The Green Sheet is located in arguably the weather capital of the world. Sonoma County, California, is world famous for its wines and coastline, and it's all around beautiful scenery. The weather is usually mild. It never snows. And it only rains at night.
Well, that last bit is not actually true. But, for decades, the county could rely on a torrent of winter storms to replenish lakes, streams and aquifers. Like clockwork, January would come rolling around and rivers would swell and roads would flood. But California has been in a drought the last few years and the winter storms have been more sporadic and less sustained.
The result has been water use restrictions and cattle ranchers who have had to supplement the feed for their herds because the ground is too dry to provide cattle with enough nutrient-rich grazing land. Many lakes are not at full capacity, which retards the biosystem for fish and migrating birds. And the dry hills are not quite as beautiful without the rich green grass covering them.
It is unfortunate that we take water for granted and only start to worry about it when we see what happens to the landscape when it is lacking. The same goes for merchant services; when times are good who gives a thought to when resources run dry?
The payments industry is in the midst of profound changes. The traditional business model is being turned on its head. Suddenly if you don't offer mobile solutions, pundits claim, you're dead in the water. And if you're an ISO or merchant level salesperson, where is your role in a world of Apple Pay and payments that effectively cut out the need for middlemen altogether.
Like in Sonoma County, this is a time for payment professionals to take stock of their resources and use them to greater efficiency. It is a time when businesses must do all they can to retain their most talented salespeople (the rainmakers!) and top support staff as well. It is also incumbent on processors to reinforce their relationships with merchants to ensure that loyalty and deep relationships will last once the dust settles and the industry attains equilibrium – at least for a while.
And what about your vendor partnerships? Are the lines of communication open? Are the contracts clear and precise and free of perilous loopholes? And while you're at it, you might as well take inventory on personal issues.
Do you have people in your lives you can count on, no matter what? How is the communication with your significant other? Are you spending enough time with your kids?
Change is inevitable. If you're in the middle of a drought, or one looms on the horizon, you will need to dip into your professional and personal well of resources to get through it. The rains will return eventually, and the rivers will once again overflow. Then we can get back to complaining about why the winter storms don't let up every once in a while. But maybe in the future we'll temper our complaints a bit and give thanks that the waters do run deep.
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