There are countless ways to get paid; "cash or credit" is just the start of an ever-evolving conversation. That said, payment methods can be classified into two main groups: manual and automatic payment methods.
Cash payments, bank transfers, and checks must be handed to you or ordered at the bank. These methods have little or no setup and can be processed for free, but they require you to chase your members for payment, spend hours tracking them, and are inefficient in terms of time and labor.
When a member of your space receives an invoice, it can take some time before you actually have the money in hand. You then have to go to the bank to deposit it (if paying cash), manually mark the invoice as paid as well as make an entry into your accounting system.
If you decide to accept these payment methods, make sure that you provide all the information necessary to make the payment speedy. Your desk times and your complete bank details should be shown in your invoice - including your IBAN and SWIFT code, or routing number if you are in the USA or other country without an IBAN. Otherwise you won’t be able to complain if members take longer than expected to pay their invoices.
Payment cards are the most convenient payment methods for customers.
The great thing about credit card payments is that they don’t need an action from your customer. Unless the credit card is expired or the bank account linked to the card has no funds, the payment is made the moment the invoice is generated. This reduces the payment time to just a couple of days, which is the average time taken to see the money in your bank account.
To accept payment cards, all you need to do is set up a Merchant Account with a Payment Service Provider (PSP), a specific type of bank account that lets businesses accept payment cards. You can use a Payment Gateway to send payment orders from most invoicing applications to these PSP, so that they send a request to your customer’s bank to send the money to your account. Once the payment has been made, the payment status is automatically marked as PAID and the processing date is added to the invoices report.
If you’re already using Cobot, you can use Authorize.net, Stripe, Adyen or PayPal to process payments (click here for a full list). If you prefer to use a different payment provider, you can also use our API to create an integration.
Direct debit is broadly used to pay supplier’s invoices, and is one of the fastest and most secure ways to get paid. It is also the preferred method of payment in the UK and Europe.
As with credit cards you need a merchant account in order to accept funds. Your coworkers will need to fill in a form authorizing you to deduct the amount due from their bank account every month. The merchant takes care of communicating the amount to your customer’s bank, and the bank transfer is processed automatically without requiring any confirmation from the customer. Payments generally take from 3 to 6 work days to be effective. Be sure to keep in mind that neither weekends nor bank holidays are considered work days—payments over holidays can take even longer.
Cobot integrates with GoCardless to provide direct debit options for our global customers who wish to take advantage of the security and convenience of direct debit for their members.
PayPal is a global leader in online payments and a fast and secure way for your customers to pay online. PayPal works with all major debit and credit cards as well. You don’t even need a PayPal account to pay with it! And the fees are quite low.
Another advantage is that PayPal is widely accepted in the USA - they even offer a card reader for your iPad or smartphone free of charge.
The downside of PayPal is that variable amounts can’t be automatically processed by PayPal. If you are charging a fixed amount to your members every month PayPal is a perfect fit. However if you have variable charges (i.e. you charge a monthly fee and have additional services like drinks or equipment that vary from one month to the other) your coworkers will need to manually confirm their payments every month.
Your best bet is to find the intersection of speed, convenience, and low fees—for yourself and your members. If you are operating in a location where cash is still the predominant form of payment, you'll want to make that easy, even if it's more inconvenient for your staff. But conversely, if you are in a place where all options are equally functional, make your staff's lives easier and automate all the payments you can.
Check out our full collection of resources for starting up a coworking business. You can also read our blog and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for more tips and news around coworking space management. You have additional questions or feedback? Suggest new topics at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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