The service industry has been constantly evolving over the past 25 years. Eric Douay, a business specialist with Fair Merchant Solutions, has identified some main areas of change as well as the pros and cons of shifts in the industry.
First of all, it is no longer enough to promote the features of a product or service and simply wait for customers to get in the literal or figurative door. Professionals need more than ever to understand the importance of emphasizing the benefits of their product or service to their clientele, to actively create value attraction and build loyalty. According to a recent survey, loyalty programs alone based on rewarding customers for frequency of use are by no means automatically effective in retaining customers.
Secondly, a shift in the customer experience has occurred. The one-size-fits-all marketing model is now outdated. Service professionals must understand the essence of market segmentation. For example, baby boomers do not seek the same experience as the millennials. Business owners and operators need to know exactly which customers they want to attract, in order to know which product or service they should promote and how it should be marketed to a particular demographic.
Lastly, there has been a seismic shift in technology. Many tasks have been automated and many jobs eliminated. The rapid evolution of technology, however, presents tremendous opportunity for a variety of industries. Technology aides in the streamlining of work processes as well as the building of brand awareness at a fraction of the traditional cost. It provides the capability to reach out to customers across the globe via the internet, using company websites and social media platforms. All of these technological advancements make marketing more efficient and affordable than ever before. While technology is not the answer, per se, to building a business, it offers many cost-effective tools and opportunities.
Eric Douay explains, “Good service is no longer enough to keep your customers satisfied and wanting more. Great service has become the minimum ticket for attracting the customer’s attention.” Now the question becomes: what do we do once we have their attention? How do we keep their attention and how do we turn them into our biggest supporters? In our fast-paced and competitive society, there’s no time for guesswork. You can lose a customer in the time it takes to click a mouse or close a window on the computer. For this reason, more and more merchants are hiring companies such as Fair Merchant Solutions to assess their core business strategies, including all the ways they are or could be identifying, attracting, impacting, and retaining customers. Fair Merchant Solutions analyzes your business from the inside out and crafts an individualized action plans for the acceleration of your business growth and profit.
Whether you own a travel agency, a chain of stores, a restaurant, or an online marketing service, a merchant account is necessary in order to accept credit or debit card payments. In order to excel and build a healthy profit, business owners and operators need to obtain the most affordable rates possible for merchant services. But what business owner has time to waste on navigating such complicated waters? Business owners and managers alike want to, and need to, focus on what they do best: their products, their services, and their customer relations.
Most merchants are troubled to learn that usually, despite their best efforts, they have not negotiated an ideal merchant services solution. Unfortunately, sales representatives in merchant services direct them almost exclusively to front-end rates. These rates are only one piece of a very complicated puzzle and are often misleading. Front-end rates are referred to as ‘merchant discount rates,’ a euphemism which leads business owners to believe they are negotiating a fantastic deal, though they are often receiving the standard rate or, worse, a discount offset by hidden back-end fees. Discounts usually come at a direct cost in the form of back-end fees. Front-end rates never represent the total fees associated with credit card processing. Other fees are hidden in things such as the types of transactions and the types of credit cards that will be submitted, although the details surrounding these aspects are hidden deep within the service contract.
Fair Merchant Solutions offers you FREE analysis of your transactional trends, with the goal of creating a processing profile on which to build a customized solution for how your company can save money in this area. By reviewing your current merchant statements over a designated period of time, Eric Douay and his team at Fair Merchant Solutions will quickly understand where your business is with regard to merchant service processing fees. They can then tailor a customized rate scenario for you to use in pursuing a new contract, one that will reduce processing costs and curb the impact of merchant service fees on your overall profitability.
Since 1997, Eric Douay has helped businesses, both large and small,
streamline operational practices and reduce the costs of merchant processing, sales, and invoicing. He focuses on transparent communications as well as on a quick but thorough assessment of the business situation. “When I meet a merchant,” Eric says, “I know merchant services is not their passion or their priority, although it is a necessity. I want them to understand that I understand their frustrations, and I’m here to help.”
Like you, the members of Fair Merchant Services are passionate about their profession. They look forward to partnering with you in your entrepreneurial endeavors. What you stand to gain is that you get to keep more of what you make!
Rates are only one factor to consider when contemplating a potential change in your merchant services plan or provider. In conjunction with the various pricing strategies, others dynamics should motivate your decision for change. These include:
- Integration of payment gateways with merchant business systems
- Access to prime technology services, including shopping carts, mobile payments, multi-currency processing, e-invoicing, electronic funds transfer, and more
- The highest standards of security, i.e., PCI standards of compliance
- Frequency of funding—every day vs. weekly
- Removal of or reduced collateral requirements, e.g., security deposits, letters of credit, rolling reserves, hold backs
For many small business owners, the contracts involved with merchant services are a jumble of legalese, numbers, and mysterious technology. As one small business owner recently explained, “I felt so lost. Out of three companies that approached me when I started my business, I simply went with the one whose representative seemed most trustworthy.” Even though this ambitious entrepreneur felt highly uncomfortable with this selection process, he just didn’t know what else to do. He had to focus on his product offerings, services, and clientele. He simply didn’t have a lot of time to spend selecting a merchant services provider.
Understanding the gradations and nuances of credit card processing is a job that requires a specialist. How can a business owner, for example, know whether or not his or her business will be classified by the provider as a high-risk merchant? There are many complex issues that impact the true cost of merchant processing. Eric Douay, a leading expert on merchant processing, is passionate about educating clients about merchant services, so they can fully understand all their options in this complex marketplace.
Douay’s company, Fair Merchant Solutions, knows the importance of properly preparing small business owners regarding the rules and dynamics specific to their particular business as it relates to merchant services. Eric Douay and his associates offer a quick and simple approach. They request a single copy of your most recent 30-day merchant statement. Other than that, they ask only that you complete a simple one-page questionnaire. That’s all it takes to get started on making your business more successful, by not allowing merchant services fees to drain off a sizeable portion of your hard-earned profits.
Today, regardless of your industry, the business world is more competitive than ever. In this regard, it is increasingly important for owners and operators to have a firm grasp on the new business paradigm—marketing with an eye to over-delivering as well as fostering a genuine emotional connection between your brand and your customer.
Success now requires that we truly “WOW” our customer. This can only be done if we actually know them and if we have built an honest, personal connection with them. Companies must go so far as to pro-actively anticipate – not simply react to– customer needs, desires, and expectations.
In addition to being pro-active, business professionals must be genuinely concerned and care about their customer’s business issues as well as their lives. Products and services affect peoples lives in many way, making their days easier, less stressful, more fun, possibly healthier. Businesses must become customer-centric, making the client feel like a guest or friend, asking thoughtful questions, and nurturing loyalty. As part of this, it’s important to integrate the customer into the quality process, by soliciting their feedback through a purposefully-designed system of quality assessment. Customers need to feel you reaching out, wanting to provide them with the highest quality care, wanting to give them a product or service that is the best it can be.
Nowadays it’s more important than ever for management teams to consider their customers valuable friends and key assets of the company. Fair Merchant Solutions business specialist Eric Douay says business owners and operators should consider how to make their clientele “the most devoted ambassadors of their brand. The idea is to turn clients into fans who rave relentlessly about their products and services, thus promoting the business in a natural and cost-effective way.” The only way to achieve this is by continually blowing your customers expectations out of the water.
There’s no question that competition in today’s marketplace is incredibly challenging, particularly with the emergence of deep-pocketed, multi-national online sites. As an independent agent or small-to-medium-sized business, you face an uphill battle if you are going to rise above all that. Establishing and maintaining a resilient, ethical foundation for your business through a superior product and exceptional customer relations makes closing each sale practically inevitable. The key elements of business success expand and shift, but never really change. Eric Douay recognizes this. While applying and integrating modern aspects of business acumen, he promotes and educates his clients in proven, time-honored systems and methods. His company, Fair Merchant Solutions, specializes in tailoring industry best practices to individual organizations, based on a deep understanding of each company’s unique products, services, clientele, and needs. Reduced marketing, sales, and operational costs are just some of the many benefits participants will enjoy from a close collaboration with this company.
Did you know that most companies pay more than they need to in credit card fees? This usually happens due to the tangle of numbers, legalese, and technology involved with choosing a merchant services provider. Eric Douay is a leading expert on merchant processing. He and his organization, Fair Merchant Solutions, want to help business owners understand their options and help them keep more of their profits.
If your company accepts credit or debit cards, your bottom line is affected by merchant processing. This is true whether your company exists as brick and mortar, exclusively online, or somewhere inbetween. Eric Douay explains, “A solid understanding of payment processing systems is often the difference between incurring a loss and making a profit or, for others, making a great deal more profit.”
However, to become well-versed in payment processing, an individual would need to spend years studying this subject and, even then, he or she probably still wouldn’t be an expert. By working over the years with thousands of merchants, meeting with peer groups, and attending industry trade shows and seminars, the professionals at Fair Merchant Solutions have acquired a depth of knowledge in this area and they can stay current on everything transpiring in this rapidly-changing industry. Fair Merchant Solutions can efficiently and effectively educate you and your managers in merchant-services best practices. Moreover, while working with them, you’ll also learn how to avoid scams that can threaten the heart of your business.
Eric Douay teaches his clients about the dangers of relying on Visa and MasterCard merchant discount rates to calculate costs that will be incurred when accepting credit card payments. “It’s like going to the car dealership,” he explains. “You see a car that you like with an appealing price tag, but by the time you sign the sales contract and agree to the preparation, transportation, and other fees, the car is 10-30% more expensive than anticipated.” This exact same principle applies in the merchant services industry.
Eric Douay and his colleagues work to educate business owners and operators in the reality of merchant service rates and fees, as well as the key elements to consider when selecting a provider. “Our goal,” Eric explains, “is to educate each entrepreneur so that he or she can make wise and informed decisions about this area of business. Complete transparency is our motto. We tell you everything you need to know and there is no hidden agenda.”
Many entrepreneurs pride themselves on constantly striving to create new-and-improved recipes for success. However, for Eric Douay, business specialist and Creator of Value with Fair Merchant Solutions, “the fundamental rules never change.” Eric explains that there are two key elements that will bring permanent success to any company: proper marketing and strong work ethics.
Business owners and operators must work to full and specifically identify their clientele. Next, they must work to understand their client’s frustrations and underserved needs, and figure out how best to reach this particular client.
Today, there is no doubt that business owners and company leaders need to know how to use social media to adequately communicate with their prospects, their customers, and their community. However, these tools must successfully support a well-designed marketing strategy. They are not strong enough and not meant to drive the marketing strategy.
For starters, this means that businesses must avoid one egregious error: becoming too focused on a remedy without first considering their market and defining their target audience. What sets a company apart from its competition and who are its ideal customers? Answering these questions is key to attracting and keeping customers and, therefore, to the growth of sales and profits.
Work ethic is fundamental to business success. Marketing expertise is necessary, of course, but if a business owner or operator wishes to ensure permanent success, he or she must combine that tool with an exemplary work ethic, one the entire staff understands and is willing to uphold.
At first, this might seem obvious. Most owners and operators can often articulate their ethical codes. Often they sound something like this: stand by one’s personal and professional integrity, negotiate fairly for all parties involved to achieve mutual wins, and commit to delivering results. These ideals, however, must be more than words; they must become tangible and measurable realities within the business-client relationships.
Your Partner In Marketing and Ethics
Since 1997, Eric Douay has helped businesses, both large and small, in the travel, hospitality, and general service industries streamline practices and reduce costs. Eric and his associates lead by example, demonstrating honesty, integrity, and both a leadership and a service mentality. They respect people’s differences and work to build trust to establish genuine relationships.
The fundamental rules of marketing and work ethic never change, although implementing and measuring the health and results of these facets isn’t easy. For this reason, more and more business owners are choosing to partner with Fair Merchant Solutions, an organization that specializes in helping build these time-tested strategies into the heart of your business operations.