Since most business professionals are likely to shop around for the best deal when it comes to selecting office space or even office supplies, it only makes sense to shop around before selecting a merchant services provider. Merchant services providers vary greatly. Not only do some features vary greatly, but so do rates for similar processes. The following tips and techniques will help you shop around for the best deal and they’ll also help you assess merchant providers’ services so you can choose to work with a company that is best suited to your own.
Make a Short List
There are quite a few merchant services providers in existence, so you’ll need to compile a list of the ones with the services you require. You can then narrow these to a short list and research each one to find the best match with the best prices. Like anything else, cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better. Talk to others to see what merchant services providers they use. You can also find reviews of companies online; these references will help you narrow down your list until you make your final selection.
Assessing Merchant Services
Take your time when researching various merchant providers. It’s easiest to get information online, but don’t be fooled by a savvy website. Make a list of the features you want and then check off the matching ones offered by each company. Also, consider your own level of comfort when setting up an account. Is it more important for you to work with a local bank instead of a larger credit card company that offers lower rates? Furthermore, some institutions are simply better at dealing with small businesses or one-person entrepreneurs than others. Read online reviews and also talk to customer service representatives. Does it take fifteen minutes of button pressing to connect to a human or does the company have reps that can immediately break down their services with competent and friendly demeanor?
Cutting to the Chase: Assessing Cost
Once you narrow down your choices to companies who offer the services you require along with a level of customer service you need, you can get to the nitty gritty of cost analysis. Always investigate a cheap price-tag. If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true; look for hidden fees and penalty costs. Some ecommerce companies might even try to lure you in with free accounts, but be sure to understand exactly what your financial obligations will be per transaction. Sometimes merchant providers offer competitive prices that do not, unfortunately, include all the features you want—those cost more. See if a company is willing to bundle the services you need for a negotiated price that is in keeping with competitive industry rates. Cost may not be everything when it comes to the selection process, but it is certainly one of the most important criteria.
What Kinds of Services Should You Check Into?
First of all, be sure that one merchant services provider can actually provide all the services you’ll need or may need eventually. It can be a serious hassle to get a few services from one provider and the rest from another. Besides, it can be more economical to get a package deal for all services needed from one qualified provider. While features to collect electronic payments and store credit card information are generally important for most businesses, be sure to check into other features like establishing virtual terminals and risk and fraud protections.
Trust your gut instincts when it comes to making a final selection—do you or don’t you trust this institution? If you suspect their fees are a roller coaster of bait and switch, they probably are. A level of underlying trust is certainly important in terms of financial matters, but it’s required for other areas, too; you don’t want a company to take advantage of your lack of industry knowledge. Be sure this company discloses their capabilities and that they will keep you informed about industry changes—the merchant providers industry is a dynamic one and you’ll likely be too busy keeping abreast of your own company’s matters to follow the ups and downs of your merchant provider. More than anything, considerable research into a company’s background is important. If you have a big company, you need a provider that can effectively handle the level of support you need. If you are a start-up, it’s essential to find a provider that has an excellent track record of working with small businesses and people like you. While it may seem like there’s a lot of work involved in the selection process, it’s worth it to invest the time beforehand so you can find a provider that keeps things running smoothly later on. If you have to invest too much time afterward, chances are—something’s wrong.
Guest post contributed by Maria Chambers on behalf of ChoiceMerchantServices.com – Maria is a freelance writer with an extensive background as a small business advisor. To find out more about merchant services, visit their website.