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Issue 03:12:01
News

Industry Update

Trade Association News:
Closing the 2003 Tradeshow Season

Independent Industry Training On the Road

Visa, MasterCard in Talks With Retailers Over 2004 Debit Fees

National Bank Credit Card Pioneer, J.P. Williams, Dies

Views

Are Your Merchants Waiting at the Bus Stop or Calling for a Cab?

Features

Industry Leader:
Jared Isaacman

Making the Most of His Time and Business

Education

Street SmartsSM:
All For One...and One For All?

The FTC Case Against Electronic Financial Group, Inc.:
New Peril for the MLS

Twelve Steps to Building a Successful Sales Office and Three Steps to Ensuring You Keep Your Value

Interchange Untangled - Part 5

New Products

Swipe Access for On-site and Online Customers From a Desktop

Accept and Cash Checks Like the Big Guys

Company Profiles

TransFirst Holdings, Inc.

Inspiration

No MLS Left Behind!

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

SF Bay Area ISO's Five-fold Growth

Doing business in an economy that continues to move at a sluggish pace, in an industry marked by the constant turmoil of mergers and acquisitions, is challenging for many payment-processing ventures. Especially in the Silicon Valley, hit hard by both the dot-com bust and recession, it's a rare thing to find a company whose business is growing by leaps and bounds.

AmericaOne Payment Systems has managed to do something few others can claim. In an environment that might be described as dismal, they've managed to maintain strong growth and high standards of service for ISOs, agents and merchants.

Over the past year, this payment processing services provider has seen its merchant base expand fivefold, its staff more than triple, and has moved into a new 13,000 square-foot, high-tech facility in downtown San Jose, Calif.

All that expansion is the result of AmericaOne's innovative sales programs combined with its emphasis on providing excellent service to agents and their merchants. You might say its approach to payment processing is catching on.

David McMackin, President of AmericaOne Payment Systems, said the company's success over the past year can be attributed to two things: an almost fanatical commitment to service for Merchant Level Salespeople (MLSs), and a unique Merchant Acquisition Program (MAP) that pays a years' worth of residuals upfront on each approved merchant contract.

When it comes to commissions, AmericaOne subscribes to the Jerry McGuire "Show me the money!" philosophy. With hardware margins evaporating, and residuals that frequently are not paid as promised, an increasing number of ISOs/MLSs are jumping on AmericaOne's cash-upfront buyout bandwagon.

The MAP is based on a simple but winning formula. The value of sales is based on the entire merchant contract, not just hardware or residuals. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but what does this adage mean for ISOs/MLSs participating in this unique acquisition program?

First, agents can use the funds to fuel their own growth and focus on their core objective, which is signing new merchants. Every business needs capital to grow, and this program provides an ideal source with no cost of funds.

"The revenue generated by our Merchant Acquisition Program, coupled with our high service-level standards, propels our ISOs/MLSs to new levels of income and success," McMackin said.

Second, the buyout program is a great motivator and income accelerator for AmericaOne's ISO partners and their sales staffs. New representatives don't have to wait years to start making a respectable living like they do in the residual model. This makes it easier for the ISOs to hire new sales people and helps cut down on costly turnover.

Motivation levels and payouts remain high, as opposed to the tenuous nature of small residuals that take years to accumulate. With upfront payouts ranging from hundreds and thousands, to even tens of thousands of dollars for larger merchants, the program essentially makes AmericaOne a venture capital partner with the ISO's business.

High-quality customer service is the second facet of AmericaOne's success story.

"The service begins with the front-desk reception and how we answer the phone-'How may I provide you with excellent service?'-and this commitment to friendly, professional and expert service permeates all the way through our company," McMackin explained.

Quick, accurate response times are the foundation of AmericaOne's service policy, with most questions resolved in a single call. If an issue requires additional research, the sales support staff's goal is to call back within one hour; for complicated issues requiring in-depth research, its goal is a same-day response.

"Our senior management team has almost a century of combined experience in payment processing, and we strive to employ individuals with extensive industry experience-we want our staff to provide personalized, on-the-spot expert assistance," McMackin said.

Fast turnaround time on new merchant applications is another critical service policy component. AmericaOne's automated faxed imaging and management system retrieves, distributes and internally assigns tasks within multiple departments simultaneously, providing state-of-the-art efficiencies in new application processing.

Barring any unusual circumstances, most applications are reviewed and approved the same day or within 24 hours. Rapid approvals are one element of the company's overall approach to service; they're part of the reason its support staff is able to establish and maintain excellent ISO/MLS/merchant relationships.

AmericaOne's executives realize that pre-sales support can make or break an ISO/MLS. "We offer them all the tools and assistance they need so they can present themselves in a more professional manner," McMackin said.

"This includes providing one-on-one training, a comprehensive statement analysis tool with a customizable merchant-proposal feature and third-party closing assistance via the phone or through on-site field visits if necessary to close larger accounts.

"We do whatever it takes to help our agents be successful, including front-line sales and support to complete back-office services, and we deliver it in person, over the phone or via the Internet," he said.

This commitment to all their clients is evident in AmericaOne's low attrition rate: 4% annually. "We greatly value our merchant relationships, but it's our ISO/MLS relationships that deserve the accolades," McMackin said. "Their dedication and support have made AmericaOne the great company it is today."

Partners benefit not only from AmericaOne's internal industry knowledge but also from the combined knowledge of all their agents. "We continually share insights and trends among all our clients, which helps them stay ahead of the curve and be more successful in their specific regions," he said.

The final aspect of AmericaOne's successful platform rests firmly on leveraging technology. The company's principals have applied their years of processing experience to architecting a technology infrastructure second to none in the industry.

The design team made sure the operating system would be comprehensive: easy to use, Web- and standards-based, redundant, secure, flexible and include robust reporting.

Their Silicon Valley location has afforded AmericaOne with access to world-class software talent. Using these resources to their fullest, the company has developed three technology-based Web sites to support agents and merchants: www.AOagent.com, www.AOreports.com and www.MerchantReports.com.

AmericaOne's site for online agent support is www.AOagent.com; it provides real-time updates on merchant files in process and information to help ISOs/MLSs more effectively run their day-to-day operations.

AmericaOne developed www.AOreports.com to provide an online income and expense reporting system for ISOs and agents. The site delivers portfolio-processing data with a comprehensive, drilldown menu feature with more than 70 income and expense line items for each merchant, and provides a complete audit trail for the ISO/MLS. The two-tier application offers an ISO-controlled, real-time income and expense reporting solution to facilitate payment to downstream sales representatives.

Each payment report can be generated on the system in seconds and can be printed or exported to Microsoft Excel. Alternatively, the data can be exported directly from the Web site in the latest Extensible Markup Language (XML) format. The site, AOreports.com, aggregates and delivers the merchant-processing data from all of AmericaOne's front-end processing platforms (Paymentech, Concord EFS, Vital Processing and Global Payments).

An online transaction reporting system serves two purposes: Using www.MerchantReports.com, merchants can research and reconcile transaction and settlement information easily and quickly from any Web browser.

The site is also an excellent merchant sales tool for ISOs/MLSs because it provides access to information including ACH transfer delivery confirmations, charge-back and retrieval tracking, batch summaries, imaged copies of the merchant's monthly processing statements.

For merchants, AmericaOne offers the same high levels of customer service as it does for MLSs. Toll-free assistance is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, through the company's network help desk.

Knowledgeable personnel handle processing questions and field inquiries on merchant statements. AmericaOne even offers specialized concierge services as part of their commitment to providing superb customer service.

One unusual feature in AmericaOne's program that merchants have really come to appreciate is the free equipment swap-out. When terminals have hardware problems, this progressive program even extends to equipment that merchants already own or that they purchased from other ISOs.

AmericaOne's developers have also built powerful custom applications that the senior management team uses to run their complex operations efficiently.

For example, the risk management system closely manages clients' portfolios by monitoring past performance, providing up-to-the-minute details, and conducting in-depth analysis of future trends.

"Our technology infrastructure gives us the ability to meet the goals of our Merchant Acquisition Program, which are to build long-term loyalty with our ISOs and agents, and capitalize their business so that they can expand and provide them with true financial security," McMackin said.

AmericaOne Payment Systems has made a name for itself through implementing a unique combination of new ideas (upfront residual payments paid years in advance to MLSs) and concepts that continue to stand the test of time (good, old-fashioned attention to the needs and concerns of customers).

As McMackin said, "We have brought a different way of thinking about how ISO and processor relationships should operate. We believe that we are changing the acquiring industry in a positive way."

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