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Spotting hot prospects for cool check services

By J. David Siembieda

As a payments professional, you know one size does not fill all when it comes to payment services. But that's good news. Custom fitting a program to meet individual merchant needs gives you a competitive edge. It adds value to your payment offerings and, potentially, increases your income.

Selling check services can help you customize programs to offer merchants the best solutions. It boosts your flexibility because check services provide merchants multiple benefits. Embracing new check technologies may even present you with prospects you might otherwise overlook.

Ever-present checks

Customers still write checks at the POS; merchants would have to turn away sales if they refused to accept this form of payment. And check services aren't just about bad checks anymore. Additional features make check services particularly attractive to businesses seeking payment programs, alternatives to credit and debit cards, and consolidated banking for multilocation stores.

New rules for back-office conversion have created a huge market for payment providers, as back-office conversion has tremendous benefits for just about any business that receives check payments by mail.

Check guarantee, check conversion and back-office check conversion can all offer merchants an effective and efficient way to process checks.

Standard check guarantee

Standard check guarantee is a proven, successful program for businesses that accept high-value checks. Car dealers, for example, rely on check guarantee to allow them to safely accept checks for $10,000 or more. The ability to take a large denomination check from a customer can mean the difference between making or losing a sale.

Other sectors ripe for check guarantee include auto repair shops, home furnishing stores and building supply firms.

Your offering should provide a hold-check or multiple-check program that allows businesses to take several checks for deposit over an extended time. Other beneficial services for businesses of all sizes include stop payment protection and c.o.d. programs.

Check conversion

Most check conversion programs have lower check limits (usually up to $1,500) than standard check guarantee. However, the check handling convenience can outweigh the smaller limits, especially when merchants no longer have to deposit checks in person at their banks.

Good candidates for check conversion include merchants who take a large volume of checks, businesses located where it is inconvenient to visit a bank daily or multilocation companies that want to have all of their checks deposited into one main account.

Check conversion should also provide online reporting, which enables accounting personnel to track payment status any time.

Keep in mind that very few providers can convert business checks. This has been a strong deterrent to conversion adoption, but it is rapidly changing due to innovative technologies that accept business checks and still conform to NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association rules.

Business checks are important to many retailers including florists, gift stores and office supply businesses. If your conversion company doesn't allow business checks, your merchants probably won't be satisfied in the long run.

Back office conversion

So, we've established that standard check guarantee and check conversion can be effective for purchases made at the POS. New markets are also emerging for additional technologies, such as back-office conversion, that provide solutions for businesses that accept payments via mail or in person.

Consider medical or dental offices that have limited personnel to handle payment processing. By reducing the time required to fill out deposit slips and eliminating trips to the bank, a small medical office will save hours of staff time.

That can result in a savings of hundreds of dollars each month, more than enough to cover the service's fees. Add guarantee features, and you'll also reduce the amount of returned checks.

Back-office conversion shouldn't be limited to medical offices. In addition, approach building maintenance companies, contractors, pest control shops or bookkeeping businesses. They tend to bill monthly and can use back-office conversion to process incoming checks. Consolidated banking benefits for multilocation offices apply for these business types, too.

Checks remain pervasive payment tools, and opportunities to sell check services are more diversified than ever. If you look at each business's needs and custom-fit a program, today's check services can open the doors to hundreds, if not thousands, of new prospects.

J. David Siembieda has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of CrossCheck Inc., a national check approval and guarantee provider, for over five years. He has over 15 years of experience in the check services field. He serves on the board of directors for the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. He is the Chairman for ETA's Membership Committee and is also a member of NACHA's Electronic Check Council.

CrossCheck has been at the forefront of check authorization services and technology since its inception in 1983. For more information on marketing check services and CrossCheck, please call 800-654-2365 or e-mail

Article published in issue number 060901

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