When it comes to the world of merchant services, it’s important to understand what the right processing relationship can bring to the table. So what should you be looking for? Consider a real estate agent partnering with a broker. In addition to a slick headshot, an agent wants to find the best compensation, flexibility and access to technology. Except for the headshot, the relationship between agent and ISO is no different. So here are the five most important tips to keep in mind when choosing an agent program:
1. Transparency. This goes beyond just getting clear and concise answers about the terms of your contract. You want to see tangible data to both understand and optimize your business. Transparency also means providing an explanation for a sentence full of industry buzzwords. In short, you want the ability to get an in-depth look at the numbers driving your business. Look for ISOs with reporting systems that allow you to see and understand valuable data sets hidden in plain sight.
2. Customer Support. Communication and understanding go hand in hand. In your lifetime, chances are you’ve been put on hold for two hours to get an answer to a question. Total transparency is nothing without a reliable system to provide it to you. It is important to seek dedicated customer support that is specialized to suit your needs. You’ll want access to multiple resources, including experienced staff assigned specifically to you. This can be the difference between getting stuck in neutral and getting ahead of the competition.
3. Training. It’s important to have everyone on the same page. As the industry evolves, having access to both initial and ongoing training services is an extremely valuable resource. Customized training sessions—individual or group—through the web, phone or in person are a must. Adapting is essential, but being the first to understand how to adapt will keep you ahead of the curve.
4. Products. You should look for an ISO with a diverse product line. This includes but is not limited to: POS systems, online ordering services, loyalty and gift programs, merchant funding services, check processing, and much more. As the relationship between buyer and seller continues to change, the need for a diverse service catalogue is imperative. Having access to these services before your competition can make all the difference.
5. Contracts. Whether you are new to the merchant service industry or an experienced agent, the focus always is on the “Schedule A”. However, the devil is in the details. The language of the agreement is just as important as the Schedule A. Understanding the terms of the agreement and potential pitfalls are paramount to your success. Never sign an agreement with an exclusivity clause, your provider should earn your business every day. Residuals should be for the lifetime of the merchant account and there should be no minimum production quotas, after all you are in business for yourself!
Above all, make sure that you are well informed about your agent program. There are a litany of tools, products and resources at your fingertips, so understanding your program is the first step to thriving with it.
Posted by SB – Written by Matt Shepard