It’s not uncommon for food and beverage businesses to still have customers paying by offline methods, like cheque. While much of the rest of the world has moved on to embracing online payment methods, food and beverage lags behind. Why is that?

It can be nerve-wracking or difficult to convert customers to online payment methods, especially if you have a long-standing relationship with them that’s based on cheque or cash payments. Many business owners fear rocking the boat and losing a customer altogether. 

We love that the food and beverage industry still maintains a sense of “doing things the old fashioned way” where relationship building is paramount. But with that said, there’s definitely room to tactfully introduce technology–especially if it will improve the customer experience.

While keeping customers happy is the top priority, we believe there’s a way to do what’s best for both parties: move payments online.

Not only do online payments unlock value for you as a business owner, but they do have real benefits for your customers, too. In this blog, we’ll discuss a few reasons why it’s worth the effort to move your customers’ payments online and provide you tools to take steps towards persuading your customers to move to digital payment methods.

Why it’s worth the effort to encourage customers to switch from cheque to digital payments

If you’re still not sold on the importance of moving customers to online payments, read on to discover three key reasons. 

Cheques can get lost in the mail

Paying through cheque (or cash) has a higher risk of being lost or stolen. Once a cheque is cut by your customer, many things could go wrong between then and its deposit into your bank account. 

  • The cheque could get lost in the mail. 
  • The cheque could get intercepted, forged, and deposited into a fraudster’s account. 
  • The cheque could bounce because the customer has insufficient funds.

All of the above would result in you not getting paid on time or at all. Why deal with the uncertainty?

Cheques lack visibility into payment status

When a customer pays with a cheque, you’re flying blind. Everything that happens between when you issue an invoice and when the cheque arrives is a mystery. This can make it incredibly difficult to identify issues early and anticipate when a customer may pay late or not pay at all, giving you less control over your Days Sales Outstanding

Cheques only allow for manual payment processing

If you’re looking to improve business operations and leverage automation to make your accounts receivable more efficient, you need to bring payments online. As long as you’re accepting offline payment methods like cheques, you’ll always need a significant amount of human intervention to process the payment. 

Someone will physically need to receive the cheque, deposit it, and update and reconcile accounting systems. This means that your accounting team’s productivity will be limited. As you scale your business, your accounting costs will also scale.

On the other hand, moving payments online helps you do more work in less time. You can automatically sync payment data to your accounting systems, automatically reconcile, and pull payments on scheduled dates so you waste less time chasing them down. 

Tactics for encouraging customers to switch from Cheque to Online Payments

All of those tangible benefits are great, but how do you actually get your customers from point A (cheque) to point B (credit or EFT)? We’ve worked with a lot of business owners and operators going through this process and from conversations, we’ve discovered some great strategies that have worked for real businesses.

Offer a discount incentive to encourage the switch

You know what they say, money talks. One of the most efficient ways to convince customers to make the switch is to offer a financial incentive, such as a small discount on their bill for a few months. Now, before we lose you, hear us out. Getting payments online can measurably improve profits in the long run, providing great ROI on the small loss for providing the discount to switch. 

Being able to pull payments directly from customers significantly limits late payments. This means money is in your bank account longer, potentially earning more interest or going to work within your business to help you grow.

Additionally, accounts receivable automation could offer big savings in terms of labour costs. 

Highlight the potential accounts payable process improvements

Online payments aren’t just beneficial for you as the distributor, they are also helpful to your customers. 

On the other side of the coin, your customers likely spend hours a week on their accounts payable. By automating their payments on a schedule, they don’t need to worry about paying you on time or at all. They can rest assured knowing the payment will be taken on the agreed-upon date. 

Additionally, they will have access to up-to-date digital records of outstanding invoices and bills paid. Emphasizing these benefits for your customers’ accounts payable process could help convince them to switch and position you as a partner in their business’ success.

Emphasize the peace of mind benefits of digital payments

And just like how it’s less risky to have payments being processed online, it’s even more secure for your customers. They don’t have to worry about cheques being lost in the mail or even intercepted and having money stolen from them. Digital payments help your customers know that when they pay you, it’s going directly to you safely. Explaining this can also help build a case for why they should make the switch.

How The Butcher Shoppe eliminated manual payment processing

If it feels like an uphill battle, rest assured other leaders in this space have carved a path. And you can do it too! The Butcher Shoppe, one of the largest meat distributors in Ontario, successfully switched their customers to digital payment methods after years of doing things the old-school way.

Stacey Weisberg, President of The Butcher Shoppe said, “I came into a world and an industry that was, respectfully, very antiquated, where many things are still done with pencil and paper. Meat, fish, fruit and vegetable, dairy, and cheese wholesalers are still very much old school. So I quickly saw a huge opportunity to adapt our business to a changing world, grow our brand and make a mark.”

After working with Notch, The Butcher Shoppe experienced huge improvements in its AR efforts. 

“Using Notch has been a phenomenal change for us and it has freed up an unbelievable amount of time,” says Stacey. “I would advocate for this technology to anyone in our industry who is still putting pen to paper. While we still do business the old-fashioned way, we’re using technology to help us do our jobs quicker and less administratively.”

Read more about The Butcher Shoppe’s success in introducing online payments and accounts receivable automation here.

Learn more about how to Streamline Your AR: 6 Ways to Increase On-Time Payments and Improve Cash Flow. Download the free guide.