From GS Online's MLS Forum
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How to start over in the payments business?
Recently, GS Online MLS Forum member JDECKARD asked forum members what they would do differently and what they would do the same if they had to start from scratch in payments, knowing what they know today. Following are excerpts from the responses he received. To read all the replies, see the "Starting over ..." thread on the forum.
"You want to be the chicken, not the egg: hire, train, motivate, lead."
"Move to a new area (think out of box). Go work for a company that pays upfront (less residuals). Try to save as much as you can. Get to a point that you can live for six months on savings. Renegotiate, residual only, and knock the freaking ball out of the park. Or, get a loan and start an ISO."
"I'd move to a resort town (or any relatively small town if that doesn't strike you as entertaining) and become the go-to guy for processing in that area. I'd find a good ISO that would give me a fair deal (no upfront moneys as it's a ripoff long-term, period) and had good support. I would focus on select clients and absolutely make it to where they couldn't possibly live without me from a service/product standpoint.
"Chasing $20 a month accounts and losing them as fast as you sign them is for the birds. Focus on clients who are successful and don't begrudge paying you a fair wage to handle all of their payment needs. Work on finding additional products that add value to the merchant's business.
"I love running an ISO, but if I had it to do over, I'm telling you, one man/woman shop with a fair ISO is the way to go. I see the checks I cut and I know how much some of those guys don't work, lol. Dominate your area and don't be obsessed with putting 15 deals on the board, put up a smaller number with quality deals up and keep stacking it.
"I still would probably do most of my sales over the phone. Driving all over the town/city/state/county is not my style - too expensive and a lot of wasted time. Phone sales may produce more noes - but you can contact so many more merchants, be available for support related issues, monitor boards (like GS) and much more.
"Additionally, after I was able to stand on my own fiscally, I'd focus on partnerships rather than individual sales. I started doing this about a year ago and built up a good number of POS and association partnerships since then. These relationships usually mean a few good accounts a month without any real 'work' (just follow ups, proposals and applications usually). Add in a little real work, it gets really easy to start boarding a lot of good accounts and push your numbers up."
"There are several considerations in starting in this business: 1) how much you have and 2) how much you need. Both will change your approach to how you rebuild. If you have six months of savings, you can pound the streets for sales and build a residual on a program with the highest split possible. If not, you will likely need some upfront 'boost' to fuel you each month and for that, you will likely give up some percent split or have to sell a value-add that has some upfront component to it.
"I would never underestimate the value of revisiting old accounts and asking for new leads - not to flip the old accounts - but to say, 'Hey, do you know five other owners I can talk to?'
"Also, see if your ISO has a national association in their bag and ask for the leads in your area. I know in the past we've given out leads that were local to the ISO/agent for an association and also accounts that were direct buyout merchants but had since closed, so an ISO could get back on their feet quicker by revisiting those accounts.
"Definitely team up with your partners and the value-add companies to see what they can recommend."