The weekend of March 10 saw the largest and most significant banking failure in the United States since 2008 until the Federal Government announced its (don’t-call-it-a-bailout) deposit guarantee on March 13.
Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank were thought to be niche and regional banks whose actions wouldn’t affect the broader banking industry, but when they had to sell some of the long-term US treasury bonds that they over-invested in at a loss as their worth plummeted when interest rates ballooned, panic quickly spread and launched the first social media run on the banks. To stop this, the Government guaranteed that all accounts in both banks would be guaranteed their full sums, even if they were over the FDIC-insured amounts of $250,000.
So with the benefit of two weeks of hindsight, how did this collapse affect the cash advance industry?
While Silicon Valley Bank catered primarily to the venture capital and tech industries, Signature Bank in New York was known for its welcome embrace of crypto and alt-finance businesses, and many MCA companies had accounts there.
When Signature Bank failed, some of the MCA companies we work with at Better Accounting Solutions started considering transferring their accounts to the “Big Four” banks: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo.
Their reasoning made sense: Amid criticism of their decisions in the aftermath of this collapse, representatives of the Government and financial regulatory agencies suggested they wouldn’t follow the approach they employed this time round if another bank failed, and instead would weigh up the specific bank’s size and significance in each specific instance to decide whether or not to guarantee depositor’s accounts.
Understanding that their funds would not be protected if there was another crisis in the banks they worked with, several cash advance companies wanted to move their funds to banks that would be considered “too big to fail”, and their money would be guaranteed by the Government in the case of a calamitous collapse. They also wanted to start spreading out their funds across multiple banks to not surpass $250,000 in any of them, to ensure their money was always insured.
There are two issues with this response to these legitimate concerns:
- When a merchant cash advance company starts working and relying on the services of a big bank, they do that without understanding the rules and regulations these banks impose on their clients and how they may be affected, particularly a cash advance company.
Even if you try to hide what your business does, once the bank finds out that you’re in the MCA space-and count on them finding out sooner rather than later-, you’re business will likely be subjected to a thorough, extensive and painful review process to determine whether you’ve broken any of their rules. During this time, they may freeze your accounts (on average for 3 months) and cripple your business’s ability to operate during this time.
- Additionally, when trying to stick the FDIC-insured sum of $250,000 in each bank, you’re limiting yourself to an extremely inefficient and unsustainable way of doing business. It affects your ability to cover your operating costs, fund deals and have money available on hand when you need it.
To responsibly manage these risks while balancing your ability to do business, this is what we’ve been advising our clients:
Before beginning to work with any bank, speak to people involved in the MCA space (brokers, funders and even accountants) to get a list of which banks are friendly to the industry. Ensure that they understand the business and don’t have onerous regulations and practices that will not allow you to run your business without their constant intervention.
Once you know which banks to work with, we advise our clients to open accounts with two of these banks and split their funds equally between them. This ensures they have somewhere to send their money in case one collapses, and if they can’t get it out in time, they still have access to half of their capital while waiting to see how the Government responds. This 50/50 approach allows MCA companies to run and grow their merchant cash advance businesses efficiently during ‘times of peace’ while anticipating and preparing for the consequences of another collapse.
As the Government proved during this crisis, in the age of rapid communication a massive run of the banks can be mobilized within minutes, which forced the Government to (“not”) bail out a small bank to stop a larger collapse. I-and other experts- remain convinced that in the event of another collapse, they’ll be forced to follow this same policy and guarantee all deposits of all sizes at all banks, which is why I confidently advocate for this 50/50 approach.
An important disclaimer: This is an opinion article analyzing the specific collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, and the response MCA companies should have to it broadly speaking. Every case and merchant cash advance company is different, and for specific advice and guidance, they should contact the author directly.
As reported by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, cosmetic surgical procedures have increased more than 3 percent in the past year, with approximately 1.7 million procedures performed in 2012*. This may not appear to be a drastic rise, but considering that in the past 16 years the number of cosmetic procedures for women has increased over 252 percent*, it is clear that this market is growing exponentially.
However, although more people might be opting for cosmetic procedures, it does not necessarily mean that more people have the funds readily available or are being approved for financing for such procedures. These can include anything from cosmetic surgery, Lasik eye surgery, cosmetic dentistry or even hair replacement.
When individuals do not have the money right away for these services, they typically can select the option of financing through their selected doctor’s office, if offered, or CareCredit, a credit card designed for patient health, beauty, and wellness needs. But if they are denied, where can they turn to next?
Healthcare industries now have the opportunity to offer an additional method of patient financing to guarantee patients have every possible option to obtain the funds they need for their desired service. External business financing institutions that provide healthcare and patient financing enable practitioners to ensure that no matter what, there is a way for a patient to obtain their desired procedures.
One of our close partners, a national Lasik surgery provider, has been able to expand their business by taking advantage of such financing services. As a national Lasik provider performing more than 950,000 procedures over the last 14 years, our client has been able to improve their CareCredit financing approval rates from an approximate 50 percent to almost 100 percent.
When denied CareCredit, the patient then has the option to get interest-free financing directly from any business financer. With a small deposit of varying percentages to the provider for the procedure, the doctor is removed as the middleman. This works as a non-recourse transaction, as the patient deals with the external financer directly for their monthly payments. These occur in small installments for the general option of 12 to 24 months, offering the patient flexibility without worry.
What opportunity does this present to ISOs? With the option of these new services, there is the potential for growth into an expanding and relatively untouched market. When offering this solution to doctors and medical providers as a method of subprime patient financing, the doctor can be assured of increased clientele and traffic growth for individuals who may have been previously denied by existing financing options. In addition, as many independent sales operatives currently work with credit card processors, this can only be seen as one more desirable service or market to explore.
* Reference source: http://www.surgery.org/media/news-releases/cosmetic-procedures-increase-in-2012
As we start off our first blog post in Merchant Processing Resource, I’d like to talk about a deal that we just got a factoring line for:
A landscaping company came to SFS because his business was starting really to take off and was beginning to get large contracts to provide masonry and landscaping work. The merchant was approved for a cash advance but it was not enough to cover the funds he needed. He applied to SFS+ for an Accounts Receivable factoring line and was approved for $500,000. The line allowed the merchant to sell SFS+ outstanding invoices for work that was already completed for a large office complex and shopping center. Between the factoring line and the Cash advance line the merchant received $650k in working capital!
He went to his local bank and while the bank said they love the depositing relationship, they have no interest in lending him money. Next stop: his accountant — the accountant said they would have to have a balance sheet for the bank. Well his business did not have 12 months to build his balance sheet he needs to address the opportunity (not a problem) today!
He found us though an SFS ISO and realized that we were a one stop solution for ALL of his cash flow needs.
SFS and SFS+ provided his business with a cash advance and factoring line. So, not only did they address his current opportunity they also enabled him to expand his business as much as he wants, and when his balance sheet is stronger he can go back to the bank.
So how do you know when factoring is a good option??
Ask them: “does your business have receivables?” if they say yes, ask them to submit your cash advance application and their business’ accounts receivable aging reports, we can then give you a quick response on how we can move forward.
Being my first post in the Small Business Corner, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Steve Ontiveros and I’m the founder of The Factoring Place. I’m good at finding the right factoring company for my clients based on their unique situations. Factoring and MCA really aren’t that different. Each company seeking a merchant cash advance is unique, like each factoring client is unique. Not all merchant cash advance companies are alike, and similarly not all factoring companies offer the same program & factoring rate. I became a factoring broker because I wanted to make sure my clients were getting the very best factoring deal for their unique situation.
Many factors lack the c-c-c-courage needed to fund a construction deal. Preliminary & Mechanic’s Liens, Payment & Performance Bonds, Progress Billing, and Retention, OH MY! Follow me along the “Yellow Brick Road” to mitigate the common risks of factoring construction deals.y factoring and merchant cash advance brokers turn down or walk away from construction companies seeking working capital. Factoring construction companies is a niche within a niche. As a broker, understanding the inherent risks of construction factoring can help you find the right factoring firm that will successfully fund your client. Understanding how each factoring company operates is also important to knowing whether or not your client will get funded.
Actually, you don’t have to live in the fantasy world of “Oz” to successfully navigate the unique risks found in a typical construction deal. When you peel back the curtain inside the “Emerald City Factoring Company,” you’ll find that there are no wizards or wizardry going on at all. But for this article, I’ll be your Emerald City Factoring Company Wizard. I’ll help you understand construction factoring giving you the confidence to walk the walk and get your construction client funded.
Construction Factoring 101: Preliminary Lien Notice & Mechanic’s Liens
A Preliminary Lien Notice is a formal document sent by the contractor, sub contractor, material supplier, equipment lessor – and factoring company in some cases– to the owner of the project. This “pre-lien” establishes the right to file a mechanic’s lien later on down the road. If the pre-lien is sent and the claimant’s bill is paid, the pre-lien has no further legal effect. However, if the bill is not paid then the claimant may now file a mechanic’s lien on the owner’s property. An active mechanic’s lien on a property ties that property up, leaving it in a position such that it cannot be sold or transferred to another party until the mechanic’s lien is released. Roughly 40 states in the US require a preliminary lien to be present before a mechanic’s lien can be enforced–check the laws in your state to see where you stand.
The Emerald City Factoring Company often requires its construction clients to provide evidence of a pre-lien being sent to everyone up the food chain, including the owners. In fact, Emerald City Factoring Company has been known to file a pre-lien of its own to further protect its position. True, Emerald City Factoring Company is not a contractor, supplier, or equipment lessor. But, because Emerald City Factoring Company has a blanket UCC1 on all assets of the client, the factor is indeed a supplier of material and equipment on the job. Even if the General Contractor argues a factoring company has no legal standing to file a pre-lien, the owner doesn’t care. The owner will simply tell the General Contractor to ensure all invoices are paid to all subcontractors so that the factoring company’s pre-lien won’t magically turn into a mechanic’s lien. Having the pre-lien in place allows the Emerald City Factoring Company to file a mechanic’s lien if payment is not made, which means the Wizards running the show can sleep well at night.
Construction Factoring 102: Payment & Performance Bonds
Performance bonds are used in the construction industry as a tool for the owner of the property being developed to guarantee that the value of the work will not be lost in the case of an unfortunate event (such as insolvency of the contractor.) A payment bond guarantees that the contractor will pay the labor and material costs they are obligated to. Shoddy work, sub-standard materials, and corner-cutting put Emerald City Factor’s factored invoices at risk, because if the owner throws your client off the job, the bonding company can step in and finish the job – and then back charges your factoring client. It’s unlikely that a bonding company will subordinate to the factoring company, and thus the factor’s lien on the receivables may be primed by the big bad bonding company.
So, how do you prevent the Wicked Witch of the West coming through to spoil the party, kick your contractor off the job, and call in the bonding company to clean up the mess? Unlike Dorothy, clicking your heels and repeating “there’s no place like home” won’t prevent the damage done by that under-performing contractor factoring client of yours.
Invite “Captain Obvious” to work for the Emerald City Factoring Company. He’s the guy that usually shows up after the disaster struck, and is rich with advice on what you should have done. These are usually “DUH” moments but, in retrospect, they were so obvious and simple that you may have over looked them. Here’s what Captain Obvious has taught us over the years:
- Have your contractor client share the bid file with you. Go over each scope with a fine tooth comb. Ask the contractor to tell you what % gross profit was built into each unique scope. Use common sense to work out where the estimate may be wildly optimistic. Is there enough gross profit in the estimate for them to have “oh crap” room? More importantly, is there enough room in the estimate to cover the costs of your factoring services?
- Ask about the job costing engine that the contractor is using. Are they plugging in the job budget before the job starts, and then recording costs against the original budget? Ask the contractor how long it takes for their AP accounting staff to enter job costs against each job. The costs need to get added to the job cost engine almost immediately after they are incurred.
- Ask to be shown a copy of a recent “over/under” billing report. This report will show whether or not the job is hemorrhaging cash as the job is happening. If the job is over-billed, the contractor is in a strong cash position on the job. If it’s under billed, it means the contractor has spent more on the job than they have yet to bill. Running jobs under billed for too long is probably what brought the contractor to you in the first place, so don’t be surprised to see this – just monitor it so that you know just how bad the situation might be.
- If your contractor’s eyes gloss over when you ask them about job budgets and job costing and over / under billing, then you might have a different sort of problem on your hand. Without these tools in place, the contractor will have a tough time knowing whether or not he’s profitable and whether or not he has the longevity to complete the job. Yes, even with factoring company in place, there’s no avoiding disaster when working with a contractor who doesn’t watch his budgets.
- Get a hard hat and a vest with fashionable fluorescent reflective tape. Travel to the job site at least once a week to make sure progress is being made and to be visible to your client. You’re in luck if you have a pick-up truck and even better if you have a pick-up truck with a diesel fuel tank in the bed. This way you can top off the heavy equipment on the job site so that they’re ready for a full day’s use tomorrow!
- While at the job site, cozy up to the project manager / superintendent that is in charge of your client’s performance. He’s usually the person who will approve or deny the progress billing requests. Be up-front with him and tell him that you’re the “money guy” behind your client. Ask the project manager regularly about progress on the project. Are there dicey issues that you can take up with your client to make the job run smoothly?
- Be the guy that a) brings the donuts and coffee into the planning meetings and b) has a cooler full of sodas and snacks for the laborers. Develop relationships with people on the job. Not only are you looking after your investment, but you’re sure to get “insider” information about the performance of your client. Another added benefit to being on the job site consistently? More clients. As you’re talking with the project manager, it’ll be no secret what you do. I can’t tell you how many clients Emerald City Factors has earned as a result of job-site schmoozing.
- Most of all, be useful on the job site, and then get out of there. Bring lunch to the trades people. Ask your questions. Get invoice approvals. Find out when the city / county inspector is coming to inspect your client’s work (and be there for those inspections!) Do no harm.
- Require that your contractor provide you with weekly job cost reports. Measure the actual job costs against the original job budgets. If you start to see a budget getting to the end of its life, investigate. Find out if there are change orders that you don’t know about. Maybe it’s just job cost entry errors (costs being tagged to the wrong element of the job). Don’t accept your client’s word for it when he tells you “I’m on time and under budget.” Expect that he’s not, and verify with proof in the job cost / budget reports.
Construction Factoring 103: Progress Billing & Retention
The c-c-c-cowardly Lion will tell you that the contractual ability to off-set the cost of defects or repairs against previously approved billings is what prevents him from getting into the construction factoring game. In other words, the Lion is afraid that even after the general contractor approves an invoice, somehow he or she can still legally refuse to pay any or all of the approved invoice. This is typically when retention comes into play. Retention is a process by which the general contractor will hold back usually 10% of a progress payment. This 10% is not paid to the contractor until the end of the job, when all the punch list items are completed, and when the owner is satisfied with the material and workmanship. Think of it as a “reserve” account of sorts.
Be sure you understand that a progress billing invoice may have retention – if so, don’t advance against the full value of the invoice. Gauge your advance based on the invoice amount AFTER retention is taken out. Don’t fund unless and until you get the general contractor to physically sign your approval letter. Put language on your approval letter that says something to the effect of: “Invoice approved without offsets or deductions” and then pray that you don’t ever have to defend that language – a costly adventure in the American Justice System!
Construction Factoring 104: Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Emerald City Factoring Company is located in the Heart of Oz. Let’s say that your construction client’s project is all the way over in Kansas, so there is no chance that you or your wizard staff can visit the job site to protect your investment and market to others on the site. In that case contract with a broker, or a construction manager, to visit the site on your behalf. Get some eyes and ears on the ground at the job site, and be sure to review the budgets and job cost reports on a regular basis. If you want to get really creative, partner up with a bookkeeper who is local to the construction client and job site. Ask that your construction client consider using a chosen bookkeeper who knows how to manage construction job costing and billing. You’ll be singing the praises of Glinda, the Good Bookkeeping Witch of the North before you can say “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
The c-c-c-cowardly Lion gets Courage
It’s always easier to get something done when you have a little bit of experience. Dorothy didn’t get home without taking a few calculated risks. Consider funding a small deal, perhaps a spot factor on a small project will give you some practice but won’t cause you to lose sleep. You can learn the lingo of the contractor (and flatter your client) by asking questions about the business. Or, consider working with non-competing factoring company who does construction and let them teach you the ropes.
Just watch, before long you’ll be chanting in your sleep: “There’s no factoring like construction factoring…”
Steve Ontiveros is the founder and president of The Factoring Place, Inc. a privately held full service factoring brokerage firm specializing in construction factoring deals (including progress billing.) He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510.223.1285
Sometimes you just can’t figure out how to deal with employees. Take Rebecca your receptionist. She’s excellent with clients, knows exactly what calls to put through and when to take a message, dresses professionally, and gets along with everyone in the office. She can juggle answering multiple phone lines while greeting multiple clients with ease, and is great in a crisis.
On the other hand, as far as performing her day-to-day duties, you can’t complain as to accuracy, but let’s just say prioritizing isn’t Rebecca’s strong suit. Take ordering office supplies. Sure, you never have to worry whether or not you’re going to run out of paper clips – but not when Rebecca somehow thinks getting the office supply order into the vendor is more important than the unfinished monthly report sitting on her desk – a report you need for this afternoon’s weekly sales meeting.
You’ve tried giving her positive feedback – you’ve tried giving her negative feedback, both to no avail.
Things aren’t always “either or” as in “either the employee’s behavior merits positive feedback OR the employee’s behavior merits negative feedback.” The world we operate in has a tendency not to be that straightforward – especially when we’re talking about human behavior, even more so when the subject is employee behavior. You may think you’re limited to one or the other of these approaches – but maybe what Rebecca needs isn’t feedback – maybe Rebecca needs feedforward.
Paying it Forward
You might have seen the movie “Pay It Forward” where the premise was that whenever anyone did a good deed for you that you should “pay if forward” to three other people. The idea is put forward by a little boy responding to a school assignment to “Think of an idea that could change the world.”
Now, that’s a pretty tall order – but Dr. Marshall Goldsmith professor of executive education at Dartmouth, prolific author, and well-known management thought leader has an idea that just might change the way small business owners approach managing employees. His idea? Instead of providing employees with feedback he proposes a process he calls feedforward.
Traditionally feedback has been “top down” meaning that a manager (top) provides feedback to an employee (down) regarding their performance. Fortunately the field of management has progressed to acknowledging that, while employees can learn from managers, it is also true that managers can learn from their employees. This has led to better communication between management and employees.
However, Goldsmith points out a fundamental flaw within both approaches: they focus on the past instead of the “infinite opportunities that can happen in the future.” Furthermore, Goldsmith asserts that focusing on the past is “limited and static” whereas focusing on the future can be “expansive and dynamic.”
The notion that feedback should be “balanced” usually means the attempt to find some sort of balance between how many times you provide an employee with negative feedback versus how many times you provide an employee with positive feedback. It certainly doesn’t take a Ph.D. in psychology to realize that too much negative feedback will most likely be de-motivating whereas too much positive feedback certainly isn’t going to improve an employee’s performance outside whatever it is they are already doing well.
This is where Goldsmith’s approach shines. Instead of struggling to come up with some impossible ratio between negative and positive feedback, the focus shifts to making observations about the past within the context of positively changing the future.
A Feedforward Conversation
Feedforward is not some inapplicable academic approach to managing employees at your small business. Feedforward is a process versus a “reprimand” or “compliment” you give an employee. Feedforward is a two-way conversation. Let’s take a look at what that conversation might look like with Rebecca the receptionist:
Small Business Owner: “Rebecca, I’d like to take a few moments to discuss this month’s report with you.”
Rebecca: “Sure.” (Rebecca is thinking: I wonder what I did wrong?)
Small Business Owner: “Before we begin, I want you to know that the goal of this conversation is to focus on how we can better use this report in the future to help our sales team. What we’re talking about here is what you can do to help make that happen, as well as how I might be able to help you as we move forward. I’d like to use this week’s report as an example we can learn from. How does that sound to you?
Rebecca: “Great.” (Rebecca is thinking: This is weird, I think my boss wants my help, not just tell me what to do.”)
Small Business Owner: “OK, so tell me what you think about how things went this week.
Rebecca: “I guess it was so sort of hurried. I almost didn’t get it done in time.”
Small Business Owner: “Why do you think that was?”
Rebecca: “Well, I had to get the office supply order out which meant I had to take inventory and that took a while.”
Small Business Owner: “Making sure everyone has the supplies they need is important. How do you think you could make certain that those two responsibilities don’t come into conflict in the future?”
Rebecca: “Hmmm…maybe I should change the day I do supply ordering to Mondays. Sales meetings are always on Fridays. That would give me three complete days to devote to the report. We could even plan to go over the report on Thursday morning together to make sure there aren’t any problems or errors.”
Small Business Owner: “I think that’s an excellent idea. You definitely got that priority straight. I’d like you to take a look at your duties and provide me with a schedule that allows you to meet your priorities. Let’s meet at ten next Tuesday to do that.”
Rebecca: “OK, but…” (Rebecca is thinking: She wants ME to set priorities?) “Well, what if I don’t prioritize things correctly?”
Small Business Owner: “We’ll work together on that. You know, Rebecca, you’re the one doing the work. You know what happens in the front office. I’d like to get your take first before I make any decisions as to how we want to prioritize your duties. Does that make sense?”
Rebecca: “It does, and I’ll be sure to do my best.”
For Release on MPR: New York, NY – August 8, 2012. Strategic Funding Source, Inc., announced that it has led an investor group in the purchase of the assets of BC Funding, LLC, doing business as – BankCard Funding (BCF), through an Article 363 auction process of the Eastern District of the US Bankruptcy Court in Long Island, NY. Both Strategic and BCF are leading providers of merchant cash advance and alternative finance products to small and mid-sized businesses throughout the United States. The purchase included the entire performing portfolio of merchant cash advance contracts along with all other tangible and intangible assets of the company.
“This purchase is an extremely positive development for the newly restructured BankCard Funding, its merchants, sales partners and creditors.” said Andrew Reiser, CEO of Strategic Funding. “We have a long and profitable relationship with BankCard Funding and look forward to working with Barry Sharf as he positions the company for future growth.” The newly reorganized company will continue to operate independently under the BankCard Funding name with Mr. Sharf directing new business development. Funding and servicing of all merchant advances and investor syndication accounts will be done on the Colonial Funding Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of Strategic Funding.
Mr. Sharf commented that “this is an outstanding opportunity for BankCard Funding to expand its unique business model. There are distinct differences in the market positioning of each company and this alliance permits for broader market penetration, financial stability and improved operational efficiencies. Partnering with Strategic and its Colonial technology platform will allow both companies to compete more effectively in a highly charged market. I am very excited about this new relationship.” BCF will continue to operate from their Syosset, New York offices.
About Strategic Funding Source, Inc. –
Strategic Funding Source, Inc. ( www.sfscapital.com ) is a leading provider of specialty finance solutions in the form of merchant cash advances through credit card receivables purchasing, revenue based financing (RBF-ACH) of bank deposits and commercial loans to thousands of small businesses nationwide. Strategic is recognized as the technology leader in servicing the factoring and loan transactions of over 100 funding companies and investor partners. Established in 2006, Strategic has financed thousands merchants by purchasing more than $325 million of receivables from small and mid-sized businesses. The company maintains its headquarters in New York City and regional offices in Williamsburg, Virginia and Seattle, Washington.
David C. Sederholt, Chief Operating Officer
Strategic Funding Source, Inc.
We all want to be successful small business owners. And that means being a Smart Small Business Owner. Part of being a Smart Small Business Owner (SBO) is understanding the importance of designing and implementing effective after sales strategies.
SBO’s know that it really isn’t about attracting customers. Keeping that pipeline of potential customers flowing is really just a basic cost of doing business. You can be pretty darn successful when it comes to attracting customers. You can be pretty darn successful converting those prospects into making a purchase. But what’s really going to grow your business isn’t only attracting and converting prospects into customers – it’s building strategies into your business model that pull another couple rabbits out of the customer hat: repeat and referral customers.
The term “After Sales Strategies” should not be confused with selling extended service or product subscription programs. Not that these aren’t something to consider as they both represent excellent additional revenue streams. It’s great to sell a customer a jar of face cream – it is even better to sell them a pre-paid jar of face cream for a year. It’s wonderful to conduct a home inspection for a client before they purchase a home – it’s even better to sell them a pre-paid seasonal inspection service.
However, that’s not the kind of “after sales strategies” we’re talking about. What we’re going to address here are a category of after sales strategies that do some pretty important things when it comes to growing your small business:
• Improve Customer Satisfaction
• Improve Customer Retention
• Increase Positive Word of Mouth
It Pays to Act in The Best Interest of Your Customer
But first we need to talk a little bit about exactly what type of “After Sales Strategies” we’re talking about here. Simply put, these are strategies which, from the customer’s perspective, are “freebies.” They’ve already pulled out their wallets and handed over their cash and then receive a pleasant surprise: the business they’ve already handed their money over to does something in their best interest without trying to sell them something else in the process.
Here’s a really simple example of how powerful after sales strategies can be.
You decide to try out a Greek restaurant you’ve never been to before on date night with your spouse. You order your meals and they’re pretty good. No complaints. The server is friendly and attentive. The décor is nice. You’re in the process of signing your check. You’re not overly wowed, but you might come back. Maybe, if you happen to be hungry and in the area at the same time.
And then you get a nice little surprise. Your server approaches your table and places two small cups of Greek coffee accompanied by two small, yet perfect squares of baklava.
You say, “We didn’t order desert, I’ve already signed off on the check.”
Your server says, “Oh, this is just a little treat with our compliments to top off your meal. I can put it in a box if you’re ready to go.”
You don’t even like baklava (but your wife does) and you’re not sure how you’re going to feel about Greek coffee. But there is one thing you’re sure of now – you’ll be coming back. There were those rolled grape things on the menu you’ve always wanted to try. When you show up at work on Monday you tell your friends about the great Greek restaurant you took the wife to over the weekend. Hearing about the free dessert, a few of them ask for directions. On Friday, a group from the office runs over to catch lunch.
That coffee and dessert was a simple, low cost, yet effective, after sales service strategy. As a result you:
• Were more satisfied
• Planned on making another purchase
• Told others about your great experience
All three of the above are certainly responses you’d like from your customers after they’ve bought from you. Which leads us to a great question all you SBO’s out there should be asking yourselves right now:
“What are some simple, low cost, yet effective after sales service strategies I can put into place?”
Article By: Annie
A long time ago, I did what every man has to do at some point in their lives (hopefully only once), plan my own wedding. Once the reception hall was booked, I assumed the job was 90% complete. My wife proved that theory wrong and before I knew it, we found ourselves in a wedding vendor tornado. Which photographer was best?…which florist…which DJ…caterer, limo company, hotels, theme, invitations, and honeymoon? But finding the best was only the beginning. Not everyone was available for our special day, nor was everyone in our price range. Even worse, some of our top choices had reputations for being late or not showing up at all.
It was tough to determine who was genuine and dependable. Some of our phone calls would go unreturned for days and others would hide large fees in their contract that they hoped we wouldn’t find. As a consumer, it was an experience I’ll never forget. I was thankful to have most sales presentations face to face and can only imagine how much more difficult it would’ve been to choose over the phone.
And that’s just it… a very large percentage of financial transactions are conducted over the phone and internet. For the Merchant Cash Advance industry, it’s upwards of 90%. Rate shopping can be done at light speed but the warning signs of a bad vendor are harder to spot. Anyone can tell you what you want to hear, but consumers should use the internet to fill in the blanks.
Researching the company helps but it certainly can’t hurt to check up on your salesman too. Believe it or not, bad people can work for good companies. Inexperienced people can too. The Merchant Cash Advance Resource is offering some advice for business owners. Go on Google, Bing, or Yahoo and search any or all of the following:
- The company’s name
- The company’s name (followed by) reviews
- The 1-800 #
- Your salesman’s direct phone #
- Your salesman’s name
- Your saleman’s name (followed by) the company’s name
- Your salesman’s e-mail address
Some additional sites are:
- The Better Business Bureau (www.BBB.org)
- LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com) Find the professional profile of your salesman and view their experience
Need help interpreting the data? Here are some signs this vendor may not be for you:
The salesman that tells you how much experience they have in the business comes up with this:
Don’t take any of this the wrong way. The Merchant Cash Advance business has been around for a long time. Most firms perform background checks on their employees and provide them with the proper training. Regardless, any transaction that requires the handling of social security information and bank statements should warrant a little due diligence. This advice applies to banks, insurance companies, stock brokers, and investment funds.
My wedding vendors were fantastic and the time spent chasing the best overall deal (reliability, experience, reputation, price) rather than choosing on price alone was worth it. I hope business owners use the same approach when obtaining working capital.
-The Merchant Cash Advance Resource
By: One of our individual contributors