Q.: How are landscape companies handling charges from credit card companies for customers who choose to pay their invoice this way? Do they pass on a convenience fee to these customers? And, how do you handle this if the customer is not present (for example, customer calls into our office and we take the credit card information and manually enter it)? Recently, we received a credit card for payment of an invoice of $30,000 for which we were hit with a 3 percent charge (around $900) from the credit card company. Is it reasonable to ask the customer, if they are going to pay this way, to pay the entire convenience fee?
A. I definitely understand your concern about the cost of credit card processing. It can take a bite out of your profits. We initially looked at the situation like you are, and then we weighed that cost against the cost of not collecting payment from the clients on a timely basis.
Charging a client’s credit card as soon as you perform the services is much better than waiting 30, 60, or 90 days to get the money.
Not collecting on a timely basis may result in you having to borrow against your line of credit to pay vendors. I would imagine you are paying more than 3 percent for that money
Many of our clients like the points or airline miles they get for using their credit cards, so it is becoming a standard way of doing business.
If you want to recoup that fee, I would add it to your pricing structure rather than show it as an additional charge. I think you will get some negative feedback if you make it a separate charge.
Jud Griggs, Landscape Industry Certified Manager, Lambert Landscape Co.
Q.: I’m trying to locate a pink rhododendron for a client, and I’m in Kansas (zone 5). It seems that azaleas and rhododendrons are almost the same thing (other than deciduous vs. evergreen). So, whenever I think I’ve found the right rhodo, some sources will say the flowering color is pink, lavender, or pink-lavender. I’m confused. Is this an issue similar to hydrangea where you adjust the acidity of the soil to get a different flowering color?
A. Azaleas fall in the genus of rhododendron. Rhododendrons and azaleas can be tropical or hardy, deciduous or evergreen. The bloom color seems to change as the season progresses, hence the odd variation of hues within the same description. The typical way to describe their color is by what is the predominant color. There are some azaleas (Satsuki) in particular that have multiple colored blooms that are really striking and memorable.
The Exbury azalea is a great plant for Kansas, especially in the eastern half of the state. I personally have three at our house, and they are gorgeous and thriving. Exburys are problem-free plants and easy to grow.
I recommend that you plant them in partial shade and avoid direct afternoon sunlight. They are way underused plants.
As far as rhodos go, it’s difficult for this plant to thrive in Kansas. We do not have the proper soil for them, and the summers get too hot and the winters are oftentimes too dry for a broadleaf evergreen to thrive.
With that said, I have seen several nice plantings in the proper location.
My best sellers and the ones that do best are PJM, Nova Zembla, Purple Gem, Ramapo and Impeditum. I found rhododendron.org to be a really interesting website.
Katharine Rudnyk, Monrovia Growers
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