The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 27, 2020 • Issue 20:04:02
Business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic - Part 2
While the ultimate toll of the novel coronavirus pandemic is unknown, some sectors of the worldwide economy, such as the travel- and hospitality-related industries, have already taken a big hit. Amid volatile stock markets worldwide, school shutdowns, shuttered businesses, cancelled events, social distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions – individuals and businesses are taking steps to keep themselves and their communities safe while finding ways to compensate for projected losses and find new opportunities.
Given this unprecedented situation, we asked members of our Advisory Board the following:
- How has fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business, and what are you doing to mitigate current and potential effects?
- How have the coronavirus and efforts to limit its spread affected your merchant customers? Are you focused on any sector that is particularly hard hit? If so, what is your view of the situation on the ground?
- What are you doing to be of help to your merchant customers, as well as your sales agents at this time?
- Are you pursuing areas of opportunity such as alternative funding, contactless payment acceptance or ecommerce?
- What do you anticipate the long-term impact of this major disruption will be?
Following is the second portion of their responses. The first installment was published April 13, 2020 in issue 20:04:01. Heartfelt thanks all Advisory Board members who participated.
Justin Milmeister, CPP, Elite Merchant Solutions
- I don't think there is a business out there that hasn't been impacted by COVID-19. Outside of a few industries, the majority of businesses are facing extreme conditions nobody could have foreseen. We expect and are prepared to endure a big drop in revenue for at least the next few months, given large drops in processing volume. Due to the current environment, we made efforts to set up all our inside sales reps to work out of their homes along with most of our admin.
Additionally, upper management has looked at various non-essential expenses and has significantly reduced these expenses to help offset the reduction in revenue. We are hopeful things will go back to normal expeditiously but are prepared should it drag out longer than expected.
- Many of our customers are suffering tremendously, and of course some industries are feeling it much harder than others. Fortunately, as a company, we are very spread out with respect to sectors we service; however, we do have a handful of partners that have built substantial restaurant and hospitality portfolios over the years. These partners are reaching out to their respective portfolios and offering various reductions/elimination of payment processing mark ups in the interim to help weather the storm. It is a great thing to see people helping for the greater good rather than thinking only of themselves.
- We have taken the initiative to remove any mark-ups with respect to interchange and monthly fees for those merchants hardest hit. The majority of our sales partners are W2 employees, and we have committed to not laying anyone off during this difficult time. This gives our partners peace of mind, and I am proud our company is in a position to make this happen.
- Yes, we have shifted our sales focus to industries that are not experiencing the same challenges as retail, restaurant and hospitality merchants, to name a few.
- It is hard to say at this point; however, the obvious long-term impact is going to be dealing with the major stimulus package of $2 trillion, which was signed into law on March 27th. I am certainly not an economist, but I know there will be a long-term impact created by this large stimulus package. However, I think it is necessary and the right move from both an economic and humane viewpoint.
Steve Sotis, eProcessing Network
- As a company based in Houston, dealing with natural disasters has made creating a business continuity plan a necessity. Part of that plan is to ensure that ePN employees can work from home in a thoughtful, choreographed manner, and have the equipment and supplies on-hand to allow them to continue to provide excellent stability and support to our resellers and merchants.
- As a company proudly serving the small business community, ePN understands that providing merchants with online tools is vital to those who need to maintain their business during these difficult and complex times.
- Partnering with our resellers and ISOs to help them create quick and affordable online payment solutions for their merchants will be key to helping the merchant keep their business "open" online, even in times when they may not be able to accept foot traffic at their physical locations.
- As a gateway provider, eProcessing Network already provides solutions to help the reseller and their merchant operate both the front- and back-office of their business. Whether they operate in a B&M, ecommerce or mobile environment, ePN offers the payment solutions that allow merchants to accept all forms of payments to brick, click or go. ePN also provides solutions like BillPay, Recurring Payment and Card Updater services to help merchants manage billing and invoicing to ensure that monthly payments/subscriptions are current and paid on time.
- The long-term impact of merchants having to face the possibility of closing their physical doors will lead to utilizing online alternatives to keep their businesses open and provide the same level of customer service to their clients. ePN can work with resellers to re-educate them on ways to successfully transition their merchants through any major business disruption that may happen in the future.
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