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Your Residual Split: Understanding How It Works
Saturday, January 02 2021

If I had to make a rough estimate, it seems to me that about 90% of merchant services agents aren't actually very familiar with their residual splits and how they work. This isn't a great position to be in and you don't want to be in the dark, so take a look at these tips to get a good grasp on the subject:

1) First of all, do you actually own your residuals for the life of you account? If not, then years of work on your part could just disappear literally overnight. You could have been working tirelessly to build up a huge portfolio, but it would all be down the toilet simply because you stopped selling for awhile. Many ISOs have these stipulations, where you're required to bring in new accounts every certain amount of time, or your residuals are lost. Does that sound fair to you?

So many agents fall for this racket. Don't do this, no matter how much bigger your part of the split will be. Over the long-term, it's just not worth it. You're trying to build long-term passive income here, not turn your work in sales into an ordinary job—that's a waste of a great opportunity. Make sure you ask about this before you choose a merchant services ISO program. Tell them to give you an exact play-by-play of what will happen if you decide to leave the business. If the answer is “You will lose your residuals,” then walk away. Also, if you can't sell your residuals, then reconsider as well, since this is an indication that you don't really own them.

2) Forget about the percentage of your split. This doesn't really mean anything. To illustrate this better, let's say you're playing monopoly and your friend wants one of your properties. He offers you 30% of his net worth for it. However, another player butts in and raises the stakes. He tells you that he'll give you 50% of his net worth. Finally, a third player screams over your other two arguing friends and declares that he'll give you 10% of all of his cash if you will sell him the property. How do you decide which deal to take?

Well, obviously, you don't have enough information to make a good decision, do you? Before you know which deal is the best, you need to know the net worth of each of the players! After all, if Player 1 and Player 2 only have 100 monopoly dollars to give you, then you know that what they're offering is a raw deal if Player 3's net worth is 5000 dollars. Even with only 10% of that, it's far more than what the other two players were offering.

The same goes with credit card processors. Ignore their bragging about how they will give you 70% or 80% or whatever inflated number. It doesn't actually mean anything unless you know how they calculate the profit in the first place. Always get some context for these numbers, or else they are just going to be completely useless to you.

3) Always keep an eye on costs and the fees that the processor is going to charge you, as this will have much more influence on your profit than the actual split. You can find out what these fees are by looking at the Schedule A that your credit card processing agent program will provide for you. You will also need to ask yourself a few things when considering cost. For example, do they add basis points before they calculate the profit? What are they going to charge you for the transaction fee?

Some processors give you a true interchange pass through, while others will mark up the fees a few basis points above interchange before they start to calculate the profit. With the former kind of processor, things are a bit more obvious. For example, if your transaction fees are $0.03 and you in turn set up your merchant's transaction fee as $0.09, the profit per transaction is $0.06. If you had a 50/50 split, then you would get half of that in the end. It's a case of simple arithmetic. However, if you're having to deal with a huge mark up of dozens of basis points first, a lot of that profit is lost, and even if you had a 90% split, it wouldn't be worth it.

By the way, stay away from “buy rate” programs, as they don't offer you good deals. If you have any doubts about this, then be sure to get into contact with me and I will tell you all about it. You might be tempted to go with one of these programs, but I assure you that after I break it down for you, you will change your mind. Always go with a revenue sharing plan, as it's much more lucrative in the long run, especially if you choose a good processor to work with. I've even heard of processors trying to set up these kinds of deals with merchant services ISOs themselves, which is very silly in my view. You're trying to run a business here and build your empire, so don't settle for a buy rate.

4) The pricing is not as important as the cost structure when you want to get accounts of a significant size. Aim for a low cost structure for your clients. If your processor is charging more per transaction than $0.04, then you probably won't be able to pass on a reasonable deal to your merchants, so think twice about going with a processor that is this pricey, even if you're making 80% of the split. Make sure to have more than one partner so that you have access to the lowest rates and the best deals, and this way you can give your merchants a variety of options. This is especially true for your larger merchants.

5) Finally, keep in mind that you shouldn't get too caught up in either the cost structure or how much of a percentage of the residuals that you get. Ultimately, making the sales is what will determine your success in the long run. You need merchants to make money, and you need to close a lot of deals. Any merchant services ISO program or processor that you're partnering with should know this and help you get the kind of training that will lead you down the right path. If you can't even close deals, then there's no point in worrying about your compensation—you won't be getting it anyway! Whether you make 50% or 90% of $0, it is still $0, and that's certainly not a handsome residual to be getting every month. So choose your associates wisely, as they can help you to succeed—or drag you down.

We're happy to help you on your endeavor, so we offer all kinds of resources, from informative material, to help with your marketing, to training. If you're curious or have any questions about how to move forward in this career, then don't hesitate to send us an email.

Final Tip: Contact North American Bancard Agent Program to set up your agent offices and become a successful merchant services agent.

Download PDF: Your Residual Split: Understanding How It Works

Are You Getting Paid Correctly by Your Payment Processor?
Friday, January 01 2021

Most successful merchant services agents are very dedicated to what they do. If you take this line of work seriously, you probably make it a priority to deliver the best customer service possible to your merchants. You may even be the type who makes himself available 7 days a week in order to serve his clients during busy times or even emergencies. If you are really making an effort to give the merchants what they need, then you should be fairly compensated for it, period. Is your payment processor giving you all of your money?

As terrible as it sounds, it's possible that you may get shortchanged by your processor. Even some people that I know who have been in the industry for awhile don't know with 100% certainty if they are getting the residuals that their contracts state that they should. After all, these documents can be complicated, and it's just so easy for a company to nickel and dime you without your realizing.

I had this sinking feeling that something like that might have been happening it me. I was pretty sure that if it had, I wouldn't readily notice it—I was too busy working on singing up clients and giving them the best possible customer service. I didn't consider it part of my merchant services job to spend my time making sure that my credit card processors were doing theirs.

Do you suspect that your own residuals are coming in short? Do you think that you're being paid less than what you actually made? This can certainly happen, and here are some common signs:

  • You're not sure if the residual payments that you get every month are an accurate reflection of what you earned. This is the first red flag. Sure, it is definitely partially your responsibility to keep on top of your income, but by no means does this excuse a processor ripping you off.
  • You can't make any sense of your statement and you're not sure how your residuals are even tallied up. Ignorance is a tool that ethically dubious companies can use to prey on hard-working people.
  • The statement of your residuals doesn't include much detail beyond the name of your merchants and how much they brought it. Everything should be broken down, or else you don't know why you're getting what you're getting.
  • You notice mistakes in your residual report frequently, and you have to waste a lot of time every month fixing the problem, to the point where it's barely even worth it.
  • There are fees or adjustments on the statement for reasons that you can't figure out.

Are any of these factors true about your residuals? If so, then it's possible that you are not getting all of the money that is owned to you. This can be hugely detrimental to your business, especially when you're first starting out, because you really need every penny you can get to help you expand. You don't want a payment processor that is engaging in unfair business practices and trying to leech money away from you.

Because of this, it is extremely important that you have all of the details about your payment laid out before you sign up with a processor. Make sure you know exactly how they calculate your residuals, so that there is no guesswork. Just as your clients have the right to know what you are going to charge them for your merchant services, you have the right to know exactly what your payment processor will charge you. After all, payment processing fees are going to be one of the larger costs of your business, so you need to take this into consideration beforehand.

In order to make sure that you are getting what you truly deserve in terms of residuals, take a look at this checklist and make sure that everything is right:

  • Your statements and reports should break down your payments in details, so that you know exactly why you are making a certain amount. Don't allow any mystery to exist here.
  • Your reports should be made available by your processing company in a variety of formats, and you shouldn't be limited to just paper or some obscure file extension. Make sure that you can get something like an Excel spreadsheet, and that way you can study your statement deeply and verify every detail yourself with your own calculations.
  • They should provide some way for you to compare the performance of each of your merchants, and to be able to see what your residuals have been from month to month. Even better, if they have some sort of electronic back-end where you can do this, exploit it as much as you can and verify every cent.
  • There should always be a way for you to know what your merchant paid, so that you know they are getting billed exactly the amount that you quoted to them when they signed up.
  • You should always have records of the past available to you, and your processor should not make these hard to access. Ideally, there should be a back-end where you can look all of this up with an online account of some kind.

If your payment processor loves to play the mysterious role and keeps you in the dark about all the details—for example, by not offering a break-down in their reports and only giving you general details—then maybe you should start shopping around for another company to work with. Honest companies typically make it a point to be transparent, and you should know that a shady processor that tries to hide details from you isn't your only choice in this business.

These days, I work with a company that truly honors transparency, and I can always expect them to give me an accurate report that stays true to the original contract. After spending nearly two decades working with different processors with varying results, I stopped allowing this kind of vagueness in reporting to be acceptable to me, and I'm very glad I did.

If you find yourself frustrated in a similar way by the statements that you receive, then maybe it's time that you raise your standards as well. Remember that there are tons of options out there, and that you don't need to stay with a processor that doesn't respect the agreement that you signed or that makes tons of mistakes when calculating your share.

So, have you ever experienced an inaccuracy in your statement? What did you do to fix it? Let me know your story, especially if your experience might be of value to others.

How Much Can You Make Selling Merchant Services? | Schedule A Training
Thursday, December 31 2020

When you're new to selling merchant services, lots of things can get confusing, but one of the most confusing things that you will have to deal with is understanding all of the statements that affect your residuals, and especially the fee schedules that determine your costs. Many times, this can be so cryptic that your partner company may actually spend some time and effort explaining the fees to you. At the very least, they should provide you with some kind of written material that demystifies things. Even still, things might not always be totally clear.

In order for you to have a better idea of your Schedule A as a new Merchant Services Sales Agent, let's break down the various sections so that you're not completely in the dark:

Authorization and Capture / Settlement Per Item Fee - A key part of your Schedule A, you'll want to pay close attention to this section specifically. These fees are associated with the front-end platform. Should the processor that you work with offer more than one front-end, this section might look a bit different, as they may break everything down further and have different costs listed for different front-ends.

First and foremost, you need to have your Schedule A on hand, so make sure that you ask your payment processor or merchant services provider for a copy. After that, you're going to have to figure out whether these three fees are depicted as one entire line or if they are broken down. Depending on your provider, they may be expressed differently. For example, you might find an “Authorization” line with a fee listed as $0.02, and that might seem uncommonly generous, but then there will be a “Capture” line that lists a fee of $0.07, and then a “Settlement” fee of $0.01, bringing the fees up to a total of $0.10. Other times, things will be combined already; for another example, you might see a line that reads “Authorize and Capture” with a fee of $0.06, and below that a “Settlement” fee of $0.02, making the total front-end transaction cost $0.08.

Since this is kind of complicated, you usually won't bother to break things down for merchants. As you explain things to them, just tell them about the total transaction fee and don't have them worry about the details. For you personally, though, these broken down fees will mean a lot more because they can certainly affect your residuals. To illustrate how your fees can make a huge difference in your profit margin, let's say you have a portfolio of 100 merchants and, on average, they perform 500 transactions per month per merchant. Now, let's say that you charge $0.10 for your transaction fee. With 50,000 transactions, that means you are grossing $5,000 in revenue every month. How much of that will you keep? Well, if you're being charged $0.05 total per item by your processor, then your margins are 50%, and you take home $2,500. However, if your fees per item are $0.08, then you're only making $1,000 per month in profit. That's quite a difference. As you can see, your profit margins will depend largely on your fees, so you need to stay on top of them.

Settlement Fees and Batch Fees - If you think that your Schedule A gets less confusing after all that authorization and capture stuff, then you're in for an unpleasant surprise. You might find that in addition to a settlement fee per item, there is also a fee per “batch.” The point of this fee may not be immediately obvious, but it's basically like this:

For instance, maybe one of your merchants performs 100 transactions via credit card one day. You would be charged a settlement fee that applies “per item” for each of these individual transactions. When your merchant is closing up for the day, however, and they settle by sending the batch of daily transactions to the processor, then there will also be a “batch fee.”

More than likely, your processor will have this fee on the Schedule A. Almost all of them do, so be sure to look at this section for how much you are being charged and pass the cost onto your merchant accordingly. As another example, your processor might charge $0.07 per batch (your cost), and you might decide to charge your merchant $0.25 per batch (your revenue). In this case, you're making $0.18 in profit whenever that terminal is settled at the end of the day.

Bank Identification Number (BIN) Sponsorship - You might find this section expressed a few different ways. All this really means is that your processor is keeping a tiny percentage of the profits (measured usually in a few basis points) before they give you your share. In case you were wondering what a basis point is, it's just 1% of 1%, or 1/100th of 1/100th (1%) if you want to break it down. So for instance, let's say your merchant processes $20,000. If the BIN sponsorship fee is 5 basis points, then your processor is keeping $10.00 before giving you your share of the profit.

Now, there are definitely more items on your Schedule A than just these, but they're the key lines that you should keep a close eye on, and they're the basic items that you will find with most processors. For information about other sections that may appear on your Schedule A, you should ask your processor for an explanation. In essence, these three line items are important because they are what is going to determine how much you charge your merchant. As with any business, you're going to have to deal with costs compared to your revenue, which is what determines profit—and the fees are basically your cost. You're going to use your Schedule A as a detailed list of your costs, and from there you can come up with a fair and profitable fee schedule for your merchants. That difference between revenue (the fees your merchant pays) and cost (the fees your processor charges) every month is what will give you your merchant residuals.

Download PDF: How your Schedule A works | How Much Money Can You Make Selling Merchant Services

Selling Your Merchant Services Business | Overview
Wednesday, December 16 2020

There are lots of reasons why building a merchant services business can be extremely lucrative, not the least of which is the fact that you can build a lasting asset (your residuals), which you can then sell. In fact, I spoke to someone in the industry today, and he was telling me all about his plan when he leaves the business and how he's planning to sell his residuals. What that conversation made me realize, though, is that lots of people underestimate the power of those residuals. The best thing you can do with this income is to use it as capital.

To be able to sell your business in the long-run, you need to make sure that you start the business the right way in the first place. There are some major things you're going to have to take into consideration so that your company is able to grow:

1) Own your portfolio's residuals. Maybe this seems very transparently obvious to you; after all, what's the point if you don't own your source of income? However, it's not uncommon that sales agents will lose their entire portfolio simply because they did not read the agreement that they made with their processor closely enough. You should always consider what might happen if you just decide to stop selling; if the answer is that you will lose your hard-earned residuals, then choose another partner.

2) Be able to sell your residuals. If you can't sell something, do you really own it, then? Sometimes processors will require you to have to consider an offer from them before selling to an outsider, and that's fine, but just make sure you are free to choose.

3) Find out if you can borrow cash against your residuals. A large ISO that isn't operating as a middle man should be able to lend you money. If they can't, this is a problem. Usually, you're going to want to exhaust several options before a buyout, and this includes borrowing.

So let's assume you have all of these issues squared away and are the proud owner of a growing portfolio of accounts. Now you can start to use that asset to raise some capital!

Before you do anything else, though, take a look at these general guidelines that will help you get a better picture of what is going on when the selling occurs:

Do you qualify? Don't bother trying to pump any cash from your portfolio before you have at least two dozen accounts or so. Make sure that your accounts are making at least $1000 every month as well. You will be hard pressed to find anyone who would want to buy residuals less than this.

Performing a buyout: When you perform an 100% upfront buyout, you'll get about 12 to 20 times the monthly worth of the accounts that you're selling. This is a rough estimate, but adjust your expectations accordingly.

Performing an earn-out: Basically, this is the same as a buyout, except you get less upfront. Some of the money is upfront, and the rest is sent to you in increments with the stipulation that your accounts don't get canceled and that they continue brining in a certain amount of money. This will yield you more than a buyout in the long run—about 20 to 24 times your monthly income.

Performing a secure buyout: Let's say you have a significantly-sized portfolio and you only want to sell some of your residuals. You can sell some of those accounts, and then use your others as collateral essentially to guarantee against any cancellations. This means less risk for the processor, so they are usually willing to pay more.

Getting a loan: Maybe you just need to borrow some liquid cash and use your residuals as a guarantee. Most ISOs can do this for you. Usually, you can borrow anywhere from a few months to up to a year's worth of residuals. The terms will vary depending on your merchant services ISO program. Since of course your ISO will be interested in minimizing risk, just show that you are using the funds to grow, and you'll have a better chance at getting the deal you want. Your ISO will also usually offer better terms than outside lenders.

Did this article help you learn more about how to turn your portfolio into a machine that pumps out capital? Do you have a portfolio that you're looking to use right now for these sorts of purposes? Contact us and we'll show you the way.

Download PDF: Using Your Portfolio as a Source of Capital – Selling Your Processing Business ​

What is the Best Credit Card Processing Agent ISO Program?
Thursday, December 10 2020

If you are ready to dive into the world of becoming a credit card processing ISO, then you are probably on the prowl for the best credit card processing ISO program. The merchant processing industry is a lucrative one, but only when the ISO chooses the right partner to operate under. The credit card processing program that you choose to operate under can have a big impact on your earnings, quality of business, range of potential clients, payout frequency, and many other parts of your business that should be considered essential. This short guide will give you the information that you need to select the best credit card processing ISO program in the industry and will even give you a bit of information about who we feel has the best credit card processing ISO program and why.

 

Why is it important to select the best credit card processing ISO program?

It is important to pick out the best credit card processing ISO program because the program that you choose will have some very drastic effects on the income that you are able to earn and other aspects of your business. If you want to set your business up for success in merchant processing, then choosing the ISO program that you are going to be operating under is a highly essential part of that process.

 

Each ISO program attempts to achieve relatively the same thing, but with different benefits and results that attract different types of clients and merchants. You should never assume that all ISO agent programs are the same and have the same benefits, rates, payouts, and other incentives to get you to use their ISO program. Carefully screen the specifications of each program to actually find the program that is right for you.

 

Is it the same for everyone?

When it comes to finding the best credit card processing ISO program in the industry, the truth is that there is no one answer that fits the needs of everyone. Each ISO program is different with their pay structures, marketing tools, and other resources that they give you to succeed in merchant services. So, the answer likely won’t be the same for everyone and will instead depend on what industry you’re in.

 

However, that’s not to say that some programs don’t rise above the rest. There are certainly programs out there that have displayed excellence time and time again, giving themselves an excellent reputation when it comes to payments, resources, and the other benefits that a particular program is able to offer.

 

While one program doesn’t usually fit all sizes, you can increase your chances of having success as an ISO by picking out a program that has repeatedly exceeded expectations and set the gold standard when it comes to credit card processing ISO programs.

 

What to look for in a credit card processing ISO program

When you are in the process of selecting a credit card processing ISO program, there are some select features that you should be examining to ensure you find the right program for you. Here are some of the features that you should look for when screening potential ISO programs for your ISO to partner with and offer merchant services.

Payout

When you partner with an ISO program, you definitely want to make sure that they pay accurately and that they pay on time. Closing sales as an ISO won’t help you unless you are actually being paid your residuals and commissions that are due to you. Make sure that the company that you work with has a reputation for paying on time.

Residuals

A very important factor that you should take into consideration when selecting an ISO program to work with is what the residual rate is. These rates range from 50%-75% and are the backbone of your business. Earning residuals is often passive after the initial setup, so be sure that you are getting as big of a share of them as possible before moving forward.

Marketing Advantages

When you partner with an ISO program, you want to be sure that the program you select has the tools and resources to make you more successful in merchant services. This includes the access that they give you to their marketing materials, initiatives, promotions, and literature that you can use to sway clients into signing on with your ISO.

 

 

Who has the best ISO program in the industry?

If you’re looking to partner with the best in the business, then you can’t do much better than the Shaw Merchant Group. The Shaw Merchant Group has continuously proven their excellence and the quality of their ISO program. This ISO program has many benefits including high residual rates, prompt and accurate payments, and the ability to help market your services and provide you with the resources you need to close more sales. Choose Shaw Merchant Group if you want to set up your ISO for success now and in the future.

Merchant Services Agent ISO Agreements | How to Guide
Monday, December 07 2020

Becoming a merchant services agent or an ISO is a major step, so it's important that you know the various pitfalls that you might face when working with credit card processing companies as an agent. Especially if you're relatively new to the business, you should keep alert that you don't give in to agreements that could crumble your business prospects over the longterm. Here are some major factors that you will want to consider when signing contracts:

Don't Take on Liability - Unless you are already a large and experienced company that can bear the brunt of this kind of risk, don't allow yourself to make agreements that hold you liable for losses. As an MLS, this holds even more true. Don't take on more responsibility than you have the cash reserves to manage, or you may find your capital or residuals drying up.

It's fairly typical nowadays for programs to not require you to take on liability, so there's no reason for you to attempt this if you don't have the means. Make sure to watch out for the fine print, though, and examine the contract for any statements that imply any conditions where an credit card processing ISO would have to take responsibility for any loss.

Make Sure You Are Paid Your Residuals Frequently - Don't deal with a processor that won't send you your residuals on time, every time. If you sell an account, you should receive your cut as soon as possible in accordance with the payment schedule, and you shouldn't have to face a waiting period to receive those funds.

Another thing to avoid are minimum payment thresholds. For instance, you may have to wait until your residuals have accumulated to a certain amount before you are paid. Yes, this helps to cut costs somewhat for the processor, but this is the money that is going to be flowing through your business, so you are going to need it in a timely manner. You are owed what you are owed, and you should receive it regardless of how much or how little it is.

Make Sure You Own Your Residuals - If you can't transfer or sell your residual income, you don't really own it. The bank or processor might own the merchant account, but you should own the residuals. These residuals are the lifeblood of your business, and without them, you won't have an asset that keeps paying you even when things slow down or you decide to leave the industry. Ideally, you should be able to sell them, keep them, use them as collateral for loans, or even pass them off as an inheritance. They should function like any other investment.

This issue can become especially dire if you find that you are unable to work or you pass into the next life unexpectedly. In such a case, you will need to be able to transfer that residual stream to new bank accounts.

Make Sure Your Agreement Isn't Exclusive - If you allow yourself to be taken in by a contract that demands your exclusivity, especially if you are new to the industry, then you have just entered an unhappy marriage of sorts. It might not be that you even dislike the processor that you're working with, but you are at a disadvantage if you can't see what else is out there. You never know when you'll be able to find a better deal or a more flexible company to work with. It's perfectly fine to have multiple relationships with many companies before you settle down with your favorite, and an exclusivity deal is going to hinder that, so make sure that you look over the contract closely.

Be Sure That Your Can Sell Your Residuals to Someone Other Than Your Processor - Again, if you can't sell your residuals or transfer them to someone else, you don't really own them. However, some processors have clauses in their contacts that compel you to sell your merchant account residuals only to them. This is obviously problematic if your processor isn't in the mood to buy.

Now, it's not out of the question if your processor demands the right to give you an offer before anyone else. Just make certain that aside from this, you can sell your residuals.

Think of the Future - Remember that companies always change, so you're probably going to want to consider a few things before you make an agreement. Where is this company headed? Are they likely to go through a merger or are they likely to be bought out by another company in the near future? This could potentially affect your residual income, so it's important.

Make sure that the agreement you make protects your residuals. If circumstances change, there are a few things that you can do, such as taking a buyout from your processor, taking one from a third party, or continuing under your current contract, which should be honored by the processor regardless of a merger. You may not be able to sell new accounts under the old Schedule A in such a case, but you should be able to continue getting paid in a similar fashion as before for the deals that you already closed.

They Should Not Force You to Buy Their Hardware - Your processor should not demand that you only buy equipment from them, and you should be free to choose your supplier. Now, it's perfectly fine if the processor gives you incentives to buy from them, such as heavy discounts, but you should not be forced to do this as per your contract.

Be Sure Their Reporting is Accurate - The rates of a given processor may be great, but that means nothing if they're actually charging you much more in hidden fees. You should be able to look up reports of what fees they are charging you and what residuals you are receiving, and the actual numbers that show up in your bank account should match this.

Go with a processor that offers the opportunity to look at reports online. This will help make everything more clear.

Never Pay to Become a Sales Agent - As in any other field, if you must pay upfront to join a sales team, then something fishy is going on. Don't fall for programs that charge you for training; there are plenty out there that offer similar amenities for free. There is simply no reason why you should have to do this, so be wary and steer clear from these kinds of processors.

Find a Company That Communicates Well - One of the most important things in any relationship—business or otherwise—is having good lines of communication. You should be able to have your questions always answered and your concerns addressed in a timely manner.

Also make sure that you have access to the management of the company that you're working with. This will help you get what you need much faster and it will also help avoid miscommunication. Going through all the members of the company's hierarchy can be like a game of “telephone,” after all, and things can get distorted.

Finding a processor to work with when you're starting out can be overwhelming, but it helps to know that there are many good ones in the industry. The key is to try many different companies and eventually find one that you can build a strong, long-term relationship with. If you're still having trouble finding the right one for you, though, feel free to get into contact with North American Bancard, and we'll help you out.

Sneaky Secrets of Credit Card Processing Companies
Tuesday, December 01 2020

As you might already realize, when it comes to the world of financial transactions, the devil is in the details. You have to stay on top of the fine print, or you may find yourself getting taken for a ride that you didn't sign up for.

Companies always go out of their way to tell you what you want to hear when they are trying to recruit you, so you'll no doubt hear all about their great features, their superior technology, and how low their rates are. However, this doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of other things that they're strategically sweeping under the rug. It's not that they're being dishonest exactly, it's just that they're probably not going to tell you the whole story.

This is especially an issue when you're a smaller enterprise, as you're basically the model victim for tiny, fine print fees since you likely don't have a dedicated legal department. Many processors will attempt to nickel and dime you, and you might quickly realize that the fee schedule that you were shown while you were being sold the merchant account isn't what you're actually being charged.

According to experts at Shaw Merchant Group, there are a few different kinds of hidden fees that a credit card processor can slip into your transactions without your realizing. Sometimes it's so under the radar, that you may go through the life of your account without even realizing that they're there. This is usually perfectly legal, as the fees are likely accounted for in various clauses in your contact—though the processor is probably not too keen on pointing them out until after you've signed up.

Here are some examples:

Withholding a Certain Amount of Money - A lot of the time, especially in high risk accounts, the processor may want to accumulate a certain amount of cash from your transactions as security against charge backs or fraudulent activity. You can basically think of this as a sort of deposit that the credit card company may accumulate without even so much as consulting you about it first.

Withdrawing from Your Checking Account - Sometimes it is convenient to allow a credit card processor to automatically deposit the cash from your credit card sales into your bank account, but this also gives them the power to withdraw money from it too, without necessarily notifying you about it first. This money might be used to cover any fees that you owe them, any penalties, or they may even take money out for the purposes of withholding (as mentioned above). If you like having control over your checking account, obviously this is something of a problem.

Fees for Terminating Your Account Early - For the most part, if you as a merchant have signed a contract with an ISO, you are stuck with them for the life of the contract, unless you want to pay a few hundred dollars to terminate early. This isn't quite so bad, but often it doesn't stop there. You may also have to pay the processor for the fees that they would have collected throughout the rest of the contract, and that obviously can be a hefty sum.

Making You Lease Equipment - A lot of ISO's will push you to lease their equipment, even if it's more expensive in the long run than just simply buying your own. It often will also lock you in with a specific provider, since the length of the lease can last for years and you may not be able to cancel it. This puts you in the position of trying to decide whether you should pay the high price of breaking the lease or simply wait it out until it is over.

Not Offering Interchange Plus - Interchange plus is a less costly way of processing transactions, but many providers will not offer this to you. Make sure that you ask about it beforehand, or you may not be getting your money's worth.

Offering Promises That Are Not in Writing - It's terrible, but sometimes what the sales agent told you while he was trying to get you to close the deal may not agree with what is actually written in the contract. Whether it was an honest mistake or he intentionally misled you, there are often clauses in the contract that specify that the provider will not honor verbal deals of this kind. This is why it's important to read over the contract and not allow yourself to believe anything that an agent tells you if he is not willing to back it up in writing.

Even better, stick to providers and agents that you know you can trust. Shaw Merchant Group, for example, can help you to get in contact with the right people and the right companies that will treat you with dignity and honesty.

Perform your due diligence and research any company that you're planning to do business with as well. It's harder these days than ever for shady companies to not leave evidence of their burned customers, since the world is so connected. Look to see what other merchants have said about the company. Look for reviews or any complaints that other business owners may have made.

Other than that, keep your eyes peeled for certain obvious signs in the contract that you may charged much more than you might have assumed. When you're reading through the paperwork, look for the word “damages” and examine that area particularly closely. Anything that makes you liable for some unspecified amount if you break the contract early is bad news. If you can't ascertain what the price of canceling early will actually be and this sort of language is used, then it's likely to be an astronomical amount. Steer clear of this sort of company.

If you're still confused about who to turn to for your merchant account, or if you're a sales agent who is concerned for your clients' interests and you're looking for an honest processor to partner with, then feel free to get into contact with Shaw Merchant Group.

Download PDF: Sneaky Secrets of Credit Card Processing Companies

Best Cash Discount Program for Agents, ISOs, and Resellers
Wednesday, July 01 2020

For agents and resellers that work with merchants for their merchant services, it is known that the happier that you can make your client, the better. There are several ways that you can do so, but one of the most surefire ways to provide your merchants with as many benefits as possible when working with your merchant services company is to provide them with a cash discount program that helps to make the cost of accepting payments as inexpensive as possible. In addition to saving the merchant money on their transactions, you can also earn more as an agent by signing up your merchants for this program and earning incentives and bonuses that come along with it. If you’re looking for the best cash discount program from all perspectives, then you should set your sights on the North American Bancard EDGE Merchant Cash Discount Program. This innovative program contains plenty of benefits for the agent, merchant, and consumer.

 

What makes the North American Bancard EDGE Merchant Cash Discount Program the best?

There are a number of features that have helped to vault this cash discount program into the first position when you consider the best cash discount programs currently available to merchants around the world. Here are just some of the benefits that you and the merchant will enjoy when you decide to use this cash discount program.

 

No cost to the merchant

The main draw of this program is that it is going to help put more money in the pockets of the businesses that you are working with. Your merchants will be able to experience higher profits because the EDGE Cash Discount Program is designed to eliminate the processing fees for merchants to profit the same on credit and signature debit transactions that they do on cash transactions. If a merchantlooks at what they spend annually in order to process electronic payments, those savings will adsup.

 

With the EDGE cash discount program, merchants won’t have to worry about those expenses because they are being recouped in the higher price for signatue credit and debit puchases. This is a great selling point for your merchants because it enables them to recoup a cost that they would otherwise have to pay and saves thier business money. There is no cost to ebroll for the program, so they only have money to gain from enrolling in the program.

 

No contract

Another major benefit to the merchant is that there is no contract associated with the EDGE cash discount program. That means that even if merchants want to try it out for a few months to see the effects on their business, they can do this without fearing having to get locked into a long contract.

 

As an agent, this allows you to quickly and easily build trust with your merchants. You can show them the power that the EDGE cash discount program can have on their revenue without having to lock them into a contract or pressure them to do something they don’t want to do. With a free, no-cost, no-obligation program, your merchant will feel as comfortable with you as ever.

 

Free equipment

In addition to the no-obligation and no-cost contract with this trailblazing cash discount program, you'll also be able to offer your merchant free equipment to help make the transition easier for their business. This all begins at the POS system, which is the channel through which every transaction in the business flows. You'll be able to offer your merchant an updated POS system that has everything they need to make the switch to the EDGE cash discount program in a smooth and organized manner.

 

Apart from the POS system, you will also be able to offer signage and marketing materials to your merchants to help them advertise and raise awareness for the program. These materials help everyone to feel on the same team and help your merchants feel as if they have the resources that they need to succeed.

 

Easy to explain

One of the main challenges that merchants face when trying to change the way that they accept payments and charge their customers is the ease with which they can explain the change to their loyal customers. Merchants are not easily convinced to make a major change for fear of angering their long-term customers or confusing them. This giant hurdle is what holds many merchants back from moving forward or making productive changes.

 

With the EDGE program, you’ll have what you need to convince merchants that it won’t be a large leap when it comes to the trust and relationship between them and their customers. The EDGE program is a very simple, easy-to-understand program that won’t confuse buyers and will make merchants very happy.

 

How it works

To help our agents and merchants further understand the complete process of the EDGE cash discount program, here is a short guide of what you can expect to happen when the EDGE cash program is implemented.

 

Paying with cash

With the EDGE program, paying for an item with cash will be relatively unchanged. Customers will see the advertised price of the item, go to the register, hand the cashier their cash, and purchase their item. They will pay the lower price.

 

Paying with plastic

Paying with plastic will be a slightly different process than before. To encourage consumers to use cash and recoup expenses associated with electronic payment methods, a second, slightly higher price is charged on the item at checkout, increasing the cost of the purchase for the consumer. In this situation, the consumer is able to use the convenience of plastic and the merchant is able to recoup those expenses that are incurred when accepting cards to help their business and increase their margin.

Placing Free Credit Card Terminals VS Leasing Credit Card Terminals
Saturday, June 20 2020

When you are selling merchant accounts or looking for a merchant services agent program to work with, one of the major things that you will have to consider is whether you want to offer your customers free terminals or whether you want to offer them a leasing deal. As with so many other factors in this business, it really depends on the specific customer. You must spend some time examining their needs before you can decide which option to sell them. You will find that different merchants have different goals, as well as different amounts of capital that they can provide upfront.

You might also notice that, more and more, merchants will expect that at least their basic, entry-level terminals will be free to use. Lots of newer, innovative merchant service companies have taken to lending free equipment to their customers, as well as supporting the hardware and software for free, so you will want to take this into consideration as well.

Let's go over what these two options really are in a bit more detail:

Free Terminals - “Free” isn't exactly accurate here, since the merchant doesn't really keep the equipment. Basically, they are allowed by the service provider to borrow the POS terminal at no charge until they end their contract, and then the equipment is returned. You can think of this as being similar to how many broadband Internet companies loan routers or modems to their customers, which are then returned when the customer terminates their service.

This is an easy option for many businesses, especially those that are just opening their doors, because it requires essentially no upfront cost. There are sometimes monthly fees tacked onto this option, such as the cost to insure the machine, but for the most part, the merchant pays a lot less than they would have if they opted to buy their own equipment. Since POS terminals can be expensive, this is not a bad option for you to suggest to very lean startups.

Always make sure that a merchant services partner program that you are signing up with has some kind of free terminal plan, since a lot of merchants will want this. “Free” is also not a very hard sell, so you might find that it will be easier to close deals with a loaned terminal. Your job is first and foremost to sell your clients on the merchant account, and you will want to do everything in your power to make it easier for them to use it—that means making it easy for them to get the terminal that they need.

Leasing Terminals - With the popularity of free terminals, this has sort of fallen out of favor as of late, but it still has a certain amount of relevancy. Some merchants want to have their own equipment, and this could be for a number of reasons. Most commonly, a merchant may simply want to be able to switch service providers without going through the arduous process of re-learning how to use a completely new terminal.

Leasing terminals is not without its problems, however. Compared to simply buying a terminal outright, leasing one may actually be a raw deal for the merchant. Because they will be paying little by little for their equipment, they may not even notice that their money is trickling away over the course of months or years, and that they might end up paying five or ten times the market price for their POS system. It's nice to make small monthly payments, but as business owners, these merchants can't afford the delusion that those costs don't add up.

On the other end of things, leasing equipment can make lots of money for an ISO and a merchant services sales agent. Just as those monthly fees add up for the merchant, they can add up for the agent, and leasing equipment can mean a handsome addition to ones residuals. The bigger question is, however, should you sell merchants on such an unfavorable deal?

In general, the answer is no. Now, not all leasing deals are bad. Some equipment is actually quite cost-effective, especially modern, more simple POS systems that are based on popular mobile operating systems and touch interfaces. The leasing options from popular service providers are sometimes quite fair. However, there are still a lot of merchant service companies in existence that use these tactics to rip off potential merchants, and it's best that you avoid associating with them.

Your goal should be to build a long-term, sustainable relationship with your merchants. After all, this is what is going to give you sustainable, long-term residuals month after month. Being honestly concerned with your merchant's problems and offering them the best solution is also what will get you repeat business whenever it is time for them to buy added value products and services. You will want to cultivate trust, and it is difficult for a merchant to trust you if they feel that you have been trying to take them for all they have right from the beginning.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with selling a fair leasing option to a merchant if that is what they honestly want. By all means, listen carefully to the client's needs, and if you feel that leasing a terminal is a better fit than providing one for free, then give them what they need.

Regardless of what option you ultimately decide to give to your merchants, remember that no terminal is the least bit useful if your clients don't know how to use it. Make sure to partner with a company that not only offers various terminal options for your clients, but that has great training material and customer service to get your customers up to speed. After all, the sooner they are using your terminals to take in revenue, the sooner both you and the merchant service company can start seeing a new income stream. Make sure that your clients get what they need from the beginning, and you will be rewarded with few complaints, a strong reputation, and a consistent stream of residuals trickling into your bank account every month.

The best merchant services agent ISO reseller program is North American Bancard Agent Program. Choosing North American Bancard as your primary merchant services partner with earn you the largest commissions, give you access to the most powerful industry sales tools, and total sales support for you and your merchants. 

Download PDF: Placing Free Credit Card Terminals VS Leasing Credit Card Terminals​

Using Urgency When Selling Merchant Services
Sunday, May 31 2020

If you have past sales experience, that's often a plus, but a lot of the time there can be aspects of your past that will give you a disadvantage. For example, if you used to sell mortgages, you didn't have to worry too much about creating a sense of urgency, since people were already a little desperate because their new house was on the line. It's not too different if you're selling the actual houses either; if someone has sought out a real estate agent, they're looking to buy. The same goes with selling cars, since many of the people who are coming to you really need a new one and can't go very long without transportation. Your job would be a lot harder if you had to go up to random people on the street—or worse, random people getting out of their cars in a parking garage—and ask them if they needed a new car. Sounds ridiculous? Well, this is basically what your life is like when you're selling merchant services. This is why the mindset is completely different in this field.

Obviously, there are positive and negative aspects to this. Once you have convinced a merchant that he'd do better to change to your plan, making the actual deal is usually smooth. Just don't mess up, and you'll have a good closing rate. Another great aspect of this business is that once you convince a merchant that they need to change their processor, they will probably buy those services from you and not another random agent. This is all great, but unfortunately creating the sense of urgency that will get them to make a change is one of your biggest challenges.

Let's take a look at these guidelines that will help you create more urgency when selling merchant accounts to your prospects:

1) More prospects = more sales. You are going to have to accept that you will have to deal with a much higher volume of prospects than in other fields to close a decent amount of deals. If you used to sell mortgages, for instance, your conversion rate is probably high—maybe as high as 1/3 of your prospects. A big reason as to why this is comes down to the fact that your clients already have decided what they want to buy and are coming to you for help.

If you find a quality lead, the conversion rate is actually about the same when you're in merchant services, but the problem is that you will have to go through many people to find quality leads. You might walk into two dozen stores, but only find yourself able to talk to 20% of the owners, and only 10% of the stores you walked into had genuinely good prospects. A good prospect is someone who realizes that they could use your services and is eager to explore the options. This is why you shouldn't get discouraged if you find that you're having to visit tons of businesses just to make some progress. This is how the game is played.

2) Take it a step at a time. When you first make your pitch, you want them to reach a point of understanding that they need to make a change; don't rush them into make the full decision just yet. Your job at first is just to convince them that they would be better off with another service. Yes, you might be able to convince them of this and close the deal in the same session after you've had some practice, but these are still distinct steps. Just make sure that you don't make the assumption that the merchant wants a different processor—at the moment, they're probably not even thinking about it. You will have to convince them. The problem of course is that most merchants don't even think of this as a problem. They already put together their processing solution and they don't need to worry about it anymore, as far as they are concerned. They would rather put their attention elsewhere.

How can you overcome that default resistance and make them open to the possibility of switching? Well, you should show them that you're not trying to throw a wrench in their plans or rip them off. Let them know that you are only showing them how much they could save if they reconsider, and that they can use your service if they want to. Try to focus on convincing them that they need to switch more than that they need to go with you specifically. Tell the client straight up that you are not interested in signing them up that day. They should be under the impression that you are interested in getting to know their needs better, and that you are merely opening them up to the cost-saving possibilities of finding a better credit card processor.

3) Have some kind of bonus or offer. People like being just in time for “special” deals, and this can create a huge sense of urgency if it is available only for a limited time. Since you will have to get them out of that “analysis paralysis” mode and into a decision, it will help them to focus on closing the deal if you have some kind of time limit like that. As soon as you convince them that they need to make a change, you can start discussing your various juicy offers. Let's look at a few different routes that you could take:

Give them a Free Cash Gift – They may be a business owner, but chances are that they're pouring all of their personal resources into the business. It may not seem like much, but offering them something like a gift card or cash back when they make their account will certainly entice them. Make sure to start out letting them know that they won't have to pay any fees upfront if you work with a free terminal program or something similar, and then throw the free money on top of that to sweeten the deal. It doesn't have to be a huge amount of money—just 100 dollars will suffice—and you can easily take this out of your upfront signing bonus. Make it a point to mention this deal in your advertising. Basically, the merchant has nothing to lose here, and will actually make money upfront from the deal.

Give them a free terminal – Believe it or not, there are still merchant services ISOs out there that do not offer free terminals with their deals. This can be for a number of reasons, but generally-speaking you want to steer clear of these companies when you're choosing a partner. Make sure that there is an option to offer a free terminal to the merchant, since this removes a major upfront cost. Much of the resistance that you will encounter has to do with these upfront costs and whether or not the merchant has the liquid cash to cover them. Bring a terminal in personally if you can to show them an example of what they can have for free. Tell them you're offering it temporarily. Guarantee Them Monthly Savings – You need to first consult with them and look at how much they pay in fees to pull this one off. Tell them that you can save them a certain amount of basis points per month of the competitors. Find out how much processing they do, and multiply it by however many basis points you are claiming to save them. Just make sure that you don't work with very large merchants here, or else it could cost you too much money.

Once you have established how much they are going to save with you per month, make sure to zoom out and show them the big picture. Tell them how much they are going to save over the course of a year or two years. Discuss these big, long-term numbers instead of the tiny savings of 10 or 20 dollars that you might be able to pull off every month. These bigger numbers are certainly more motivating, and will get them to consider your offer much more readily, especially if some of the other offers above are included.

Hopefully, these tips have enlightened you at least a little bit as to how you can create urgency in your prospects. Do you still have questions? Let us know! Contact us anytime and we will be happy to help you.

Final Tip: Choosing the right partner in the merchant services business is key. We reccommend setting up your agent office with North American Bancard Agent Program. The award winning ISO sales partner program is your go to for becoming successful as a merchant services sales representative.

Download PDF: Using Urgency When Selling Merchant Services​


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    Disclaimer

    © Shaw Merchant Group, LLC. Our goal is to gather accurate, updated information and assist you in your research. We recommended that you check with your service provider or financial institution directly and get independent financial advice before making any commitments or business decisions. 

    Company logos, names, and trademarks mentioned on this site belong to their respective owners.

    All merchant related services and products are referred to North American Bancard for first right of refusal. All information generated on this site is shared with NAB. North American Bancard is a registered ISO of Wells Fargo Bank N.A., Walnut Creek CA, of BMO Harris N.A., Chicage, IL and The Bancorp, Philadelphia, PA.