Credit cards are a universal form of payment, used by the majority of our consumers globally.
Businesses that don't accept credit card payments can lose customers, and appear less professional. If one business doesn't accept credit cards, their competition will.
Over the last 20 years of being in business, I have seen a multitude of processors in stiff competition vying to assist my business with their payment processing services.
Many direct credit card processors have used sales tactics which many would consider less than straightforward. Rates have sometimes been obscured and hard to understand. Fees have been added later on, which were not initially presented, and still other fees were sometimes hidden altogether.
Ive always had to keep my eyes open for their cancellation fees, as they can reach well into the thousands of dollars.
It's true, I've seen that rates do vary depending on types of cards, methods of transactions, and other factors, but technically should vary only within the processor's initial rates & fees, which should not change from the initial quote.
In actuality, I've found the rates & fees of some processors have exceeded the quoted rates & fees by a significant margin. These rate changes can greatly impact your small business's bottom line and affect your daily cash-flow. They did for mine.
Any business, company, or individual looking for a direct merchant services provider (credit card processor) therefore should be informed about the different pricing structures and what charges may apply.
Being informed and doing your research about this beforehand can make the difference between getting a competitive rate or a vague and inflated rate.
So, I needed to stop wasting time and money, and do some research. Or should I say, let them do my research for me!
ENTER THE BROKER
When we buy a house, we rarely ever go at it alone. We use an agent. The agent generally asks us the normal questions; what size, how many rooms, how much land, how much money do you want to spend, etc?
At this time, I was again, searching the web for a new processor. I was making my list of the top 5. If you have ever done this, you know how tedious and time intensive this can be. But the one thing that really frustrated me, every company looked exactly the same! I dreaded having to call, and interview, the 5 companies I had on my list. I wanted someone to do the research and work for me!
I decided to call my brother, who happens to be a banker, and he advised me to call one of his college friends, who happens to own a financial service business. See kids, college does pay off. After ten minutes on the phone with them, I decided to use his brokerage.
Let me explain why I went this route.
1. Brokers are Client Focused I've learned that there isn’t a perfect processor, so with a broker, working on my behalf, they found my company the best balance of price, product, and customer service.
2. Brokers have Options Generally, because of time, and hassle, most business owners, myself included, start looking at only one processing company and the options they offer. Well, that's all the options they will ever offer. A trusted broker will have relationships with ALL the direct processors, and can provide us a purposely biased solution based on our direct needs.
3. "Select" Brokers Offer Future Growth Internally, "Select" brokers, those willing to invest money in internal software, will have watchdog programs that ensure I will always have the best solutions for my business.
4. Industry Acquisitions and mergers I went through this first hand. Remember the LinkPoint / First Data Deal? Over time, direct processors are bought and sold, and some even go bankrupt. A good brokerage can easily change my processor, allowing me to avoid any adverse pricing or new policies instituted by shareholders who simply want to make more money.
5. Pricing and Contracts As a broker, they are in full control of pricing, and protect us from unnecessary price increases.
6. The Big One for me - Our Sales/Customer Service Rep Our sales rep was willing to explain their structure in full. All rates & fees were disclosed and clear. Terms of the contract were explained and understood.
So, if you go the broker route like me, make sure you diligently research your broker and ensure they are reputable. On the initial call, make sure your sales rep clearly defines all of their rates and fees, and shows an emphasis on customer service.
This is important because like mine, your business depends not only on low rates & fees, but also on effective and fast customer service in the event of any issues or questions. You never want to lose business due to a merchant services technical difficulty.
So the big questions is, who did I choose?
ClearPay Financial Services. A company out of Milwaukee Wisconsin. Yes, Wissconnsinn. A good O'le Midwest, Happy Days, Treat everyone like they were your Grandma, hard working and strong business ethic state!
So far, in the last four years, their promise has held true. A price and rate match guarantee with great customer service.
In talking with one of the owners, to satisfy my curiosity, I asked him, "What is one of the biggest confusions that most of us business owners deal with when choosing who to use for cc processing?"
He summed it up for me with this:
"Myth - Going Direct is Better - ironically, we can easily board new clients below direct processor pricing because their pricing is managed by shareholders to maintain profitability.
Besides, they have up to 50 levels of middle management needed in order to make a decision for their special pricing! We have transparency with our sales reps, and can quickly make decisions to serve the needs of our future clients.
99% of the time, OUR certified payment professionals sell the direct processors products BETTER than their own sales reps."
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Merchant Qtly.