Lets all give thanks to the POS credit card terminal

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 17th, 2009

Being close to the holiday season, I figured it would be a good time to give thanks to the POS.  I feel the payment industry has been very blessed for many years and all of this is due to the POS, also known as the credit card machine.  Who was the very first company to introduce the POS and when exactly was that?  If it wasn’t for credit card machines, this whole industry wouldn’t exist. wouldn’t exist nor the thousands of payment processors out there as well as Internet commerce. 

Now, with all of this, you still need consumers to buy and pay with their plastic.  So we should also give thanks to all the consumers that do use their plastic.  Without them, the industry wouldn’t have grown from something very tiny to the behemoth that it is today.  If we are going to thank these two, we probably should also thank all the technology companies involved as well, as they helped make all of this happen by bring products & solutions to the table that made the acceptance possible.  Such as being created over a decade ago, creating a whole new industry known as Internet commerce.   In short, I’m grateful for the invention of the POS.  Without it, I wouldn’t have a job today with stable income and an opportunity to do something I really love.  So whether you are a merchant, consumer or one in the same industry as us, lets all be grateful and appreciate everything we have today.

4 Steps to avoid deadbeat clients

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 17th, 2009

Many small and even large businesses find themselves spending a lot of time on collecting from their clients.  You do not want to lose their business and even though they haven’t made any payments, you may extend them a little bit more.  And then guess what, they don’t make any payments!  First, get strict when lending new credit, especially to new clients.  Insist on some type of credit card payment or guarantee.  Secondly, give more scrutiny when considering new clients.  Do your research thoroughly.  Do a background check on the company and talk to some of their references.

Thirdly, maintain control over account receivables.  If an account is 30 days past due, give the client a call and start letting them know their payment is due and you will insist prompt payment.  Lastly, find a good debt collections agency.  A good agency can do wonders for you.  They will know all the laws they must abide by and are worth their 20% commission.  From my experience, you have better success when going after owners that have semi-good or great credit as those people generally care about their personal credit.  Ones with horrible credit will generally not care as much if any at all.  Interestingly though, most credit card processing service providers will not take debt collection agencies as a merchant so they can accept credit cards from the clients. Their are processors out there that will, but very few do.

When you thought fast food prices were already cheap

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 14th, 2009

Are you a fast food lover?  There seems to be good news for you during a tough economy.  Some national chains are reducing their already low prices to encourage consumers to keep coming through the door and making the cash register ring.   For example, McDonalds is rolling out a dollar breakfast menu early next year and Burger King has already been advertising a $1 double cheeseburger.  These sort of items have been the dollar price range for over a decade or longer.   Honestly, I’m a little surprised as I thought their margins were already tight.  I assume they are hoping customers will buy other menu items that cost more and will make up for the slim profit margins.   If you are a fast food restaurant owner and are considering this approach, be sure to keep in mind all of your costs, including credit card processing fees. They can turn into a big percentage when dealing with very small purchase amounts. The bad thing is most consumers have no idea how much the restaurant is paying and if they did, I’m sure they would change their habits in some form or fashion.  It is probably because I work in this industry and know all to well what merchants pay, but I have always personally been a cash paying customer when paying small dollar amounts.

Be sure to give thanks to your vendors & customers

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 14th, 2009

I think now is a good time to look back at your success for 2009 and give thanks to all of your vendors and customers that helped play a part in it.  Without your vendors, you wouldn’t have any products to sell.  Without your customers, you wouldn’t have anyone to buy them.  I do not know about everyone else in the credit card processing industry, but us here at, we are very grateful. We are also looking forward to a prosperous 2010. The last few years have been tough on all businesses, including our industry. With some laws passing this year about consumer credit cards and all the talk or push for regulation from some merchants like 7 Eleven, we are glad and grateful nothing much has changed yet.  No one can predict the future, but as of right now, things seem to be looking on a more positive note.  Hopefully, 2010 will be a much better year for the economy as a whole.  So while you are spending time with your families this holiday season, give thanks and be glad your business survived another year in this tough economy.  If you are able to make it through this economy, think of what you will accomplish during a thriving economy!

An Internet site linking up apartment owners & renters

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 14th, 2009 is a site that is designed to reward renters if they pay their apartment complex electronically instead of a check.  Instead of writing a check, they can pay with their credit card and receive reward incentives from their credit card company.  Some of the consumers that used the service has stated that it is nice to receive rewards for a bill you must pay anyways.  It appears that they charge the consumers $9 to use the service, which is not great.  By paying a fee, I do not see how any rewards from your bank would be beneficial as the service fee is eliminating any benefits.

On top of charging the consumer, they charge the apartment owner a percentage while covering the credit card processing fees themselves. ClickPayRent’s CEO made the comment that they struggled for a long time trying to find the right credit card processor. He mentioned it required extensive negotiations to find a processor that wouldn’t charge too much. I’m guessing he hasn’t ever heard of or was told about Interchange plus pricing. One thing surprised me is he found a provider that would allow him to surcharge the transactions. Since they are not a government entity, they are not allowed to add a surcharge to their transactions. Since it is all credit card based and cash isn’t accepted, I’m not quite sure if this would still fall under that rule or not, but it is a very fine line in any event.

When the small business turns to franchising

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 11th, 2009

Many small business owners are struggling today.  Some are working more than 60 hours a week.  One example is Nathan who built up his Sure Signs business for 18 years.  He was concerned with the level of involvement  he has on a daily business and what would happen if he would disappear.  His wife wouldn’t have a clue where to begin.  Nathan starting looking at franchises, Fastsigns in particular.   He took the plunged, invested $60K and reopened under the new name.  The following June, he has his best month ever.  Things have been slow during the fall, but Nathan said that was the best choice he has ever made.  Nathan recommends you do extensive research and once you make your decision and go with it, there is no turning back.  He also mentioned that since you are going with a big brand, that can come with some buying power when dealing with vendors, such as with your credit card processing companies. I do not know the details, but I’m sure franchisees like Subway have some unbelievable deals. I think merchants should also ask themselves, what kind of service will I receive for the kind of pricing I’m paying. It may be great pricing, but you may be telling yourself, “I got what I paid for.”

Fairytale Brownies, how they empower their business

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 9th, 2009

Fairytale Brownies empowers its business mostly from printed catalogs they mail to almost 2 million households yearly. They normally gross over 7 million a year. Even though they draw most of their business from the Internet and the catalog mailings is their biggest lead source, it is all because most of the people that go to their site received the catalog in the mail. They have also created their own shopping cart system that was customized from an off the shelf product. They use First Data for their credit card processing service. They said the key to their success is their cart runs everything except accounting. It runs shipping, printing the orders, manage the customer database and inventory all the transactions. They also mentioned a few other things such as giving employees the power to make sure every customer is satisfied, how you label an employee and what they do with customer service. I did noticed they do not have much of an organic SEO campaign besides their blog, so they could be missing out a lot there. However, 7 to 8 million a year in sales says they are doing fairly well already. I simply wonder how much better they could do.

Google’s new future algorithm

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 8th, 2009

I recently read an article that I totally agree with when it comes to SEO.  This really doesn’t relate much to the credit card processing business, but I felt every ecommerce business should know this. There have been studies published that show a web site’s speed & load time has a definite affect on its conversion ratio. Us humans are impatient and we are expecting web sites to load faster than ever before. There has been talk among the SEO industry that load speed would find its way into Google’s ranking algorithm. Google hasn’t stated anything of such, but they have released a new feature in webmaster tools that shows you statistics on how fast your site has been for Google and how long some pages have been taking to load. This is a big sign that Google very well may end up implementing this in their rankings, as early as 2010.

It makes complete sense to me. They use the service for their adwords, which is the bread & butter for Google, why not implement it for the organic results, the big drive that brings users to Google to search in the first place, which gets people to click on their paid links. I would recommend looking into this and get your website up to speed. If you need to get a faster web host, then do it.

What some CEOs have done to prepare for the holiday sales

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 2nd, 2009

A few CEOs have shared their strategies for the holidays that I thought was helpful. The CEO for Barefoot Books brought on a new management team, new web site and a new focus. Instead of mailing out 150K catalogs like normal, they are relying on social media to do the selling this year and hopes it works out. The CEO of Daddies Board Shop ordered 10% more of their inventory than last year and have already had to reorder some products. She mentioned the discounting was very tough last year and they are not getting into it this year. Instead they are selling on the quality of product, that it is new and just arrived and worked on their sales presentation. She also believes consumers are tired of seeing sale signs. The CEO of has introduced a new line of baskets in the $20 range, but is being careful not to steer away from their core sale in the $60 range. Introducing lower in products can have a big impact on your sales, but you must also consider your credit card processing costs on those transactions as well if your margins are very slim.

Cyber Monday is a success for Amazon

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 2nd, 2009

Amazon is starting to release its sales data for sales on Cyber Monday.  They are reporting a 44% increase in visitors compared to 2008, which is great news for the ecommerce world.  This doesn’t indicate sales, but gives you an idea that things may be looking up.  Among the top retailers, they received over 15% of all US shoppers which is a big market share.  My personal favorite store, JCP, only received 2 1/2%.    Amazon’s success may have been because of the price wars between them & Wal-Mart which generated a lot of buzz.  Amazon also reported nice numbers for the third-party marketplace on their site, some sellers seem to have done nicely for Cyber Monday.  This should also be positive news for the credit card processing industry as our revenues are all tied to how much merchants process. We will know for sure in January, but I’m feeling good about things already.

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