According to Nationwide Payments LLC co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Nonni, Nationwide's history of steady portfolio and revenue growth owes itself to knowledgeable salespeople, excellent customer service and an expanding, specialized platform of high-end, proprietary technology.
Founded in 2002, Nationwide has made it four times to the Inc. 5000 ranking of fastest growing companies in the United States. "It's very rare [being ranked four times in the Inc. 5000]; I think very few companies have that track record," Nonni said. "The key is that our growth has been slow but consistent, with no big jumps. I've seen many companies grow too big too suddenly, which find themselves lacking the framework to deal with the challenges of big business. But we've kept it controlled."
The company of 65 in-house employees and over 120 sales agents began with 13 in-house employees and a simple goal: to provide superior customer service in an industry where "merchant support was often sub-par," Nonni said. "Customer service has been making a comeback in our industry, but we've felt from day-one that this is not an area you want to try to save money on."
Nationwide focuses on cultivating long-term relationships with sales agents; 80 percent have stayed with the company five years or more, and many have been with the company since it was formed, Nonni reported. He added that Nationwide aims to align its long-term goals with those of its agents, so that the two are working in harmony; the company regularly solicits agents' feedback and incorporates their input into its sales policies.
Also, the company trains agents to sell to alternative industries where the competition is less intense, agent knowledge and solid relationships are valued over discounts and gimmicky pricing schemes, and long-term partnerships with sustained or growing revenues are more attainable. The upshot is agents who are less preoccupied with hitting quick sales targets and more oriented toward long-term growth, Nonni pointed out.
According to Nonni, over 50 percent of Nationwide's merchants are from nontraditional market sectors, including business-to-business, health care, automotive, parking, government and education. He reported that the company's merchants average $250,000 in annual processing, largely stemming from accounts in the alternative merchant space. "We train our salespeople how to write deals with less competition, and with better retention and margins," he said.
Nonni has watched Nationwide transition from a "merchant services company that sells technology, to a technology company that sells merchant services." Nationwide has its own gateway product, for example, and integrates its payment technology with third-party software.
Much of Nationwide's proprietary technology is aimed at merchants in need of specialized services, Nonni said. One example is the technology to support automated parking modules at parking garages; another is email invoices with "click buttons" that route customers to a payment page online, intended for utility companies and other firms that have traditionally relied on paper billing.
Nationwide also uses its billing system to bill merchants, which gives agents multiple options in how they negotiate pricing arrangements, Nonni said. He added that the company recently implemented an interchange cost-plus billing model, but agents have significant flexibility to determine and apply different levels and rates within that scheme.
At its 12-year anniversary sales conference near the end of 2014, Nationwide Payments is changing its corporate logo and officially changing its name from Nationwide Payment Solutions to Nationwide Payments (although Nonni said company officials are already using the name Nationwide Payments).
"The fresh logo and name change represent this transition of dynamic growth driven by new technology," Nonni said. "It's an indication of the direction we're looking to continue to take, which is further developing a rich pipeline of products and services that, assisted by a strong and dedicated field of sales agents, can continue to feed our steady climb."
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