For a very long time, new businesses were my bread and butter. We got a list of new businesses and either called them or went to see them in person. I’m much more into switches now, but new businesses are a great way to get started. The only thing about new businesses is that it’s mostly a matter of timing. If you’re one of the first to call and your offer is good, you’re in. If you have a bank partner, odds are you are totally good to go! (See Chapter 21: Referrals and Partners.)
But let’s pretend either of those methods is out and you need another way to get your foot in the door with these prospects. One of your first ideas is to check your state. Most states offer a list of new businesses, and some come with phone numbers. Maryland charges a small fee, but no big deal. Some states like Virginia or Texas put their list online for free. The numbers you might get from the websites get hit pretty hard, so it’s best if you can go see them. You are much more likely to close a merchant in person than
over the phone. Your next idea is the phone company. Some phone companies or even cable companies will sell you a list of new business phone numbers, which can be expensive, but the money you can make off them is incredible. Give them a call and see what they’re charging; give it a try and see what works for you!
However, the biggest opportunity in this business today is to “switch” a business’s credit card processing account from their current processor to your processing partner. There are over ten million businesses that accept credit cards in the US, but there are slightly fewer than five million that know they can now get lower rates. The good news is that the opportunity is there, but the bad news is it’s not as easy as you might think. Many a business owner has been fooled by a merchant-level sales rep (MLS) who promised the world in savings but didn’t deliver or actually increased their rates and fees. Last spring I went to my boat mechanic to get my spring service, and yes, he is my client. When I went to pay with my debit card, I noticed a credit card terminal other than the one I had installed. I asked him about it and he said, “Our keyed rates were too high, and we had to
make a move.” I couldn’t believe it! Not only had a very slick salesperson gotten him to switch, but even though we had placed a free terminal with him, they actually got him to lease a new terminal. I said, “OK, can I at least take a look at your contract to see if they were telling the truth?” He said, “No problem.” In a matter of seconds I found his qualified rate of 1.69, which was fine, but his mid-qual and his non-qual rates were sixty
basis points higher (see Chapter 10: Pricing). Fortunately, it was easy to point out, and he really felt taken when I told him he was paying about $100 a month more instead of saving $100 a month. He had signed a contract with this new company, and he had to pay $350 to get out of his contract. Then he signed a new deal with me. He promised me he would never switch again and thanked me for helping him out!

So to get a merchant to switch, provide proof positive that this is going to work out as promised. You can accomplish this by getting a previous processing statement (see Chapter 19: The Plan) and submitting the statement to our statement analysis department. We will put it in writing, and at your next meeting you can show your client the good news and close the deal right then and there! Switches help you increase your up-front
bonuses and make great residuals, as you don’t have to wait for the business to mature like you would with a new business. Whatever you do, when talking about a business’s current rates, never say that they are getting ripped off by their current processor. Different companies have different pricing, and you can be sued for “trash talking” other companies regardless of what they charge. Any company that has the money to sue you can and will make your life miserable. Another lesson of this business is that there will always be a company who charges more than yours, and there will always be a company who charges less. Rates are a great way to start the conversation, but the bottom line is that your new clients need a
solution that meets their needs, a fair rate, and great service. That is what will keep them happy and your business prosperous. Sticky items like a free terminal or a POS system, or even gift cards, don’t hurt either.