Is Square Bullying Entrepreneurs?

Is Square Bullying Entrepreneurs?

According to an article published by TechCrunch, we’re in the midst of a great revolution in the technology and payment processing industry. With the rapid advancements taking place with payments, social media, eCommerce, email, and text messaging all converging on one device, business owners finally have available to them the opportunity to get an actual ROI when it comes to credit card processing, unless they are using Square.

This is an opportunity many business owners, especially in the restaurant and retail space, are completely missing the boat on because it has to do with big data and analytics, something they probably aren’t all that interested in. The light bulb in my head turned on when I read this paragraph though:

Payment companies can utilize data from existing transactions to generate more transactions. Companies who maintain a direct relationship with the consumer — such as American Express, PayPal, Square, Discover, etc — are in the perfect position to serve as an Amazon recommendation system for “everything.” Did you buy a tennis racket at Sports Authority? How about tennis lessons with Saul the tennis pro, at a discount thanks to your purchase of a tennis racket, only redeemable with the same payment instrument? You weren’t searching for Saul, and you wouldn’t want an unsolicited email from Saul, but seeing an advertisement for Saul shortly after buying a tennis racket (say, on your purchase receipt) would likely produce a response. It’s a way to preempt search for a large class of “secondary” purchases (e.g., charcoal after buying a grill; tennis balls after buying a tennis racket, etc), in a “pull” based way.

In a nutshell, payment processing companies can leverage cardholder data to drive additional sales by collecting the purchase data and remarketing additional products and services to the consumer based on their purchase history.

You’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with my Square Register? I’ll get to that but before we get there, let’s talk a little bit about the value of an email address. Here’s what Neil Patel, co-founder of KissMetrics and Top 10 marketer according to Forbes, had to say about email:

“Out of all the channels I’ve tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them. Not only does it have a high conversion rate, but as you build up your list you can continually monetize it by pitching multiple products. Just look at e-commerce sites like Amazon, one way they get you to continually buy more products from them is by emailing you offers on a regular basis.”

So what does this have to do with Square?

Well when you decided to plug your Square POS system in at your place of business, you decided to give up ownership of your most valuable asset, your client list, and their payment data. As your customers frequent your business over the next several years, they’ll ask you to email or text their receipts, a trend that is rapidly increasing as consumers continue to ditch paper and rely on mobile devices, tablets, and apps to organize their finances.

This is data that you can monetize to grow your own business and create unique experiences that allow you to further differentiate your business from your competitors. Data you can use to deepen the relationships you have with your customer by being able to send them an email that is customized to them. Data that allows you to understand what products and services are the most popular in your business at what times of the day. Data you can use to build and customize your loyalty program to attract ideal clients.

These are all processes you have the opportunity to own but instead will opt to purchase them back from Square, the company you gave the data to in the first place.

One of the most important assets in the new economy is the relationship you have with your clients, what you know about them, and what you do with what you know about them.

If you’re using Square, they know more about your customers than you do, because they own the phone numbers, email addresses, and ultimately the payment data that your clients gave you when you swiveled the register around to pay for your services.

There’s a reason they won’t allow you to export your customer data to your own CRM, they’re not your customers according to Square. Whoever owns the data, and leverages it to create additional value for the consumer, wins. Unfortunately, it won’t be the business owner using the Square Register.

If you’re happy with the functionality you get with Square but you would like to grow your business by leveraging your client data in a more efficient way, feel free to reach out. We can introduce you to several tablet-based point-of-sale solutions that will allow you to utilize your customer data to grow your enterprise, while also keeping the functionality you’re accustomed to.

Credit Card Processing: Who’s The Best?

Credit Card Processing: Who’s The Best?

Integrity. Ethical. Trusted. Secure. Honest. Innovative. Transparent. Reliable. Easy. The Best.

 

I know. Sounds compelling right?

Those were the words I consistently found when researching the leading credit card processing providers in the United States.

The interesting thing about the research I was doing is that I’ve had extensive personal experience with most of these credit card processing companies, and was very surprised some of them used the words ethical, transparent, or reliable to describe themselves.

No intent here to be negative, it’s just that there really aren’t any industry benchmarks that can help us determine who is truly reliable, transparent, and ethical. The words are nice and fuzzy, not actually tangible. It’s one of the revelations that came to me that fueled my decision to quit working for one of the largest credit card processors in America.

As a business owner and former employee of a major credit card processing company, I’ve had an opportunity to see the good, bad, and of course the ugly. I’ve reviewed thousands of credit card processing statements, helped hundreds of merchants quickly improve their systems, and have personally taken thousands of calls when my clients needed me the most.

I’ve worn the company hat. The company t-shirt. And if they had underwear swag, I would’ve worn that too. The company I sold for was an excellent company, but the reality is that there are at least a half-dozen very good payment processors operating here in the U.S.

So as a business owner, you’re probably wondering….

Who’s The Best?

I ask this question, not because I think it’s a legitimate question. I ask it because you probably get a call every week from a representative wanting to talk with you about your credit card processing. And what are they saying? Wait for it, Here it comes, “We have the best rates”, “We are the most ethical”, “We have the most clients”, “Look at who else is using our services”, “We have the best security”. Blah, blah, blah.

These credit card reps are rampant in the payments industry. It drove me bonkers being around some of the credit card processing representatives that my company used to hire. I just wanted to take a shower after my team lunches. I digress.

Back On Topic. Who’s The Best?

I promise you I thought it was the company I worked for. It isn’t. They aren’t the best. And guess what? It’s none of the providers I have agreements with either or any of their competitors. I promise. So I’m letting the secret out of the bag:

It’s………..They Don’t Exist!!!

There is no “Best” Credit Card Processor!

And when you have a credit card processing salesman show up in your office talking about how great they are, do yourself a favor and show them the door. What is critical for every business owner to have when evaluating their credit card processing is goals. Going for the lowest rates could be a goal I suppose but because rates are so easily misrepresented, I wouldn’t recommend focusing on rates.

When thinking about your credit card processing here are some questions every business owner should ask themselves:

1. Other than getting a better rate, what am I really after?

It’s important to ask this question because as I’ve evaluated the payment processors available here in the U.S., I’ve found that the rates really are all the same for the most part. Every business pays 1-2% of their gross sales to Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express regardless of their sales volumes. Everything above that goes to the company they signed their agreement with, also known as the acquirer. I encourage you to really think about what else you are looking for that would improve your situation, before you begin to entertain switching to a new provider.

2. In a perfect world, how would I like my customers to pay me?

With new payment technology like ApplePay, SamsungPay, BitPay increasing daily in consumer adoption, it’s a good time to think about whether these technologies are a good fit for your business. It’s also a great time to consider whether it makes sense to expand your payment channels via a mobile app or an online store. Because of the cost of implementing these new services, you can often have them added to your new account at a more competitive cost as companies will often give you a discount if you are implementing multiple products.

3. What are my expectations of customer service?

Expectations not being met are usually what has caused you to consider switching. Get clear on what you must have to be satisfied with a company’s approach to customer service. For some, it’s important to have a local, dedicated representative, for other’s they just want to know who to call when they really need help. Consider having your potential new company walk you through different scenarios you may face when trying to get help.

4. What is working well with my current provider, what isn’t?

Most of the clients that choose to work with us, choose to because they are looking for something they don’t currently have.  Sometimes they are interested in consolidating vendors, wanting their systems integrated, or they just want a human relationship. Take inventory of what you like about your current credit card processing relationship. You will likely want to continue to enjoy the benefits that are working well while improving upon the areas that aren’t going well. Have a list of things that you like and don’t like prepared for all meetings with potential new vendors, then interview them like you would a new employee.

5. How much is my provider getting paid to service my account and is it fair?

We believe you have a right to know how much your provider is earning on your account. How else will you know if it’s a fair deal or not? Knowing how much you are paying your provider, minus what goes to Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express, is important when you are trying to figure out how to lower your credit card processing costs. We have a process that is free for our clients that show them exactly what our partners pay us to manage their account. We’ve also made our process available to businesses that aren’t clients, for a minimal consulting fee.

6. How would I like my payments reconciled?

Many businesses have begun integrating their merchant account with their accounting systems so that their accounting teams can spend less time doing manual entry. Would you like to keep it standard with manual entry or would it be better to have your system automatically connected to Xero, Quickbooks, or Sage? Well, today you can. These are just a few of the enhancements merchants are experiencing as a result of innovation in the payment processing industry.

The revelation I ultimately came to when evaluating credit card processing providers to partner with was that, every processor we collaborate with today does something great. Whether it be their security, software solutions, or funding schedules, each processor does something unique and valuable for the merchants we serve. When choosing a payment processing company to partner with, it’s about two parties coming together to determine if what the provider has to offer is a good fit for the direction the merchant is wanting to take their business. When that conversation happens, then it’s magic and you find YOUR best payment processor.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you are wanting to evaluate your credit card processing. If you’d like to learn more about the untruths credit card processing companies use to profit, download a copy of our unbiased report on the industry!

B2B Payment Processing: Are You Overpaying?

B2B Payment Processing: Are You Overpaying?

According to Forrester Research, B2B eCommerce sales are on the rise due to the rapid advancement of cloud technology, platforms, API’s and integrated ecosystems. Another major contributor, according to The Economist, is that over 30% of decision makers are millenials, a group that, according to Forbes, requires an omni-channel experience with 87% of them using two to three technical devices daily. These shifts driven by consumer demand and technology are behind Forrester’s forecast that B2B eCommerce transactions will exceed 55% of all B2B transactions by the year 2017.

This shift in how B2B payments are processed will lead to a dramatic increase in B2B payment processing transactions. As this shift happens, it has become critical for CFO’s & Controllers to become educated about what benefits are available to their organization as it relates to B2B payment processing while also steering clear of deceptive billing practices in the credit card processing industry.

THE LANGUAGE OF DECEPTION

B2B companies have consistently been misled to expect credit card fees in the 3-5% range due to the fact that they are accepting credit cards in a “Card Not Present” environment. Payment processors often point the finger at Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express as being the benefactors of these high fees and often use confusing billing statements that hide the true costs that come from these card brands.

Controllers and CFO’s often enter into B2B payment processing relationships through their banks and are told “we do your processing in-house”, under a white-label payment processing relationship that usually leads to more confusion & deception. They read their monthly statements and see terms like Qualified, Mid-Qualified, Non-Qualified, Standard, or Surcharge, etc., and believe that since they accept most or all of their transactions online or by phone, they must also accept the fact that it is more expensive.

The fact is that many of these terms don’t actually exist on the wholesale rate categories created by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. These are deceptive rate categories created by dishonest B2B payment processing companies that allow them to enhance the profitability of each merchant account without having to disclose their profit margin.

VISA B2B, LEVEL II & LEVEL III PROCESSING

What commercial businesses must be knowledgeable about are the benefits that the card brands make available to certain businesses that engage in business-to-business and business-to-government transactions. VISA B2B, Level II and Level III processing are essentially discounts that businesses qualify for depending on the type of business they are, along with additional payment data provided while processing B2B transactions. These programs can improve the cost of accepting commercial credit & debit cards by as much as 1% in many cases. This allows commercial businesses to accept credit and debit cards in a “Card Not Present” environment while avoiding the excessive surcharging and high fees they typically experience.

HOW TO CASH IN 

To ensure your payments are being processed as efficiently as they can be, here are a few actions to take:

  • Ensure you’re set up on Interchange Plus or Pass-Through Pricing (Fully discloses fees from card brands at cost)
  • Review your statement and make sure there are no terms like Qualified, Mid-Qualified, Non-Qualified.
  • Compare your current statement to a previous statement from the same provider to ensure its consistency.
  • Call your payment processor and find out if you qualify for special rates from the card brands.
  • Request documentation from your payment processor that fully discloses costs from Visa, MasterCard, Discover & American Express.

Cashing in on these benefits will be instrumental in helping B2B organizations control their costs so they can reinvest their profits into building quality purchasing experiences for vendors, suppliers, and customers both online and offline.

Contact us to find out if you’re overpaying for your merchant account or if you’re looking for systems that can help you process payments more efficiently.

You can also download “The Truth About Accepting Credit Cards”, a free mini-book that reveals the inside scoop on how B2B payment processing companies get paid, the untruths they use against businesses, and 25 questions you can ask to get the best payment processing relationship.