Merchant Services Industry Undressed – Swipe Secrets Revealed

DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE 16,000 COMPANIES THAT OFFER MERCHANT SERVICES AND THAT 99.8% OF THEM ARE RESELLERS?

That’s right; there are approximately 16,000 companies that offer MC/Visa Processing in the US. However, less than 20 of them actually do the processing themselves. So when I say 99.8% are resellers that is, unbelievably a conservative number. (The actual figure is 99.875%). It doesn’t take much to figure out that (follow me here) many of these resellers are reselling for a company that is already reselling. In fact, there may be as many as five companies between you and the actual processing company.

The biggest misconception in the marketplace is the idea that your local bank processes credit card transactions. With the extremely rare exception they do not. To simplify things, your Bank is in the business of opening accounts and lending money. Just about everything else they offer; Merchant Services, Payroll Services, Identity Theft Protection, Credit Report Monitoring, etc. is all farmed out to the actual providers of those services. This allows the bank to generate income from multiple sources and develop stronger relationships within their community. It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, hopefully you are banking with an organization you know, like and trust.

For some, the convenience and piece of mind are worth the extra costs associated with finding a provider yourself. The problem is those added fees continue to accrue for years. Over time, you may end up paying thousands of dollars to avoid what might only turn out to be a couple of hours of simple industry research.

However, the Merchant Services Industry is so incredibly over wrought with resellers that finding quality information is near impossible. What makes matters worse is the underlying negative affect this distribution model has on the actual merchants accepting credit cards for payment of goods and services.

Think about it…

A processor that engages an Independent Sales Organization (ISO) to sell their services for them has a vested interest in the success of that ISO. In other words the ISO becomes the customer. The ISO is exponentially more important to the Processor than the small business owner accepting Master Card and Visa transactions. In fact, for all intents and purposes, that Merchant will never matter.

This is the basis for all of the problems in the industry. Unfortunately for small business owners, the “horse is out of the barn.” There is no shutting this puppy down.

For the last few decades everything in this industry has been set up to help the ISO at the business owner’s expense. Here are a few examples:

1. Equipment Leasing: Many of the ISOs thrive on equipment leases. The worst example I have ever heard of was a small business owner, right here in New England that leased a $400 (wholesale cost) terminal for $99.00 per month for 16 years, (or $19,008.00). Today, the wholesale cost on most analog terminals is around $250.

a. Note: If you are considering an equipment change I recommend a dual/com terminal to take advantage of the internet for faster transactions. They cost a bit more (about $400) but often allow you to eliminate a costly business phone line.

2. Three Tier Pricing: Most small business owners are set up on a plan that bundles all transaction types in to three categories: Qualified; Mid-Qualified and Non-Qualified. However, there are no strict guidelines for classification. In other words what is a Non-Qualified transaction for you might be a Mid-Qualified transaction for someone else. Some ISO’s are actually adding a fourth tier.

3. One Standard Rate: I am sure you are bombarded by sales professionals offering you some new great rate for your Visa and MasterCard transactions. Did you know that Visa is actually less expensive to process than MasterCard? Did you also know that on average, a small business owner will accept Visa 60% of the time and MasterCard only 40%? If you are paying the same for MasterCard and Visa then you are giving money away every single month.

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In subsequent articles I will share with you more information to help you better understand an industry that is vital to your success. Accepting MasterCard and Visa is no longer an option, or a luxury. I assure you there are things you can do to get the absolute most out of your Merchant Services for less than you are paying now. Simply learning how the industry works and the steps you can take to control your costs will help you better understand your options going forward.

Business Services In Network Marketing – The Top 3 For Improving Client Relationships

More people are turning to the Internet for their network marketing company. With almost 2 billion people who use the Internet today it becomes a worldwide market. You have the choice of playing the numbers game and hope you get lucky and find someone who has as much excitement about your product as you do, or you can implement some simple principles that will help build relationships within your organization.

With the advancement of technology in today’s world we are finding out that the day-to-day relationships are falling apart. People desire fast results and are more to the point in their business dealings. Here is the top 3 for improving client relationships used over the Internet:

1. Be willing to serve: This principle is often forgotten when doing business over the Internet. We find that people generally will say and do things over the Internet that they won’t do when talking to someone face to face. Basic business services in network marketing apply over the Internet. You must be willing to serve your team members as an example. This doesn’t mean to do everything for them, however it does mean that you have to point your team members in the right direction so they can get that information for themselves. You have to teach them where and how to look for their information. This builds your relationship with them and earns trust.

2. Manage time effectively: Another important aspect to build customer relationships is by keeping in touch. Using the Internet as a tool for communication is essential. Develop an email campaign that allows you to keep your teammates informed. This saves you an incredible amount of time. A soft approach would be to send emails to your team 2 or 3 times a week. This helps build trust and earns you respect. By making yourself available shows them that you care and that you are willing to help them be successful.

3. Self Development: This is an important service that you can provide to your teammates. Encourage each member of your team to read, watch or listen to one self-development program either a motivational book, DVD or audio CD each month. Attending a live seminar would be an even better choice. This not only keeps them informed but also helps them develop the skills they need in managing their team. In network marketing each member needs to increase his or her leadership abilities in order for their team to grow. All must be a student of the business and be aware of the changes that occur in this fast pace industry.

Networking marketing is a business that is here to stay and allows the average person to develop an income according to their efforts. There are many ways to market their business over the Internet however the nature of network marketing will always be in building relationships.

Limo Business Advice: Tips for Success in the Limousine and Car Service Industry

In today’s slumping economy, many would consider it risky to enter or be involved in a luxury service based business venture. The limousine and car service industry would fall into that category. While it may be true that business is not what it once was, there is still more than enough opportunity to be both successful and profitable. If you’ve ever considered becoming involved in or actively run a limo service, it is important to recognize some of the key aspects and details necessary to make you one of the next success stories within the industry.

Being behind the scenes and not the wheel fail to expose you, an office person, to the many tales of horror that are often discussed in a car. These prior car service experiences are at times the conversation of choice coming from what should be the most important priority of your limo business: the customer. Customer service is at the tip top of the list when it comes to building and maintaining not only an honest relationship but a returning base as well. The customer will take everything from their first phone call and follow it through the entire experience. Behind the scenes, the customer service baton is quietly handed off from the office to the dispatch department, into the hands of the chauffeur and left up to them to deliver. It is important for the driver to be on time, properly attired and ready to greet the customer with a smile and a handshake. Small things such as bottle of water or a glass full of mints can also go a long way to improve upon the image of your service. A problem and incident free ride results in a happy customer and a happy customer is always a returning customer. Let the mistakes others, through your customer service, be your ticket to company growth.

A beat up vehicle with high mileage and a mediocre ride is no definition of the word luxury! It is important to remember that characteristic when maintaining or shopping around for the golden eggs of your business: the fleet. If customers do not have standards that must be met, they will surely go the budget friendly route and use a taxi. As a luxury service provider, it is important maintain a clean image and provide vehicles that are newer, clean and also properly maintained. Smoking in a vehicle this day in age is almost grounds for disaster and must be avoided at all costs. Routine oil changes, staying current with maintenance, repair, and quality car washes not only extend the life of your vehicles but will also aid in the resale value when it comes time to upgrade or expand. Also, be sure to keep track of all of your vehicle costs and service records as they do play a role in determining what you can expect to charge your customers. A customer riding in style is yet another reflection of your business and the tight ship you run. It is critical to not neglect what truly is the driving force of your business.

Think like a customer while preparing an effective marketing campaign and target those outlets. Once you’ve accumulated a client base and have a niche for delivering the quality of service that meets not only the customer expectation but your own as well, it’s time to find new business. While every market is different and the target audiences vary, the objective always remains the same. Being a bit more aggressive with your marketing is often the key to finding new business. Set aside a budget but also be prepared to spend money for the new target audience. It takes money to make money. A more aggressive marketing approach can include your internet campaign. Is your website up to par at the very least? Can people even find your website? Search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media are to be considered when looking to build your company profile or rank your website among search requests on the big search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing. Make sure to target keywords and search phrases that generate volume and strive to place your company website within first two pages of results. While professional marketing materials such as brochures and business cards are still effective and nice to have in this day in age, the internet is the king of advertising this generation. Also do not neglect the power of word of mouth through quality of your service. Many referrals come from the mouth of customers who have been happy and satisfied with what you have provided.

Finally, affiliates are your friends. There is plenty of work to go around and let’s face it, there will be times where you will be in over your head no matter how big you may get to be. Having that reliable someone to turn to in such an event is the key to not only keeping your business running problem free but also your peace of mind. Whether it be the one car operator or an established business, look to build these quality relationships and be sure to treat affiliate clients with the same level of service as if they are your own. Doing business together is one of the more underrated outlets for income in this industry and also a critical backdoor to turn to when you get stuck in a bind. As with life itself, it is better to make and have more friends than enemies.

Having found success providing limo service in a faced paced and demanding market, the tips I’ve been able to share with you are the result of some first hand experiences I’ve accumulated being both behind the wheel and the curtain as well. To go above and beyond not only your personal expectation but also the services provided by most others will be critical in establishing and maintaining your loyal customer base. Remember to never cut corners and always put these customers at the forefront of your operation. Failure to perform at the level expected is the only reason why many services fail to stay alive in this industry. Being ambitious, creative and using due diligence in your decision making will ultimately determine just how far you go within the limousine and car service industry.

Identifying and Exploiting Markets for the Service Industry

If you are in the service industry then you realize that you must give the customer what they want and compete in the marketplace with other companies that also offer services. One thing that service industry executives need to consider is that once you get into the marketplace you will find customers who will tell you they wish you to modify your services and they are willing to pay you more if you can do this for them.

As more and more customers demand different kinds of variations of the services that you already provide it makes sense for your service company to also offer those lines of services. In fact quite often you will find that many of the additional services that are asked for in various markets by your customers will be more profitable than the current services you provided when he started.

This is because most likely you picked a series of types of services that were very common in the marketplace and as you got more and more into the industry and all the sub-sector industry niches that you serve, you found other services that people wanted you to do and were willing to pay you a lot more to do them.

Indeed, such new services may have little if any competition and it makes sense to exploit these niches and identify them as early as possible so you can make more money in the marketplace in your service business. Perhaps you might consider all this in 2006.