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The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 12, 2020 • Issue 20:10:01

Do's and don'ts for MLSs during COVID-19

By Jeff Fortney
Signature Payments

When I was in elementary school we had "bomb" drills. These, along with fire drills, happened regularly. During fire drills we would exit the room single file and march to the playground, where we would stand until the all-clear bell rang.

When the bomb-drill siren blared, we would "duck and cover" by climbing under our assigned desks and covering our heads. We would remain, in fetal position with hands over our heads, until the all clear. We'd seen movies explaining the purpose of these drills, but that didn't stop them from frightening us.

Memories of these drills surfaced this spring when we were advised to shelter in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis is tragic and can be overwhelming. I know many folks who sometimes feel like curling up in fetal position. But just like students during a bomb drill, we can only hide briefly before we must come out from under the desk.

In payments, what we do today directly impacts our future success. Although we may be limiting contacts with people outside of our households, we can grow our businesses in ways that don't involve knocking on doors.

Forging ahead during the pandemic

Indeed, you can structure a sales plan that, once this pandemic passes, will differentiate you from competing merchant level salespeople; offer services to merchants—without offending them with a heavy sales pitch—that can benefit them today and likely help them survive longer term; and protect your income from residuals. Do this by adhering to the do's and don'ts that follow.

Don't sell your portfolio/residuals. Even if you need the money, this is not the time to sell. Any company buying residuals is not going to buy purely based on your past six months residual payments; it will have additional provisions based on the projected residuals over the next few months. The value now is at a low point, and holdbacks will be significant.

If you are concerned or need money immediately, do consider borrowing using your residuals as security. In borrowing, you retain the ownership of your residuals and pay back the loan over time from those residuals. After the loan is paid off, you retain ownership of your residuals. Several companies in our sphere can accommodate a loan.

Don't misconstrue social distancing measures as instructions not to work. We are in this business to build revenue. Under social distancing restrictions, many people are working successfully from home. Do schedule time every day to do something work-related.

Do schedule specific blocks of time to concentrate on the basics of your business. You can't succeed if you don't book the time—and stay committed to it.

Don't think you can work anywhere in the house. Do set aside a specific place as your workspace. And everyone in your home needs to know it is your workspace, and understand that when you are there, you are at work. Do keep the area you set aside as purely workspace if possible. When done working, leave your workspace, and don't return until it's time to work again.)

Don't think you have to go into the field and make calls. Do respect the social distancing rules set forth in your jurisdiction.

Don't scattershoot your efforts. Do plan what you do every day before you start. Know what your goal is every day, and reach it.

Don't work 24/7. Do set aside time for yourself and your family. Committing to work benefits you and your family, but remember to balance work and personal time.

Don't become discouraged. Do remember that ours is an investment business. We invest time into our current and prospective merchant customers. Our returns aren't immediate, but if you don't invest now, you'll have zero results. Some days will be better than others, but all time committed and actions taken have value.

Our business has no guarantees, but I believe your solid commitment as the pandemic wears on will pay large dividends later. You are not in this alone. Call me with any questions—or just to talk. end of article

Jeff Fortney is vice president ISO relations for Signature Payments. A long-time payments industry executive and mentor, Jeff is focused on strengthening and developing partnerships and evaluating new business opportunities. He can be reached at 214-458-1379.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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