By Jeff Fortney
Many employees dread this time of year because it's when numerous employers conduct annual performance reviews. Such reviews have been part of corporate culture for many years. Their purpose is to highlight employees' accomplishments, discuss where they need to improve, and create specific goals for the coming year. It's also when raises are typically discussed.
Contrary to popular belief, the ideal person to perform this review isn't your supervisor – it's you. After all, who knows more about your successes – and failures – than you? So let's give it a try.
It's better to consider this exercise a personal audit instead of a review and rating. The goal is to identify what you did well, where you can improve and what roadblocks stand in the way of your success. You can then use this information to set clear, specific goals for the coming year.
To derive maximum benefit from this process, embark on a fact-finding mission that examines internal and external factors. Internal factors are actions you take. External factors are things outside of your control that affect your success nonetheless.
Start by taking a long, hard look at your sales process. Be specific and outline each step. Make sure you address your:
Were the variations the reason behind your increased production? That question might be difficult to answer, but it is important because it will help you identify the factors that increased your success. Your answer might involve a market approach that had a fixed time period, or you could be targeting a different audience today. Remember, you are fact finding at this time, not planning for the future yet.
Three external factors can significantly affect your success: your marketplace, your product offering and your ISO partner.
The seasonality of your market has to be considered, but it is most important when planning for the future. Your product offering shouldn't have a significant impact on your success unless it's counter to your market's expectations, meaning you are missing key products highly sought after by your customers.
This leaves us with what can be the most revealing part of this audit, which is taking a close look at your processing provider. First, ask if your processor functions as a true partner or just a vendor.
Partners help you build your business by serving as mentors and sharing valuable information. They also recognize the value you bring to the equation, which is why they often provide a higher revenue share. Vendors, on the other hand, provide you with products to sell and may or may not offer incentives for increased performance. They may even have productivity minimums and contractual provisions that primarily protect them – not you. The difference between the two is vast, which is why you may want to reexamine your ISO partnership, especially if it's one sided.
If you have a good working partnership, it doesn't mean there won't be bumps in the road. It just means the bumps shouldn't interfere with your ability to grow your business.
Now take a look at your Schedule A. And look at the complete picture, not just a line here and there. Do you fully understand the total schedule and its ramifications? It's also important to understand what is and isn't included in revenue share calculation.
Also determine if you have the products and support you need. This will help ensure you have the right offering to present to merchants and give you the confidence that both you and your merchants will have your questions answered in a timely manner.
Finally, look at the reporting through the eyes of your merchants. Is it clear? Can they understand what they are being charged? Also, take a hard look at your residual reporting. Do you fully understand it, and are you being paid in a timely fashion?
If concerns arise, address them immediately with your processing provider. It may also be prudent to re-evaluate that relationship.
Once you complete the two sides of the audit, examine your results and make necessary changes to your sales process right away. The same is true for having an open, honest conversation with your provider. Conducting a personal audit and reviewing internal and external factors affecting your success will enable you to address factors that are limiting your growth and profitability, set a plan for the coming year, and make sure you have the tools you require to prosper and get a jump start on your competition.
Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.
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