The best card machines for hair and beauty salons

Looking to optimise the payment systems of your hair or beauty salon? Read our guide for advice on factors that will have an impact on your choice of card machine, and help you to choose the best card machines for your business.

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The best card machines for hair and beauty salons

10 May 2022

card machines

If you run a business offering hair or beauty treatments and products, then chances are you have had to adapt your business model in the past couple of years. Choosing the best card machine for taking payments at your hair or beauty salon starts with your business today, your objectives, and how you want to operate.

Most small businesses don’t want to have to think about their payment system once it is in place, they want it to run smoothly and effectively without any issues. In this article, we explore questions that will help you to establish how to select the best card machine for your hair or beauty business.

Choosing the best card machine for your hair or beauty business.

Card machines, card readers, PDQ machines, card terminals… whatever you call them, all accept card payments. But ask yourself, where do your customers expect to pay for your services? Do your customers want to pay in their chair, at the counter, or online? When choosing the right type of card machine, keep the following options in mind:


  • Countertop card machines. These are perfect if your salon is set up to accept payment at the counter as customers exit. They’re extremely reliable, as they use wired internet to connect and complete a transaction. They are set up at a fixed point, usually next to your till, and are the fastest most reliable way to take payments.


  • Portable card machines. If your hair or beauty salon spans multiple rooms or floors, and you want to take payments in any part of the building, a portable card machine is ideal. They connect with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or 3G, so can take payments anywhere on the premises. They give salon owners the flexibility they need to make paying easy and can be used together with a fixed countertop card machine. If you have connection issues, this option is perfect.


  • Mobile card machines. If you attend events or provide mobile services, it makes the most sense to have a mobile card machine. These use GPRS to accept cards anywhere with a mobile network.


  • Online payments. In a recent article, we explained how to start taking payments online with your existing website, which is not as difficult as you might think. If your customers only have an opportunity to buy their favourite salon grade products when they visit, you could be limiting the sales potential of your products. Incorporating an eCommerce platform could be an effective way to increase product sales.

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Questions to ask yourself as a hair or beauty salon owner accepting payments.

Once you understand which card machine or payment option suits you best, you may want to explore other aspects of your business that will have a bearing on your final choice. Choose a deal that not only serves you today, but that will help you to achieve your goals with the least disruption.

Here are further questions to ask yourself about your business that you may not realise are relevant to choosing the best card machine or payment service.

What is your turnover?

Your turnover will affect the rates that card machine providers offer you and is a good indicator of the deal that you can expect, and the higher the turnover, the better the deal. Have the following information ready when you are researching your options;

1)            What is your annual turnover?

2)            What is your average transaction value?

3)            How many card transactions do you process in a day?

4)            What is the mix between products and service sales?

5)            Which cards do your customers use to pay?

6)            Do you expect any shifts in turnover in the next 3 years?


Do you have a loyalty scheme in place?

Existing customers can be the best source of new business, and in the hair and beauty business loyalty is vitally important. If you have regular and loyal customers, loyalty schemes are an ideal way to keep them engaged and coming back. Research shows that retaining only 5% of customers through loyalty platforms can increase revenue by 25% to 95%, and when you consider that it costs businesses 5x more to attract new customers than retain an existing customer, catering to your loyal customers will ultimately reduce costs.

Small business owners can streamline their business with an integrated EPOS system that takes payments, tracks sales, and manages stock. If you have an EPOS system already, check to see if potential payment providers integrate with your system, if they don’t it may be time to upgrade your EPOS system. This article helps you to understand whether it might be time for you to upgrade to an EPOS system, which is by far the easiest way to incorporate a loyalty scheme that shows your customers that you care.  

Do your customers have choices when it comes to paying for your services?

Giving your customers the flexibility to choose how and where they pay is essential when considering the best card machine. This might mean that you have more than one card machine, one at a fixed point, and a mobile one. Ask your customers how they want to pay and provide what they prefer.

Have you experienced changes to your hair and beauty business in recent years?

No one knows your business like you do and you have already adapted to the contactless, cashless way of working. What many small business owners don’t realise is that their payment provider can also help with common strategic goals. It is always worth speaking to potential payment partners to see how their solutions can help you build and grow, that goes way beyond which card machine is best for your business.

How can your card machine provider help to grow your hair or beauty business?

All card machine providers want to help you to do more business. They know your pain points; they understand your business because they have thousands of customers just like you. Here are some common commercial objectives of small business owners, and an explanation of how your card machine provider can help you with them.

Increase sales

Help your customers to buy more frequently by offering the products and services they want. Choose which product lines you stock, and services you offer carefully to make sure they appeal to your customer base. With the right combination of products and services, be ready to make ordering and paying for your products and services as easy as possible. Whether you are a hair salon that stocks sustainable products, or a beauty salon that offers treatment packages, make it easy for customers to pay for whatever they demand.


Reduce costs


There are a number of ways that your payment provider can help you to save costs.


  • Pay up front for your terminal and save on monthly terminal rental fees
  • Lower transaction fees for common payment methods
  • Software integrations that save time and make purchases easier for customers
  • PCI Compliance support to avoid hefty fines


Sell online


Your card machine provider has done all the leg work when it comes to software and hardware. If you want to sell your products online or enable clients to pay upfront for services, your provider can help you to get set up to take payments online or by using payment links.


Improve Cashflow


Get money into your bank account faster than the usual 3 to 5 working days, with same day or faster payments. If you don’t already have one, an EPOS system is an effective and affordable way to streamline your business operations. EPOS systems use powerful software integrations specific to your industry. Where a traditional till can only record a sale, an EPOS system collects a host of information to populate detailed reports that allow you to make informed business decisions on sales, stock management, staff performance and customer behaviour.


Are you ready to start taking card payments with a payment services provider?

Use this article as a springboard in the hunt for the best card machine. And remember, RMS have years of experience helping small businesses flourish financially. Make sure to get in touch if you have any further questions.

If you feel like you could do with more guidance, be sure to reach out to a member of the RMS team who will be able to give you all the information you need.