By Jeffrey I. Shavitz
Affinity Solutions Inc.
This is the second article in the three-part Street SmartsSM series titled "Controversial questions and answers." The articles are based on eight questions I presented to members of GS Online's MLS Forum. The first installment appeared in The Green Sheet May 25, 2015, issue 15:05:02. This article addresses questions four through six.
I found these responses illuminating in terms of how I perceive the business versus my peers. They also brought to mind several other topics for reflection. I hope the thoughts presented herein will provide insights you can use in running your business and in shaping the values you convey to your organization, your merchants and, ultimately, yourself. Please contact me with additional thoughts, and I'll delve into more detail on some of the issues raised in these Q&As in future issues.
Forum member Diego wrote, "Nothing, but the things that I dislike are common in most industries."
Steve Norell stated, "This could be a long list, but let's keep it simple.
A: Why on earth can we all not agree on the fact that we need some type of real certification? If all we did was start with charging $500 a year if you want to sell in this biz, we would get rid of 50 percent of the crap overnight. This should be a condition of the Sponsor Bank, which would compel everyone to comply or be fined. B: The constant deception by competitors whether it is in person or telemarketing.
C: The lack of scrutiny by ISOs of their crap apples. That should start the ball rolling." Steven_Peisner said, "Although I can write a long essay, I will keep it short. What do I hate about our industry . . . lying reps and cheating ISOs; mis-coding; paying $10,000 a year for absolutely nothing; the fact that you can report liars and cheaters, and a year later they are still in the business lying and cheating; the fact that I can't compete with MasterCard & Visa's wholesalers offering no middle-man rates; the fact that MasterCard & Visa are calling merchants directly offering better rates; that almost every week I get a fax from Bobby Powers telling me not to pay for credit card pricing, offering me free machines, free supplies, free wireless units, with next-day funding, no annual fees, no termination fees, and a month-to-month contract; and lastly that there is very little loyalty left in what was once an amazing industry."
Marinesteban stated, "I hate the lies and also hate some of the ungrateful merchants."
NWBC wrote, "mostly the lies and deception perpetrated on merchants ... this was the main reason I moved away from terminal-based merchants years ago, as they seem to be the most susceptible."
Jontucker1983 said, "Way too low of a barrier to entry. Anybody with a pulse can just come in and start selling. There's no background checks being done, no resumes being reviewed, nothing. This low barrier to entry has caused competent professionals to have a much more difficult time getting access to merchants who are getting 10 calls a day about something in relation to merchant services, with at least eight of those calls being complete time wasters.
"This industry needs to increase the barrier to entry by requiring a certification to enter. If you are serious about this as a career for a short period of time (one to three years) or a longer period of time (over five years), then you should have no quarrel about completing an education program and becoming certified for a price. Also there would be required continuing professional education to remain certified. This … would keep and attract professionals to our industry, reduce the amount of wasted calls merchants are getting on a daily basis, allow us to have higher margins, and allow us more access to merchants to sell more quality products."
Jontucker1983 added that it would also spur people entering the industry with no experience or guidance to find another line of work, because "most of them will be here for such a short period of time and make so little, that it, too, becomes a waste of their time. So doing this becomes a win all across the board."
I hate the commoditization of our industry, and I spend a lot of time trying to determine how to de-commoditize a commodity. It also drives me nuts when I have presented a proposal after months of establishing a relationship only to have the merchant go back to the existing processor to match my price. I also hate when I save a merchant hundreds of dollars per month and then the business owners says, "but you're still two dollars higher with your statement fee."
"I love the fact that the sky's the limit in this industry," Diego wrote. "You can become a billionaire if you want to."
Jontucker1983 said, "Free market capitalism at its best. The ability to customize products, solutions, technology, risk management services, etc., that allow you to stand out from everybody else in the industry and serve particular market niches. This industry represents all that is good about being a B2B sales professional."
Marinestban enjoys that the industry is "ever changing and also the flexibility that offers (both in lifestyle and compensation)."
Steve Norell stated, "The ability to give yourself a raise at any time and in a very short time."
NWBC wrote, "So many facets that everyone can find something they enjoy."
Steven_Peisner said, "Besides residuals, and some great long-term friendships/relationships that I have made through the years with industry professionals – there is not much that I love anymore about this industry."
I appreciate the ability to play golf with merchants and not feel guilty for "taking a day off of work." It's called relationship building. I also love the interaction with many entrepreneurs and learning how they started their companies and turned them into successful ventures.
Marinesteban responded, "LOL, is this a loaded question? For the record, no."
Steve Norell added, "Not just no, but hell no!"
Jontucker1983 wrote, "I can't answer yes or no to this because I don't know the majority of salespeople in our industry. What I do know, is that the rip-off reports are full of ISOs and their independent agents."
Diego noted, "I haven't met too many humans that don't put themselves first, and I've never met a salesperson without a sharp edge."
NWBC said, "The vast majority do not and in today's environment, it is very difficult for new people to enter the industry and make enough, fast enough, to draw the type of people needed ... so the industry 'pushes' many new salespeople in the direction of only looking out for themselves."
Steven Peisner wrote, "Using the keyword 'majority' – unfortunately no."
Stay tuned for the last two questions and answers.
Jeffrey I. Shavitz is the Managing Director of Affinity Solutions Inc. and its Navigator product. His experience in payments including co-founding Charge Card Systems Inc. that was sold to Card Connect in 2012, Alternative Merchant Processing, dedicated to high risk merchant processing and Charge Card Funding involved in the cash advance space. His first book "Size Doesn't Matter- Why Small Business is Big Business; Profit NOW from the Small Business Boom!" will be released July 2015. Prior to entering the payments space, he worked at Lehman Brothers in its Investment Banking division. For more information, he can be contacted at 800-878-4100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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