Ring, Ring, Ring! Ring, Ring, Ring! Ring, Ring, Ring!

If you’re a business owner, you know that jingle isn’t Santa Claus. It’s probably another merchant services solicitation call, one you get every single week.

In the book I wrote about the payment processing industry, I reveal 25 questions you need to ask merchant services providers to find the best one for your business and situation. Where most businesses fail when it comes to shopping for their merchant account is they don’t answer these questions first.

  • Other than getting a better rate, what do I want to see improve?

If you want a better rate, you could just ask your provider to lower your fees. If your sales have gone up since you last became a customer, you may be in line to ask for a reduction in your merchant services fees. When evaluating your payment processing, think about it in terms other than price. This is important because the cheapest provider might take longer to deposit your money, might have more frequent system outages, and may not meet the security standards necessary to prevent a credit card data breach, an event that could cost you your business. Before you begin your search, take some time to reflect on what would help you streamline how your systems run, how your customers are currently paying you, and what type of relationship you want with your payment provider.

  • What payment technology would improve my business processes?

Advancements in payment processing technology have made it easier for businesses to accept payments from customers, and in many cases, shortened the time it takes businesses to get paid. Are you currently accepting AndroidPay or ApplePay? I recently forgot my wallet at home and had to go without a purchase I was going to make because Target hadn’t upgraded to ApplePay yet. Are you taking payments by phone? It may be the perfect time to add online payments or email invoicing to your systems so you can spend less time handling payments and empower your customers to pay you on their mobile device or computer.

  • What are my expectations of customer service?

Poor customer service is the most common complaint I hear from merchants looking to switch their merchant services. The best way to set your business up for success is to set a standard for the type of customer service you expect to receive. Setting a standard will allow you to ask providers how they handle support and evaluate what their existing customers say about their customer service. This will prevent you from wasting time chasing your provider around. I recently tried to connect a business owner to a point-of-sale provider and the point-of-sale company never called me back after I reached out several times. I will never attempt to refer another business to them as they don’t meet my standards for customer service. If you won’t call back for a sale, how do you treat the customers you already have? I, like most successful entrepreneurs, am willing to pay a little more if it means I will be treated well as a customer.

  • How is the relationship with my current provider?

You may already have a quality relationship, or you may have just an 800 number that you call when you need help. This is important to consider when you are evaluating your merchant services. Consider what concerns you have about your current relationship as you’re evaluating your services. How long does it take for your provider to return your call? Do you have an account manager? Do you like them? How have they helped you improve your business over the years? Many of the most successful businesses I’ve worked with have expressed wanting a quality relationship with the company handling their transactions. As providers have all reduced their price, successful business owners are now looking for payment providers that can bring more value to the relationship than just cheap rates. Take some time to consider how your experience has been and think about what you want it to look like in the future. You may find that it’s perfect the way it is and there is no need to shop your services.

  • How much profit is my current provider earning to provide and support my merchant account?

Knowing the answer to this question will help you avoid chasing savings that aren’t realistic or possible. In fact, once you’ve answered all the previous questions, this question can provide you with context to your existing relationship. Are you paying a premium while getting poor service in return? Are you trying to enhance your existing technology? We recently helped an eCommerce retailer save $29,000 annually so they could reinvest their savings in an anti-fraud solution. Your business may have other expenses that are non-related to credit card processing like sales training, marketing, or employee benefits. Imagine being able to redistribute a portion of your credit card fees to resolve a challenge within your organization, enabling you to build a stronger more successful business. The process of changing your payment processing provider can become a strategic initiative that creates value instead of only reducing costs.

I encourage you to seek out a payment processing provider that has competitive pricing, quality support, and easy to use technology, not just the lowest promises. You want your provider to have something to lose, if there’s no fear of loss financially, you may find it difficult to find the level of service you expect. If customer service doesn’t matter to you then, by all means, look for the lowest bidder. If you need help finding out how much profit your provider is earning to provide your merchant account, download a free copy of “The Truth About Accepting Credit Cards” or contact us.