By Jerry Cibley
United Bank Card Inc.
As ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs), we are often asked by our merchants how they can become more profitable, or we otherwise find ourselves in a position to teach merchants how to increase their bottom lines. Are we strictly the credit card people, or should we take on a greater role for our customers?
If you work in the restaurant vertical, for example, you needn't become an expert in haute cuisine or server training, but you can use the opportunity to become invaluable as a consultant or mentor to your clients by expanding your horizons. Why not do so?
When I worked in the field, it was not unusual for me to receive phone calls from my customers asking my opinion on various potential marketing concepts or asking basic questions such as where they can buy good, used restaurant equipment.
My personal network always included local vendors that I had met in various restaurants. I always had the business cards of a restaurant broker; heating, ventilation and air conditioning company; used equipment broker; web designer; electrician; and refrigeration company. Sometimes I would feel like a human Yellow Pages, but it cemented my relationship with my end users.
Having been in the POS business for more than 25 years, I am still shocked when I walk into a restaurant and see an antiquated cash register. When operators choose not to have a POS system, two possible reasons go through my mind:
Either of these reasons can easily be overcome. To counter the cost argument, you can offer one of the free or very affordable POS systems now on the market. Merchants no longer have to spend the enormous upfront costs once required for a POS system.
The second argument takes a little more explaining, but is just as easily overcome once the business owner has the facts. POS systems offer many crucial benefits to the restaurant's bottom line:
Add up all the savings, and the general rule of thumb is as follows: a POS integration can bring as much as 12 percent of the yearly sales back to the owner. In a restaurant averaging $1 million per year, it is not uncommon to see an increase in profits of $80,000 to $120,000 after the installation of a POS system.
Unlike the disclaimers we often see at the end of weight loss television commercials, these figures are typical and should be achieved by the majority of merchants who install POS systems.
In addition to these cost savings, many programs can easily be administrated through the POS system to generate additional return for your merchants. Imagine increasing the daily revenue for one of your clients by as much as 85 percent. Here are three ways to do it:
Professional quality email blasts targeted to the restaurant's slowest days will have immediate return and can be executed in a matter of minutes if you plan ahead and have predesigned emails in the queue.
The bottom line: become invaluable to your clients, and they will not leave you. Provide this kind of business consultation, and they will begin to see you as a trusted advisor.
Cement relationships on a personal level as well. Start by becoming a customer of your merchants' businesses. Then go even further. For example, my wife, who is an excellent cook, often shares recipes with some of my clients.
One of my clients who owns a restaurant called a few years back and asked to speak to my wife (she is a college professor but loves to cook). A chef needed to ask her where to buy a specific dried cranberry and nut assortment that she had suggested for his salad.
I chuckled to myself and happily handed the phone to my wife. On the next visit to the restaurant, we were not charged for our meal. I thanked the owner. He told me to thank my wife and said he would buy his next POS system from her.
This kind of relationship greatly enhances merchant retention. To increase your overall portfolio as an ISO or MLS, step outside the box and find new ways to solidify your residual stream. Consultative POS sales may just be the way to do that.
Jerry Cibley is a 25-year veteran of the POS industry. He has been the founder of three POS dealerships servicing New England during his career. Today, Jerry is the National Sales Trainer for United Bank Card's Harbortouch POS division. As National Sales Trainer, his role with UBC is to train the company's sales partners on the intricacies of the POS business so that they can become POS experts themselves, ensuring their success with the free Harbortouch POS program. Jerry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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