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The Green Sheet Online Edition

February 27, 2023 • Issue 23:02:02

Street SmartsSM

Sometimes the best solution is to say goodbye

By Natasa Cvijanovic
Tesla Payments

The famous phrase "You're fired!" is a from the boardroom of the television show The Apprentice. It is not original, but it gets the point across. You may not have been in a boardroom, and you may not have conveyed the news with the same words, but you've likely been in a situation where you've had to fire someone. What if that person isn't an apprentice or employee but one of your merchants?

Even the most successful merchant level salespeople (MLSs) occasionally experience the disappointment of signing a merchant only to find that your working relationship with them could be better. And at some point, maybe you realize that the merchant's unreasonable demands and requests make it not worth your time or effort to keep working with them.

In cases like this, having an open and professional discussion about the need to part ways is in everyone's best interest. If you notice an issue, your merchant most likely does, too. However, it is important to communicate your decision respectfully but firmly. Explain why the termination of their merchant agreement and your relationship is necessary.

One advantage of being an independent contractor, or MLS, is the ability to write merchants of your choosing. No boss decides which merchants you go after, and if you're lucky, you don't have to take every merchant.

Heed the warning signs

How do you determine when it's time to fire a merchant, and how do you do so without damaging your reputation?

In this article, I'll discuss warning signs indicating when it's time to say goodbye to a merchant, as well as offer some advice and ways to end the relationship gracefully. Some of these signs are more obvious than others. Regardless of the situation, it is crucial to recognize the warning signs early and act quickly.

  • The client continually attempts to get a better deal: When a merchant relationship begins, it is natural for merchants to want to negotiate rates, and there is nothing wrong with negotiation. However, if an existing merchant repeatedly attempts to renegotiate for lower rates, this should raise red flags.

    Don't waste your time with clients who don't see the value you provide. As long as your pricing is reasonable and you provide a high-quality service, you should not worry about losing a few clients who find your services too expensive. Your merchants will only value you as much as you value yourself.

  • The merchant disrespects your staff:Occasionally, you will encounter a client who treats you well but disrespects your team. When it comes to the long-term success of your business, your team is more valuable than any client you could have, so you must stop this bad behavior. That is not to say that you have to fire the merchant immediately. You should speak to them about your concerns and how you'd like them to treat your employees differently. Do not delegate this responsibility to anyone on your team; handle it personally. If these attempts don't help, let the merchant go, politely.
  • The merchant wants you to compromise your ethical standards: The client is asking you to do something that violates your ethical standards as well as the rules and regulations of the card brands. This requires no additional explanation.
  • You dislike working with them: Ultimately, you're in charge of your own business. You may decide to fire a customer because you dislike working with them. Perhaps their personality simply irritates you, and you try to avoid meetings with them whenever possible. Trust your instincts if you or your employees are uncomfortable just thinking about meeting with them.
  • The merchant takes too much of your time: Even if you're a newer MLS looking for any opportunity to grow your portfolio, you're bound to come across a merchant who is a nuisance at some point. They take up too much of your time, taking away your energy or motivation.

    Parting ways is the best course of action if this happens, even if it means taking a financial loss. Even if a merchant makes you good money in the long run, partnering with a merchant who causes havoc is rarely worthwhile.

Exit with grace

It's easy to picture situations where you finally tell off a customer. However, it's important not to let your emotions get in the way. Always maintain a professional attitude, even if your client does not. You might be determined to fire a client, but there's no need to burn the bridge.

People talk, no matter how big or small your community is, so be respectful in all situations.

Also, consider suggesting a company with whom your now soon to be ex-merchant can work. It is a professional courtesy that not only makes you look good, but may also benefit a competitor who may be a better fit. So let go of merchants that are a burden to you or your staff. You will deliver more to those who matter most if you protect the value of your business or service. end of article

Natasa Cvijanovic, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Payments and member of the SEAA advisory committee, has a proven track record within the payment industry of cultivating successful relationships with ISOs, MLSs and strategic partners. In developing national sales channels, she provides training and coaching to sales partners to enable them to become better business partners and advocates for their merchants, and to assist them in building portfolios producing steady residual streams. She is also dedicated to consistently delivering high levels of professionalism, integrity, dependability and trustworthiness. Contact her at natasa@teslapayments.com..

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Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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