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I'm Ready to Sell ATMs, but Where Do I Start?

By Tommy Glenn

I hope you found my previous article, "Will You Make More Money by Adding ATMs to Your Product Line?" (The Green Sheet, May 23, 2005, issue 05:05:02), informative. I also hope that the article inspired you to seriously consider selling ATMs.

While adding ATMs to your product line is a smart business strategy, some of you still might be concerned that it will take time away from your core business. Or, if you think you're ready to sell ATMs, you don't know where to begin.

Remember that selling ATMs is not an all-or-nothing proposition. There are three different levels of involvement; each has specific responsibilities, cost structures and potential revenue opportunities, so pick the one that's right for you.

In this article, I'll explain each level and provide information to help you get started by selecting the right ATM partner relationship.

Level One: The Referral Relationship

In a referral relationship, you will incur the least amount of risk in both upfront and ongoing capital investment. Several ATM ISOs and banks (ATM partners) in the marketplace offer referral programs for companies that don't want to actively sell ATMs, but have relationships with merchants and other businesses that could benefit from having an ATM.

A typical referral arrangement works like this: You provide an ATM partner with customer information (a referral). The ATM partner contacts the potential customer (jointly or individually) and develops a program to sell, lease or place an ATM. When they consummate the deal, the ATM partner pays you a one-time fee following installation of the ATM.

Level Two: The ATM Distributor or MLS

This level will require your time and resources for training and ongoing sales efforts but will probably not require upfront capital or other resources. You will need to develop industry and product knowledge sufficient for generating sales leads and closing deals.

Most ATM partners will provide initial training to prepare you and support your sales efforts in the field. A top-notch organization will offer ongoing training, marketing materials and field support. Many organizations provide telephone and/or Internet-based training, which is very helpful.

Make sure to visit the organization for face-to-face training. This will help you begin building long-term relationships with the people in the organization with whom you will work daily.

If several people on your team need training, select an ATM partner that has a training staff available to visit your offices.

Because the typical ATM installation is significantly more labor intensive and often more complicated than a POS terminal installation, the best organizations will also provide turnkey signage and nationwide installation packages.

Most quality organizations will require you to work with a trained technician to install the ATM or become certified prior to involvement in the installation. These efforts will greatly benefit you and your customers.

In addition to providing training and sales support, any worthwhile ATM partner should also provide data processing and settlement for ATM transactions; customer service and technical support for you and your customers; monthly and/or real-time statements and reporting; and nationwide service for ATMs from the major manufacturers.

As part of the arrangement, your ATM partner should also offer wholesale prices for ATMs. The best partners will provide competitive pricing for all the major manufacturers' ATMs and let you decide which models you want to sell.

When choosing a partner, also consider leasing opportunities. A quality partner will offer leasing as part of the package. If a company provides leasing for most credit ratings at reasonable rates, you will have a major advantage over the competition.

As an ATM distributor or merchant level salesperson (MLS), expect to receive equipment pricing that allows you to make some margin on the equipment sale or lease; a profit or fee-based interchange sharing relationship; and the opportunity to generate income from selling maintenance contracts on the ATM.

Pricing and programs vary greatly from one ATM partner to the next, so do your homework. Some additional "value adds" offered by a few ATM ISOs include income from online real-time statements, bank branding, surcharge-free ATM network participation, multi-product ATMs and, if the organization is qualified, training for service certification.

Level Three: The ATM ISO

The ATM ISO level requires a significantly larger investment in capital and time than the previous two levels described. Before making any commitments, strongly consider the advantages of first entering the business as a distributor or MLS.

As a distributor or MLS, you will increase your knowledge of the business and make beneficial contacts within the industry. While this is not the best path for everyone, it might save you money and some long sleepless nights.

Regardless of whether you choose to start out as a distributor or MLS, or jump right in and become a full-fledged ISO, create a business plan. Make sure that you not only understand the capital requirements and risk but also how well you can satisfy those requirements and manage the risk.

Then select the best partners for equipment, data processing and third-party service relationships.

After you meet these requirements, make sure that you can provide customer service, technical support, and statement and funds settlement. If not, at least have a reliable outsourcing partner that will provide these services.

A few ATM ISOs provide wholesale relationships that are similar to the relationship with your own ISO.

Whatever level of involvement makes the most sense for you and your organization, thoroughly review all potential partner alternatives and select the company or companies that will provide the best long-term opportunity for you, your organization and your customers.

In the next article, I will address how to effectively incorporate ATMs into your current sales process. If you have questions, comments or suggestions for future articles, please e-mail me at . I look forward to hearing from you.

Tommy Glenn is President of Fort Worth, Texas-based NetBank Payment Systems (NPS). Glenn serves on the Board of Directors for ATMIA, the ATM Industry Association. He is also on the Board of Deliver Me, a service group that provides food, shelter and clothing for the elderly. E-mail him at, or call him at 817-334-8871. NPS, formerly Financial Technologies Inc. (FTI), is the nation's third largest ATM deployer and the single source provider for payment processing solutions. It offers a full range of ATM products and services. NPS is a wholly owned subsidiary of NetBank, the first commercially successful Internet bank. Visit NPS' Web site at .

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