Payment plan & installment plan options for your small business


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Debit cards, credit cards, cash, money orders, checks, instant deposit, and online payments—these are just some of the payment options available at checkout today. However, as digital commerce continues to evolve, so do payment options. One payment option that’s becoming increasingly popular today is a payment plan.

As a business owner, offering payment plans may sound risky, especially if you’re concerned that a customer may be unable to meet their payments. In this post, we’ll go over payment plans and installment plans, explain how to accept partial payments, discuss the benefits of installment plans, and more.

Payment plans vs. installment plans

Payment plans and installment plans both allow customers to pay off their balance over time. However, payment plans offer the customer flexibility when choosing the payment amounts and the payoff date. Installment plans are preset, which means the payments and payoff dates are predetermined.

What are payment and installment plans?

Payment and installment plans are not synonymous, although they have similarities.

Understanding payment plans

Payment plans allow customers and cardholders to make partial payments over time until they pay off the full amount. Here are the details:

Typically, there is a minimum payment amount owed each week or month, but customers are free to choose how much they pay as long as they satisfy the minimum.

Payment plans don’t usually have set deadlines. Customers are free to choose the payment amounts and also control the payoff date. This is comparable to paying off the balance on a credit card

Payment plan example

Think of your business credit card. You are given a set limit but you’re free to use as much of that credit as you choose. You also have the freedom to choose how much of your balance to pay off each month, as long as you meet the minimum requirement. 

This is an example of a variable payment plan. It has no cutoff date and no penalty for early payment. 

Understanding installment plans

Installment plans also allow partial payments over time but are less flexible and usually more favorable to business owners due to their setup. Here are the details: 

  • Installment plans divide the total amount into equal installments, usually between 4 and 12.
  • There is a flat rate per payment the customer needs to meet to avoid fees.
  • The customer also needs to make payments on set deadlines to avoid fees. 

There are many benefits of payment and installment plans, such as allowing customers to pay for what they can afford at the moment and improving your cash flow by accepting a partial payment upfront.

Installment plan example

If you need to purchase office equipment like desk chairs, some businesses will look to rent-to-own stores to make the purchase. Here, you will select your purchase and they will split the price (plus taxes and fees) over a set period. 

This is an example of an installment plan. You will get a predetermined payoff date and set rates for each installment.

Benefits of using installment & payment plans

Partial payments have many useful benefits for both retailers and their customers. With more payment options, customers have more buying power, which can boost sales. Here are some of the reasons why retailers should consider using installment plans:

  • Increases sales
  • Enhances customer loyalty
  • Attracts new customers
  • Improves cash flow

Increase sales

One of the top benefits of accepting partial payments is that it can help boost sales. Partial payments give buyers more flexibility to make regular payments for an expensive purchase, such as furniture or a new appliance. 

When trying to close a sale on a costly item, the sticker price can make customers second-guess their purchase. By introducing your payment plans at the beginning of the sale, customers might be more inclined to follow through.

Enhance customer loyalty

When customers have more payment options, it can help increase the return rate. Knowing they have multiple payment options, including installment plans, customers may return for future purchases. This can help build brand and customer loyalty and give you a competitive advantage over other businesses that don’t offer those payment options. 

Attract new customers

Depending on the items or services you sell, finding new customers can be challenging—especially when what you sell is expensive. Offering payment plans can make your products and services affordable to more customers. With a broader pool of customers, you can increase your revenue. 

Improve cash flow

With payment plans, you can have a more stable and consistent cash flow, so your business can operate smoothly. Additionally, third-party vendors can help you manage cash flow and calculate key metrics, like your accounts receivable turnover ratio. Then, when you set up recurring payments, you can easily collect them to keep your cash flow in good standing. 

Drawbacks of using installment & payment plans

Though there are benefits to using installment plans, there are some drawbacks as well. Here are some things to consider before implementing partial payment plans: 

  • Higher fees: Partial payment plans typically charge customer and merchant fees and can be much higher than traditional payment methods. 
  • Integration issues: Fully integrating installment plan methods into your normal online checkout process can be time consuming and expensive.
  • Qualification challenges: Some businesses may not be able to implement installment payment plans if they don’t meet the requirements to qualify for this payment method. 
  • Consumer debt: Payment plans can encourage customers to purchase something they can’t afford, which can lead to financial troubles and a hit to their credit score if they’re not able to make payments on time. 

How to offer payment plans

There are a number of ways to optimize your offering of partial payments to customers. Depending on the software you use for payment, you may already possess the option to offer this benefit. If this isn’t already in place, you should follow the four steps below.

Determine eligible products and service

Are you going to allow only certain products or services to use this benefit? For example, you may decide that only orders over $100 are eligible.

Predetermine your criteria and consider all of your options such as:

  • Popular store items
  • Incentivizing customers to increase their order
  • Ease of breaking a price into smaller portions

Choose a program type

There are two main ways a business can accept partial payments and installment payments: By managing installment plans within the business, or with the help of a third-party vendor. 

  • Self-management: By managing payment plans yourself, you’ll be in charge of conducting credit checks, issuing financing, and managing payment collections. 
  • Third-party management: By using a third-party vendor, they’ll make credit offers and collect payments. A benefit of third-party vendors is that they can save you both time and money and help keep you out of legal trouble.

Decide on the invoicing frequency

You have complete control over the invoicing frequency. As a business owner, the more cash you can rake in each month, the better. You don’t want to have outstanding balances for too long and risk having to cover the missing capital. 
However, you also want to allow breathing room for payments from your customers, seeing as that’s the main draw of partial payments. Many businesses choose a monthly payment plan, whereas others place it on a weekly schedule. 

Set up recurring payments

Within your payment processor, set up recurring payments specific to each customer. You’ll need the customer’s:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Linked account or credit card

After you’ve set them up in your system, all payments moving forward should come from their linked account or credit card.

Q&A for payment/installment plans

There are many forms of partial payments and many ways to accept partial payments from customers. While we’ve focused on payment and installment plans, some may get confused when it comes to their comparison to other payment methods. Such as:

  • Loans
  • Buy-now-pay-later
  • Consumer financing

Below, we’ll cover the questions regarding these payment methods, plus their comparisons and differences. 

Payments/installments vs. buy-now-pay-later

Buy-now-pay-later through companies like Klarna and Affirm are forms of an installment plan. 


  • Gives customers a set payment plan
  • Provides a hard set payoff date


  • These are third-party companies and aren’t offered in-house through your business. 

As a business owner, this means you need to share a portion of your profits with these third parties for their services.

Is customer financing the same as payment/installment plans? 

Yes, customer financing is the same as payment and installment plans. Customer financing is another way to say you offer partial payments to your customers either through in-house financing or a third-party company.

Is a payment plan a loan?

No, a payment plan is not a loan. Loans are typically issued by banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions and lenders. When customer financing comes from a business, it’s considered a payment plan or installment plan.

Are partial payments right for your small business?

Payment plans are becoming a more popular payment option for both large and small businesses. Accepting partial payments and offering installment plans makes it easier for customers to make larger purchases.

In turn, companies can boost sales, increase customer loyalty, and attract new customers. With a small business payment processing solution, you can set up recurring payment plans and adjust the payment agreement schedule to meet your customers’ needs.


This article originally appeared on the Quickbooks Resource Center and was syndicated by

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5 tips for organic business growth

5 tips for organic business growth

It’s no secret that startups have a prodigious failure rate. In fact, according to a recent study, the four-year survival rate for a startup is just 49%.

With demoralizing stats like this in mind, entrepreneurs may be tempted to grow their profits through any means necessary, including inorganic strategies like acquisitions or mergers. However, the truth is that business owners can achieve impressive growth through organic strategies as well, allowing them to retain control of the companies they built from the ground up.

Also known as “true growth,” organic growth refers to the process of growing a business by reducing costs and increasing sales, either by finding more customers or enhancing output to current clients. On the other hand, inorganic growth occurs when a company merges with or is acquired by a second business. Entrepreneurs should take the time to familiarize themselves with the advantages of organic and inorganic growth, as well as some of the top strategies for execution, so they can decide which is the best choice for their business.

As a new business owner, you’ll likely want to increase profits as quickly as possible. By employing inorganic strategies like mergers and acquisitions, startups can grow their businesses more quickly while taking advantage of resources such as stronger credit lines and expanded market resources. Additionally, joining with another company lets you take advantage of its expertise and experience in the industry to develop your own brand.

By merging with another business, you agree to hand over some of your control and equity to another company. Not only can your initial vision become diluted, but you may also be forced to take on new business and managerial challenges before you’re truly ready. In some cases, you may have to rush to grow your staff and production capabilities to keep up with demand.

On the other hand, organic growth techniques allow you to grow your business on your own timeline. Because you aren’t sharing control with another company, you can hire employees and expand sales at your own pace. Additionally, entrepreneurs who maintain their autonomy now can sell for a larger profit later when the company is fully developed.

While retaining control of your company offers many advantages over the long haul, it can make business growth challenging in the short term. Some entrepreneurs struggle to grow beyond their current marketplace, while others find themselves cut down by the competition. Additionally, new businesses must often fight to make ends meet from month to month. Fortunately, strategies exist to help startups grow their profits without handing over control to partners or investors.

Here are just a few of those strategies to help you grow your business organically:

Want to grow a business that will feed your family and employees for years to come? The first step on the road to entrepreneurial success is starting the right kind of company.

With home-based and e-commerce businesses, you can avoid expenses like rent and commuting during the early, lean years of your company. As an added bonus, working out of the home lets you write off parts of your mortgage and electric bill. You can then invest these savings back into the business to help you grow in the long term.

A common conundrum for new business owners is whether to take your full cut of the profits or invest the money back into your company. While you may be tempted to keep some of those hard-earned dollars for yourself, you should aim to reinvest gross profits whenever possible to help your business grow. Investing your own money shows prospective clients and lenders that you are confident in your company’s long-term potential.

Not sure where to put profits? When in doubt, invest in marketing, SEO and other tactics likely to generate more business for your startup. If your income permits it, you may also want to invest in employee training and technological improvements, as these can yield large profits down the line for your company.

No matter how happy your current clients are with your offerings, you will have trouble growing your business organically if you don’t put effort into finding new sales channels. If you don’t currently sell your goods online, you should definitely consider starting a website to expand your reach to other regions. Additionally, you can introduce new products, cross-market services to your existing clients and expand to different markets. For example, a company that specializes in SEO may want to expand its services to include social media and search engine marketing.

Finally, business owners should employ market segmentation to customize their strategies according to the specific channels they are leveraging and the specific markets they are trying to reach. This way, you can create unique campaigns based on customer location and demographics and watch your sales rates skyrocket.

As a new business owner, you may feel the urge to micromanage everything that happens at your company. However, the truth is that macro-management is a far more effective way of enabling organic growth for your startup.

To keep your company moving forward, you should train top employees to take over some of your daily responsibilities. While you may be tempted to keep costs down by hiring employees who will work for less, in the long run these staff members could end up costing you more if their efforts aren’t up to par. Find people you can trust to get the job done—even when you’re not around—so you can focus on growing and developing your business in the years to come.

From minimizing spending, to reinvesting profits back into the business, organic growth strategies help ensure that you will retain control of the company you worked so hard to build. Do your research, and consider all the growth strategies available in order to give your business the best shot at success.

Do you know how sales taxes are impacting your bottom line? Check out our sales tax calculator.

This article originally appeared in the QuickBooks Resource Center and was syndicated by

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