This will be the first in a series of posts where I talk about my main job these days, in credit card merchant services. In this post I will explain what I do; in the second post I will explain how I do it. I will also follow up with some posts listing lessons I have learned while out doing sales. And, I’ll post about a networking group I got involved with along the way, and an additional side business that resulted. These posts will probably be interspersed with whatever else I feel like talking about.
Short and sweet, this is what I do for a living:
I help new businesses get set up to accept credit and debit cards;
I help existing businesses get better rates on their credit and debit card processing.
My company specializes in working with small mom-and-pop retail stores, restaurants, and professional offices (doctors, lawyers, etc.) The thing is, most of the large credit card processors are built to work with large chain stores. Their business model does not work as well with the little guys.
The company I work for has a very lean business model. The big guys employ full-time salespeople to go out and drum up business. That means they have to pay salaries; they have to pay for office space, benefits, and often perks such as company cars. My company pays for none of that. I’m totally on commission (although the commissions are quite generous). I like it because it’s totally up to me; if I want to make money I can go out and make it happen. In addition, my home is my office, which makes me very happy. And since I’m totally commissioned, I can work as many or as few hours a week as I want; it’s not costing the company anything.
Because of this lean business model, my company has low overhead, and I can usually sign up small companies at rates the large processors could not possibly afford. My regional manager tells businesses, if I can’t beat the other companies’ rate I’ll pay you $50. He’s never had to pay it yet.
I have an additional advantage: Most credit card processors are scum and rip their clients off. Think about it. You’re opening up a toy store or hardware store or dental practice. Do you know anything about the credit card industry? And furthermore, do you care? Probably not. You just want to get the doors open as quickly as possible and start doing what you love. And so, getting set up to accept credit cards becomes a task you have to get done, like doing laundry or paying bills. So you think to yourself, who do I know who can get this done for me? And if you’re like most business owners, the obvious answer is…your bank.
The problem is, the banks know that you don’t know. So they’ve got you. And they write you a contract with an enormous rate. Or they stick it to you on equipment fees. Or, if they think you’re a bit more savvy, they quote you a contract with a low rate, and then kill you with hidden fees in the fine print. Or they quote you a low rate and then mis-classify the bulk of your charges at a higher penalty rate. There are all kinds of ways they can getcha.
So, what I do is educate small business owners on the credit card business and what a fair rate is. I also educate them on the right equipment for their business. In some cases I offer optional programs to complement their credit card service. These include
Wireless terminals that allow mobile businesses to get the best rates
Internet processing, allowing businesses to sell online
Gift card programs that encourage customers to come back more often; and
A program that puts a stop to bad checks for good.
Does every appointment turn into a sale? No. I wish that were the case. But every small business owner who meets with me gets an education about how credit card processing works. They’re capable of making informed decisions; they’ll no longer be in the dark. And many of the business owners are very appreciative; their bank never took the time to come out and explain it all, did they? So, when I end my presentation by offering the chance to sign with my company and get a better rate, it seems only natural to go with the person who has treated them well.
So, in a nutshell, that’s what I do. If you know of anyone opening a new business in the Memphis area, I’d like to talk to them. If you know of a business in the Memphis area that already displays the MC/Visa logos on their door, I’d like to talk to them as well, because those logos are a sign that their current processor is probably charging them too much money.
And with that, I’m off to bed for the evening.