At this time of year, many of us look back to assess the victories and setbacks of the year coming to a close, take stock of lessons learned, and make plans for the year to come. While embarking upon this process, some embrace the old slogan "out with the old, in with the new" and set forth to leave old things or ideas behind and start fresh with new things or ideas.
But what's coming to mind right now is the old Girl Scout campfire song, "Make New Friends." The opening lines, "Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold" succinctly conveys the song's message. And it's a message good lifelong, not just for childhood. It's also good for business relationships, not just personal friendships.
New merchant clients are comparable to new friends, the silver friends in the old song; current customers are as good as gold. And given the relative costs of new customer acquisition, we know how important retaining those gold customers is.
New technologies also can be likened to silver friends, which are essential to serving today's increasingly savvy merchants. Innovative products and services are needed to keep up with their demands for ever more efficient, cost-effective and powerful services. However, old friends still have their place, for example, for merchants who are satisfied with the status quo and resist or can't afford upgrades, as well as for unforeseen circumstances such as power outages. When the network goes down, a stack of old-fashioned credit card receipts with carbon copies and imprinter (for cards that are still embossed) can be invaluable. A full complement of products and services that can be applied flexibly to serve each merchant's unique needs, a combination of silver and gold, is what's called for today.
Other silver friends are new partners that make it possible to provide solutions based on the new technologies mentioned above. These can help propel a business in new directions and to new heights. But the partners that have helped us build our companies still have a central place in our businesses, as the base upon which new business can grow. In addition, longtime payment companies that have partnered with ISOs and MLSs have survived because they have adapted and grown over the years, so it's possible to move in new directions with old parters. One advantage to this is that an established partner already knows your business and would not have as steep a learning curve as a new partner likely would.
And the new/old, silver/gold comparison can also apply to in-house staff. It's important to bring in new people with new ideas and perspectives. This is especially true when moving into new markets and demographics. It's also critical that they join experienced staff who can serve as mentors to their new colleagues ‒ and once integrated, silver and gold can move forward and learn from one another, creating a strong team that can meet the needs of a diverse customer base.
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