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A Thing More Changes at Heartland

More Changes at Heartland

     I continue to be fascinated by Bob Carr and the Heartland Payment Services (HPS) team. HPS continues to surprise me and, I think, the industry. Most recently HPS announced that they had negotiated the purchase of Heartland Bank’s interest in Heartland Payment Services, making Heartland Payment Services a management-owned business.

     The next big surprise took the shape of a press release and letters from Bob Carr to major players in the industry, about the exceptional health of the HPS organization, general elements of the purchase, and a lot about upcoming announcements, some of which will be mentioned in this article. Given the sometimes “mean spirited” comments and rumors about why some businesses make some changes, it occurred to me that by sending out the exact details of the deal to the competition, should some organizations later suggest other causes, ill health, or any number of negative spins about this thriving business, Heartland can call them on the misinformation, since the truth was sent to them first hand. Very smart!

     But then again, Heartland has made a number of very smart moves since its inception. As an example, in July 1997 Heartland changed the landscape for merchant credit card salespeople throughout the country. They delivered the first true “cost plus” pricing to industry sales professionals. For the first time, hundreds, if not thousands, of industry members learned of the true costs of merchant processing at all levels. And last year (January 1999) Heartland adopted a 100% exclusive, all-employee workforce with signing bonuses and quality jobs for up to 540 professional salespeople. These smart moves, along with a number of others are the reason that HPS has continued to grow in such a remarkable way. (See my comments in the November 1999 GSQ).

     “Although our company took a lot of heat from our competitors for ‘full disclosure’ of all of the costs and income streams, many in the industry have followed our lead. Now many companies have adopted our full disclosure policy with their sales representatives,” notes Bob Carr. “Although our employee workforce model has not as yet been adopted by others in the industry, I believe that it soon will be, as the Heartland sales force continues to take market share from the competition.”

      In keeping with a growing list of industry leadership efforts, Heartland has now announced a suite of Internet tools designed to help the HPS sales professionals maximize the use of their time and the value of their merchant portfolios, through a product and project called, what else, PortfolioManager.

      This set of Internet tools was designed for the sole purpose of helping sales professionals become more efficient and build more value for themselves. HPS reports that PortfolioManager (PM) is designed for daily use. Just like going into e-mail, the user can go into PM and receive messages and have a chance to respond. What messages? The first items a user sees are applications which have been pended and why. We are told PM allows the sales professional to respond directly to sales support to fix a pended application—no more overnights or faxing (except for a missing signature) and no more phone tag with sales support!

     The sales professional also sees attrition suspects. These are the merchants who have not made recent deposits. By learning immediately who is not depositing, the sales professional can (sometimes) help catch problems before they are too old to remedy.

     PM is moving to provide Internet delivery of the status of every single application HPS receives in their St. Louis facility, and to be able to view what is approved, declined, pended, and installed. Now, if you are thinking you really do hope that your financial institution or upstream ISO/MSP does a copy cat and begins providing Internet access for you in the near future, Heartland is just beginning its leadership role in Internet portfolio management tools.

     Bob Carr notes that HPS sales professionals will soon be able to “tie in sales prospecting, tickler files, make use of a Palm Pilot interface, make signing bonus adjustments, and access the sales professional’s 401K, company insurance, or HPS stock options.”

     Very smart, very smart indeed.

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