Merchant services is a big industry with lots of options to choose from. You want to get your startup off the ground and processing credit cards on the right foot! Here is our quick guide to finding the right merchant services provider for a business at its beginnings.
1. Research Their Customer Support Services – Very Important!
Merchant services providers are notorious for poor customer support. Many are out-of-state and difficult to reach via phone or email. It is not uncommon for business owners attempting to get in touch with their merchant services provider to unsuccessfully navigate endless phone trees or sit for hours listening to hold music. Some wait for months before they receive a response about money on hold.
As a startup, you do not have the reserve funds to withstand long wait times. Make sure the merchant services provider you are looking at offers reasonable customer support hours and a reachable line. Perhaps try calling their customer service line before you hire them just to see if you can get through! As a local merchant services provider, we recommend hiring someone in-state so that you can visit their office if they are not answering the phone.
2. Make Sure They Have the Right Technology to Meet Your Needs
As a startup founder, you went into business to make your idea come to life. Don’t let technology limitations keep that from happening! Some merchant service providers only offer point-of-sale (POS) systems meant for stationary, brick-and-mortar applications. If you are a product-based business and you also have an online store, be sure your merchant services provider offers online services. If your employees need the ability to accept payments on-the-go, look for a merchant services provider who offers the ability to accept mobile payments. It is also wise to find a merchant services provider who knows how to handle EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) and NFC (Near-Field Communications) transactions, so that your customers who wish to pay using a chip card or their smartphone can do so.
3. Compare Their Rates with Others
When we say that you should compare the rates of merchant services providers, we do not mean that you should go with the lowest rate available. Often, merchant services providers who offer extremely low rates are being dishonest, either hiding fees or planning to hit you with the big ones after you have signed. There are a variety of pricing models used in the merchant services industry, and some make more sense for startups than others. It all depends on the volume of transactions you are handling, as well as how honest the pricing model is for the industry. You also want to consider the high value of good customer support when comparing the rates of various merchant services providers. The most transparent pricing model in the industry is the pass-through, interchange-plus model. For a more complete discussion of the best pricing models for your transaction volume, read our blog comparing the top four pricing models in the industry.
4. Read Their Reviews and Ask Around
One of the best ways to know if you have found a good merchant services provider for your startup is by reading the reviews of owners who have been in business for a long time. Read the provider’s online reviews and ask business owners you know in the community who they use for merchant services and why. You may also want to ask if they have had a bad experience with any specific providers or if they know by word-of-mouth who to avoid.
A strong customer support program, viable technology offerings, and good value are all important characteristics of the right merchant services provider for a startup. If you are just getting into business and looking for a local, Alaskan merchant services provider, give us a look at Cornerstone Credit! We are always finding new ways to provide the best customer service to our clients while beating national processing rates.