The Green Sheet Online Edition
December 12, 2011 • Issue 11:12:01
A company built for its agents
Like some others who have founded ISOs, Chosen Payments President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Brodsly was a merchant level salesperson (MLS) who, after years of feet-on-the-street work selling merchant accounts, deemed himself successful enough to enter the ISO game.
"I was an MLS for several years, partnered with an ISO for a few years and from there wanted to create a different vision, so I started Chosen Payments in August," Brodsly said. This vision involves drawing from personal experience to create the most comfortable, prosperous environment possible for MLSs, Brodsly said.
"Oftentimes, huge gaps exist between ISO and agent, and we bridge those gaps," he said. "We keep the agent informed about the entire merchant boarding process, and we promote long-term growth. I want the agent to be the master of his own destiny."
Brodsly said his company's MLSs are kept informed about everything related to their portfolios. When a merchant account is accepted or rejected, agents are told why it happened. MLSs also get the complete financial picture of their merchant accounts.
"Some ISOs will say to their agents, 'I'll give you a 90 percent residual,' but 90 percent of what?" Brodsly said. "We are going to pass on the true cost, the true information. ... You'll get the same raw data report that I get from the processor."
According to Brodsly, CP's approach fosters a sense of honesty and fairness in its MLSs, who are encouraged to take the same approach with their merchants - for example, by selling accounts without hiding fees.
MLSs also have full control over their residuals, Brodsly said. If an MLS quits or gets fired, the individual retains ownership of his or her residuals. When working with CP, agents are free to sell their portfolios to other ISOs, he added.
Brodsly noted that CP typically doesn't offer upfront bonuses to MLSs who make sales, but agents nonetheless have ample revenue opportunities and are encouraged to focus on building long-lasting, growing relationships with merchants. He said giving MLSs ownership of their portfolios encourages them to seek such long-term growth. "This is not about, 'Here's $300 for this sale and you're done,'" he added.
Brodsly pointed out that one way to foster growth is to provide innovative up-sell opportunities. For example, CP offers a short message service- and email-based marketing program, a referral program with businesses that serve merchants but don't sell credit card processing, a merchant cash advance and loan program, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance services, and tax assistance with the new IRS 1099-K reporting requirements for electronic payments.
The company's marketing program provides merchants a "marketing coach" who helps develop new marketing tools and compile lists of target recipients. Merchants can send texts and email blasts with promotions or coupons, as well as use lower-tech approaches such as offering free prizes based on a drawing of business cards customers place in a jar. Those cards can then be used to obtain marketing information, Brodsly said.
With most email campaigns, only about 10 percent of consumers even open the advertisement; with CP's targeted, opt-in campaigns, that number is between 45 and 50 percent, Brodsly said. And those numbers are significantly higher when merchants use text-messaging to advertise, he added.
The company's referral program allows MLSs to sell processing to merchant providers - such as small insurance firms or community banks - that contract with businesses but don't offer card processing.
It gives the client "a level playing field with, say, some of the bigger banks out there," Brodsly said. "It's all about providing new revenue opportunities that build our company and build the agent's residuals and portfolio."
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