For 10 years George Massey, merchant level salesperson (MLS) and Regional Director for ISO Group Concepts LLC, performed as a baritone throughout the United States in some of the most famous operas ever written. Among the more than 55 roles he performed were Figaro in "The Barber of Seville," Marcelo in "La Boheme" and Sharpless in "Madame Butterfly."
Massey retired from singing to raise a family and work as a realtor. Though most of his focus and energy is devoted to selling for Group Concepts, Massey still works for RE/MAX First in Oklahoma City and has been investing in real estate for over 35 years.
An MLS for just a little over a year, Massey believes his background in real estate has made the transition to merchant acquiring much smoother. And his enthusiasm for the industry is infectious.
Massey had been an MLS for about six months when Group Concept's President Dan Breshears invited him to step in as the company's Regional Director in July 2007. Massey continues to operate in both capacities.
The Green Sheet: Why did you stop singing?
George Massey: Well, the traveling was difficult. My wife [also an opera singer] and I had different managers and were signed to different bookings, so our 10 years together in music was not really spent together. We wanted to have a child, so my wife got into teaching and I got into real estate full-time after dabbling with it on a part-time basis since college.
GS: What industries does Group Concepts work with?
GM: Anybody that can take a credit card is a potential customer. For example, we are the provider in Oklahoma City for a huge tradeshow called Affair of the Heart, which targets smaller merchants whose volumes may only be $5,000 to $20,000 a month.
GS: How do you generate leads and what methods have you found to be most effective?
GM: Well, I meet many people in the Methodist and Baptist conference circles through my work as a part-time musical director. I go to Tips Club meetings twice a month. I think it is important to get into things like the Tips Club or networking groups as soon as possible to let everyone know that you're out there.
You want to develop a circle of influence because the people you know are the ones who are more than likely going to do business with you. We keep up a database, we send out monthly newsletters to 200 people and to 600 others via e-mail alerts. We try to keep people updated and informed on new things out there, and keep merchants abreast of unknowns in the industry that appear intimidating.
GS: Your involvement with the music ministry through your church has tangentially enriched your business association with other area churches and ecumenical colleges and universities. Has this created any new sales opportunities?
GM: Yes, it has. Group Concepts is the preferred provider for the American Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities. We have enrolled them with Kingdom Processing, a solution that accepts credit card payments and donations via secure electronic fund transfers. Naturally, this solution adheres to best practice standards and uses the same secure sockets layer protocol as banks for Internet transmission.
GS: In what capacity as an MLS do you feel more like a consultant?
GM: Well, the consultant part, I would say, is in the initial stage when I go in and show potential clients that Group Concepts can be an integral part of their growth. I talk about the cash advance programs or the free automated teller machines and terminal incentive programs to enhance their business, and then I show them how they can make more money using Group Concepts as their processor.
GS: What are your personal business goals?
GM: Personally, I'd like to get 400 small accounts within the next two or three years. I have about 80 right now, so I'm just trying to work up to where they create a nice monthly residual income and leave me time to go after the big ones. Customer service is paramount for me. So, I'm always upfront with people about putting them in touch with the right people to answer questions I can't.
GS: Group Concepts has been working with myARCworld Inc. to design and market some unique business packages. Can you explain the genesis of that relationship?
GM: I believe Dan Breshears had known Zach Godfrey, myARCworld's President, from other tradeshows and conferences. Breshears kept seeing so many great things happening with them.
At about the same the time - by chance from a cold call - I established a rapport with Ty Kalklosch, one of the founders of PayLease Inc., to do Group Concept's online processing of checks and credit cards for renters or home-owners associations.
About two or three months ago, the three of us had a meeting. We had a great time together and decided it was a good time to join forces.
Subsequently, Group Concepts negotiated with myARC-world to private-label PayLease's software, and this allows any agents with our company or myARCworld to sell the PayLease product.
After four or five months, we got to know each other more and the three companies formed an alliance. Now, Group Concepts is the processor for PayLease's checks and credit cards. We provide split funding for checks.
GS: Can you explain split funding?
GM: Absolutely. For check processing, tenants pay rent and an additional fee for using PayLease's service. In the past, PayLease had to separate the fee from the rent and then forward the rent to the property manager.
Now, it's split. PayLease receives its fee and property managers receive their rent. An overwhelming majority of PayLease's business is check driven because it's cheaper for the consumer. The split funding simply makes accounting for PayLease easier, as about 85 to 90 percent of its collections are by check.
GS: Group Concepts has recently become a sponsor for the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center. How has this helped your networking capabilities?
GM: I had no idea the OSBDC even existed. They assist new businesses by providing one-to-one business counseling, economic development assistance and training to prospective small businesses. The OSBDC is a turnkey operation for new business start ups. I boarded the OSBDC for Group Concepts, and the reason I got the account was due to Zach Godfrey's wonderful business packages - you get all the credit card equipment you need, along with a Web site, a logo design, business cards, stationary and promotional items.
Another amenity is that Group Concepts and myARCworld will register any merchant's domain and host it for a year. In this respect, we alleviate a lot of stresses and growing pains new businesses usually endure. Businesses don't need to enlist a plethora of vendors. We can do it all for them.
GS: You are also still working as a realtor for RE/MAX. Have you ever been able to meld both careers when boarding a merchant?
GM: Actually, I just leased a property here to a lady who is going to have the first-of-its-kind cat boarding facility. She leased the property rather than buy because, as a new business owner, she was apprehensive about how her business would go.
This led me right into asking, "So, what do you do for credit card processing?" I also introduced myARCworld's business package. I told her we could get her processing application in right away and have the business processing credit cards by the weekend.
It's kind of fun networking by myself because of the interconnectivity of my jobs. I'll see people in credit card processing and they come up to me and say, "Oh, by the way, I need to sell my house or my business." In this respect, there is a great amount of synergy.
GS: With your real estate background, it seems like a natural transition to sell for Group Concepts. And you've got an entire untapped market at your fingertips.
GM: I think so, too. It's not only the real estate industry that we can work with - it's also the housing assessment inspectors, the termite inspectors, general contractors, subcontractors, and engineers.
GS: Oh, you mean all of the cottage industries that piggyback on the real estate industry?
GM: Correct. When you buy a house, you're going to have an inspector come out and do a report, then the termite guy is going to show up, and so on. They might all need new laptops with credit card swipes or a state-of-the-art wireless credit card machine. We can set them up for all that.
GS: Have you had any problems with security breaches?
GM: Not when you are using the right companies and the right processing. Our Kingdom Processing solution has all the same security certificates and codes as Chase Bank, so we're pretty tight on all of that.
GS: Are there any new technologies out there you are excited about?
GM: Yes, there's a new POS machine coming out with United Bank Card that we thought would be available two or three months ago. Hopefully, it will come out very soon and it will have a lease rate that no one can touch.
GS: What advice do you have for newcomers to this industry?
GM: I tell them to be wary of getting caught up in the excitement of the potential business that's out there and not bite off initially more than they can chew.
They may try right away to go to somebody that has 25 restaurants, but those types of leads are very time consuming and are not easy to get. The PayLease account, which is a very nice account, took us about six months to acquire.
I tell them to spend 25 percent of their time on the big accounts and the rest of their time on the day-to-day accounts (the mom-and-pop businesses that need credit card equipment) check scanners, PIN pads and so forth.
GS: You mentioned being out there with people, interacting and making yourself known. Because of your networking style, you mingle with potential clients more often than not. Do you think there will always be street sales?
GM: Street sales will always work for me because, according to my wife, I'll talk to a post. Personal attention is so important because it makes for happy clients. And happy clients not only stay with you, but also refer others to you.
GS: Do you have a surefire way to resolve conflict?
GM: Just make sure I have all the facts first.
GS: What is one thing an MLS should never do?
GM: Be dishonest. Don't do it. Be upfront, be honest, and act with total integrity at all times. If I can't assist somebody, I don't try to get his or her business. The only way to operate is to keep everything above board.
Keep your integrity, even if you don't gain an account. Sometimes I don't get an account because merchants think our rates are too good to be true, but I get referrals because of the way I do business.
GS: Do you have a philosophy on life or a motto that you live by?
GM: Pretty simple: Just live each day as though it were your last.
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