable to pay for any chargebacks that arise. So they’ll be looking for a healthy business bank balance that doesn’t dip into the negative regularly.
- Owner Credit This is a relative term, but a business owner with decent personal credit is more likely to run his / her business in a way that satisfies their obligations to customers and their credit card processor. That said, this is but one factor among many.
- Clear Business Model A matrimonial services business with a clear established business model makes the credit card processor more confident that they know what they’re doing and will deliver their services to customers satisfactorily. If the business has a track record of serving happy customers, particularly evidenced through previous credit card processing statements, this is ideal.
In summary, the underwriter examining your matrimonial services business will be looking to confirm that your business is legally operating, well organized, well funded, well managed, and operating well. The better your merchant services application presents your company in this light, the more likely your business will get approved by the underwriter, and with better pricing and terms (e.g. a lower rolling reserve, a faster funding timeline, a higher monthly processing cap, etc.)
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Question? Ask Away. We’re Ready to Help.
If you’ve got a question about a payment gateway, chargeback management tool, merchant account or anything else related to growing a matrimonial services based business, and want some advice, shoot me your question directly: AdamCarlson@soarpay.com.
Ready to Get Started?
Ready to start accepting payments at your marriage services business, Click here to begin a free online application.
Everything a Matrimonial Services Company Needs to Know About Chargebacks
Marriage services businesses, whether they be bridal services, wedding chapels, minister ordination services, custom bakeries, wedding florists, wedding planners or consultants or any other marriage service related business are at risk of incurring chargebacks. Excessive or unmanaged chargebacks are the #1 reason that matrimonial services businesses have their merchant accounts terminated, therefore, it’s important to understand the basics of the chargeback dispute process, and what you as a business owner can do to manage chargebacks.
What is a Chargeback?
Put simply, a chargeback is when one of your customers calls their credit card issuing company and disputes your company’s charge on their credit card. They can dispute a charge for a number of reasons, including that they were double billed, that the service you provided wasn’t as promised, that they never authorized the charge, that they never received the service or didn’t receive it timely, etc. No matter why the customer disputes it, once they do, the chargeback dispute process has started. Their credit card issuer will then notify your credit card processor, who will pull the funds in question from your bank account and they’ll be held in escrow until the dispute is resolved. If you win, you get the money returned to you. If you lose, the disgruntled customer keeps the money.
The chargeback process seems straightforward, why do I need to worry about it?
There are two reasons. The first is that customers can initiate a chargeback for illegitimate reasons. For example, maybe they’re overwhelmed with bills and even though they approved your bill initially, now just don’t want to pay. You have to fight even completely illegitimate chargebacks, otherwise you’ll lose your revenue on the sale. The second reason, is that once you get into the chargeback dispute process you’ll realize that fighting chargebacks is an incredibly technical process that requires that you use the correct font, size of paper, etc. when presenting your case. If you don’t, you can lose on a technicality. And because the system is set up to favor the customer, you often will.
How to Calculate a Chargeback Ratio?
The primary reason a marriage service company has their merchant account terminated is for excessive chargebacks. Thus, it’s important that you know what your credit card processor’s chargeback thresholds are, and that you stay below them.
Unfortunately, there’s no single formula for determining the acceptable chargeback ratio. That’s because some credit card processors only count chargebacks that you lose, whereas others count all chargeback disputes regardless of whether won or lost. Another complicating factor is that some credit card processors use transaction count to determine your company’s chargeback ratio, whereas others use total dollar amount. And finally, the actual percentage that is permissible for a matrimonial services business varies from one credit card processor to another. For example, many low risk credit card processors only permit a 1% chargeback ratio, whereas high risk credit card processors might permit a 2-3% chargeback ratio. And finally, an offshore merchant account might have an even higher threshold.
So, to make this information useful for your wedding services business, it’s important at the outset to discuss with your merchant account provider how your particular chargeback ratio will be calculated.
Why does a credit card processor care what my chargeback ratio is?
Among other reasons, your credit card processor’s primary financial risk is that your business will sell a lot of products or services and then either not fulfill the orders, or poorly fulfill the orders. That will cause customers to initiate chargebacks, that your business will be unable to pay for, leading to financial risk for the credit card processor.
A wedding services credit card processor can’t tell how good your products or customer service is. They can however see chargebacks. So they use chargebacks as an early indicator that there is some issue with your business that poses increased financial risk to the credit card processor. Thus, they will terminate a marriage services business if their chargebacks exceed their acceptable threshold.
How do I keep my chargeback ratio low?
Many marriage services businesses have almost no chargebacks that occur. The difference between a wedding related business that has lots of chargebacks and one that has almost none is often the result of making relatively subtle changes to the business model and operations. Here are a few ways to successfully keep your wedding industry business’ chargeback ratio low:
- Disclose Everything:
Having hidden charges or undisclosed ‘gotchas’ can make the front-end sales process easier, but it makes dealing with chargebacks a nightmare. Make sure that your customer is presented with the full terms and conditions of the product or service that you are providing. In face to face transactions that means getting them to sign an agreement, and in eCommerce that means making your terms and conditions abundantly clear and ideally having the customer acknowledge them before making a purchase.
- Integrate Customer Dispute Alerts:
The chargeback process is a nightmare for small business owners. It’s both timely and expensive to navigate, and if you don’t have experts handling it for you, you often lose even illegitimate chargebacks. Chargeback Alerts, are email alerts that give you, the business owner, a 24-72 hour window in which you can just refund the customer and walk away from the sale and avoid the chargeback process. This obviously isn’t a perfect solution because it means you’ve given the customer a full refund, but in situations where you haven’t yet fulfilled the service, avoiding a problem customer and the chargeback system is often preferable. Note: chargeback alerts aren’t foolproof. They only catch approximately 30-40% of customer initiated chargeback disputes. But it’s certainly better than nothing.
At Soar Payments, chargeback alerts are automatically integrated into our high risk payment gateway, so unless you don’t want to receive them, you’ll get them automatically.
- Teach customer service staff to offer full refunds:
Your wedding services business has hard costs in every sale, whether that’s advertising, cost of goods sold, labor, etc. And consequently, many matrimonial services businesses are reticent to offer full refunds. But if you can train staff to start with offering a full refund to disgruntled customers and then once the customer has received their refund, offer to provide a revised service with a revised invoice, you’ll avoid a lot of chargebacks. That’s for two reasons: (1) truly dissatisfied customers will take their refund and walk away, and they were going to issue a chargeback anyway, so you’re better off, (2) customers that are dissatisfied need a reset, both from the customer and the company’s perspective. This gives you the opportunity to reset expectations, make your agreement abundantly clear (so as to avoid a conflict in the future) and by offering a full refund and the opportunity but not obligation to re-order to dramatically undermine the customer’s ability to say that your business is a scam or ripoff during any future chargeback dispute that might arise.
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Need Wedding Business Merchant Services?
We’ve Got You Covered.
Soar Payments provides ACH, debit and credit card processing services to bridal services, wedding chapels, minister ordination services, custom bakeries, wedding florists, wedding planners, consultants or any other marriage service related business, ranging from new startups to businesses processing millions of dollars a month. So when you’re ready, we’re ready.