Preparing for a Card Payment System
Last month I posted an article about Card Payment Systems and if they are the right choice for your Laundromat. This month I am going to focus on important items you need to consider before converting your machines to insure everything goes smoothly. Having a few installations of different manufacturer’s under my belt I am hoping to convert a few of my trials and tribulations into beneficial information for you. This article will be longer than I generally care to write within the blog. However, Card Payment System installations can be a very involved process. I would not do myself or anyone justice by leaving anything out. Let’s begin shall we…
This can be one of the more confusing parts to a card system. Just about every card system on the market today requires a high speed broadband connection to the Internet (usually Cable or DSL). Whether for credit card processing, remote access or technical support your brand new Card Payment Systems will need to be connected to the Internet. What makes this so confusing is trying to understand what type of connection you will need, Static IP or Dynamic IP addressing. There is no industry standard here, different systems will require either, and knowing this information at the point of purchase not the point of install will insure the installation goes smoothly.
So what do I mean by Static and Dynamic IP addresses??
IP Addresses are basically your street address for the Internet. Static means you will always have the same address. Dynamic means your address will change periodically. Every Internet Provider (Comcast, Verizon, Roadrunner, ect..) I know offers both Static and Dynamic options. I have found Static Addressing usually comes at a higher cost per month. You will need to contact your local provider for more information.
Let give a few examples.
CCI’s Laundry Card System requires a dedicated (I will explain this in a little bit) Static IP Address. Due to technical support and remote access to your VTMs, CCI wants to insure that your address never changes. What I mean by “dedicated” is, they want the Laundry Card System to be the only device on that address. This means if you have a security camera, offer Wi-Fi, or have a connection to a Point of Sale system they cannot share the same address as the CCI Laundry Card System. Remember to check the specification of your other internet devices. There have been occasions where a different IP address for each device is needed. Some providers will give multiple Static IP Addresses with a single monthly plan, while I have seen others that charge for each additional Address above the first. Knowing this a head of time will tell you exactly what to expect for a High Speed Internet Bill every month.
On the other hand we have the Set-O-Matic SpyderWash system which requires a Dynamic IP Address to function correctly. The system basically addresses itself, is in constant communication with the internet and does not care of the originating address. As your address changes so will the SpyderWash System. This also means that it will take some technical configuration to work correctly on a Static IP Address. So, once again you need to look at the Internet devices you currently have or are thinking about installing accordingly. If your Security Cameras need a Static IP Address, and the SpyderWash needs a Dynamic, it would take a much more complex network system than normally required. Once again, this is information that needs to be researched well before the installation which I will summarize below.
It is important to remember that a Card Payment System is an add-on to your existing equipment. I do not know of laundry equipment manufacturer that sells a machine with its own card system ready to go out of the box. So, whether you decide on CCI, SpyderWash, ESD, or any other payment system it will more than likely need to be installed at your location with machines in place.
Full Loyalty Card Systems (For Example CCI’s Laundry Card or ESD CyberWash) will require wall space for the Card Dispensing Units as well as networking cable to be installed between every machine and the Card Dispensing Units. A medium sized Laundromat could see an average of 500 to 1000 feet (or more depending on layout) of cabling to be installed. The card system manufacturers have gone to great lengths to create readers that will install where the coin drops or money boxes used to exist. This makes for a much less invasive installation to the machines. However, a site survey will be needed to see what is involved in running the networking cables.
Debit and Credit Card Systems built to complement your existing coin operation requires readers to be mounted to machines without altering the current coin acceptance. This requires a much more invasive installation. Holes need to be drilled in your machines for mounting and cabling access. Direct wiring back to a VTM is generally not required with this kind of system as they usually interact with Wireless Access points via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The only cabling that has to be installed is connecting the Wireless Access Points to the Internet source.
All systems require an interface from the card reader to the microprocessor of the machines in order to start the machine from the newly added interface. Again, all the manufacturers have taken great care to make this as seamless as possible.
The above is a good example of why making sure the technical Internet aspects of the systems are handled a head of time is so important. No one wants to alter their machines then find out the system will not work with their current configuration.
Planning for the physical installation is very important. Especially for a store that will have customers inside while the installation is in process. I have found planning for an average of one hour per machine pocket is a good gauge of how long the full installation will take. This includes network cabling where needed, reader mounting/installation and system configuration. However due to cycle times of machines it is general practice to take down an entire group of machinery, perform the installation then bring the group back online for configuration and testing then moving to another group of machines. Customers will have access to fewer machines on installation day so it would be best to schedule around slower traffic days.
At face value Debit/Credit card system may look more appealing as they require very much less network wiring as compared to a Full Loyalty Card System. However, the time not spent networking every machine together is now spent mounting readers to the machines, drilling access holes and wiring them into the existing coin mechanisms. I cannot say that either installation will save time over the other.
Debit/Credit Card System Banking Info:
When you choose to add a Debit/Credit card system you also have to consider the Banking relationship. Regardless to which manufacturer you chose a bank has to process your debit/credit card payments. CCI’s FasCard Systems is the only one I am aware of right now that allows the customer to utilize their own bank. ESD and SpyderWash require the customer to use a specified bank. This process is coordinated between the manufacturer of the card system, bank, and customer. And typically has to be in place before kits are even shipped for installation.
To wind things down the best piece of advice I can give to any owner looking to update their store to accept card payment, is to find the system best suited your needs and then start asking questions.
Card Payment Systems are a very large investment for any Laundromat. We understand this and want to make the transition as seamless for you as possible. If you have any questions about the information above I am available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800-239-9265.