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.

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.

Look Up to The Small Business Services for A Well-Established Business In The Next Five Years

Setting up your own business, though at a very small level, always sound as an attractive initiative to those tired of routine hectic jobs. But one must be quite logical and thoughtful about implementing an effective measure before quitting his nine-to-five job with a handsome salary package. You must have a strategic planning by your side as one of your vital initial measures for a long surviving and a progressive business. Obviously, no one wants their efforts, hard-earned money, and time to be doomed and result in utter disappointment.

A wise advice to any newly emerging or about-to-drown entrepreneur is to look for the highly professional and certified small business service providers in your state for the most accurate counseling. They surely have impactful business solutions that can serve as the perfect remedy for any obstacle encountered by a budding or suffering business. These platforms are teamed up by a professional staff having years of expertise for dealing with the most crucial business problems that an organization may encounter.

Learn how they can aid you; the Small Business Services serve as an expanded resource hub for the striving business personnel.

Individual guidance

No matter in which industry you want to set up your business, the small business assistance platforms serve as the most sincere and professionally wise advisory agencies. You can trust them to openly discuss about your business ideas in the respected field of interest. They suggest the most suitable business options for you considering the various aspects and your resources like the finance that you have for initial investment and how much profit you expect to earn monthly. Therefore, your most fitted business plans would go accordingly.

Business License and resources

They help you with the essential resources required at every stage of establishing your business. You do not have to bother about your lack of resources once you are associated to any small business service provider. They also fully support their clients for attaining a legitimate license for running an authentic business in their state. Once you are a certified business license holder, you have all the legal freedom to run your business.

Dealing with Taxes

For a growing business, dealing with the fussy tax agencies is itself a big hurdle. Small Business Services enable you to survive well in that boat too. They design well planned strategies for you to get through your tax clearing. They manage the tax preparation and filing process for you so you can look more towards your business progress.

Bookkeeping

They relieve you from the burden of bookkeeping responsibilities of your business too, which is itself an enormous task. They maintain the records of your staff’s monthly income, your profits, important deals, your products’ fluctuating costs and much more.

Customer Service In The Service Industry

Service industry depends almost solely on the strength of customer service provided; customers are hard to please one must note. While a natural aptitude in those desirous of joining this industry does help, training is necessary for them to be able to understand priorities of their profession better and develop them into efficient customer care executives.

The training largely makes communication skills better. Higher the level of skills the customer service staffs of a company possess, better the company’s image they create. It is by giving customers efficient service with regard to whatever their queries that the base of loyal customers can be enlarged. Customer service courses are available at most centers and those desirous of pursuing a career in this line will be well advised to take up such a course.

To its customers, a company is assessed mainly by its customer service staff as they create a direct link with the customers. Whether they sit across the table and resolve customer queries or do it on phone, professionalism on their part is highly desirable; of course politeness does go a long way towards customer satisfaction and business growth. In order to ensure that the customers do return to the company for their repeated or fresh needs, it is the treatment meted out to them by the concerned staff that holds the key.

To this end, the employees in this segment must do a course in customer training. By joining these courses, you do get valuable inputs to develop you into an efficient customer care professional. The courses are available in classrooms as well as online. The syllabus of such courses covers areas like identifying the needs of the customer, refrain from talking about matters that do not concern what the customer does not need, common mistakes committed by staff in dealing with customers and lots more.

You must try to make the best use of training material and guidance to rise to leadership level in this line of profession. The realization that the customer is the lord and it is for a customer service official to satisfy him rather than raising unwanted counter queries does sink in when one does a good training course in this line.

The company that you join has certain specific info that you should have while dealing with company’s customers. It is therefore necessary that apart from the training course that gives you general guidance in the line, you need to be further exposed to training by the company that you start working for. Of course, even after you are settled in a new job, you must continue absorbing useful traits from your experienced colleagues.