If you’re a sales agent in the payments industry, you know how important it is to retain merchants in your portfolio. After all, you receive income from your merchants through residual payments. If you lose one or more of those income sources, your business will suffer.
Would you like to significantly increase your residuals in 2020? In this post, we will explain how you can help merchants reduce their processing fees while simultaneously increasing your own residuals by over 300%.
Cash Discount vs. Surcharge Program
Popular topics in the payments industry right now are cash discounts and surcharge programs. You may know that EMS currently offers a surcharge program, but do you know why?
A cash discount program allows merchants to offer customers a discount on their transactions when they choose to pay with cash, check, or debit card. The discount amount typically falls within 3 - 4% of the total sale amount.
You may have seen signage for this type of program at your local gas station. Participating stations typically post a per gallon price for credit card customers next to the discounted cash price to encourage customers to step inside and pay with cash. According to Visa, gas stations like these are among the only merchants that “properly utilize a cash discount method”.
While this type of program is legal in all 50 states, major card brands Visa, MasterCard, and Discover have publicly indicated that they want merchants to use a surcharge program over cash discounts. In fact, Visa released a bulletin in 2018 which stated that many cash discount programs are “non-compliant” with their regulations.
Through a surcharge program, merchants charge an additional fee on credit card transactions only, which helps them to offset the fees associated with processing those transactions. While this is the preferred program by major card brands, it is not yet permitted by all 50 states. The states that currently do not allow surcharging are Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma. If a merchant conducts business in multiple states, they can still surcharge, but only in states where it is legal.
When presented with a surcharge program as an option for their business, some merchants may express a fear of upsetting their customers and therefore losing business. However, the industry consensus is that merchants who complete just one month of the program are generally very pleased. The amount of money a merchant can save on their processing fees by surcharging transactions simply outweighs the handful of customers who may balk at the fee.
EMS provides a surcharge program because it benefits our merchants, meets the requirements of card brands, and provides our agents with opportunities to grow their residual income.
EMS Agent Case Study: Significantly Increase Your Residuals
EMS Agents have been finding success through our surcharge program. When you explain the benefits and show the value of the program, it’s an easy sell for small to mid-sized retail stores, restaurants, service businesses, and more.
As we highlighted above, the program allows a merchant to substantially reduce their monthly credit card processing fees, because those fees become the responsibility of the customer. This helps merchants to rapidly increase profitability, which can be especially impactful for smaller businesses.
Once merchants have enrolled in this program and realize the true savings, it’s rare for them to want to switch back to traditional processing. This is great for you because it means you retain more merchants in your portfolio and continue to increase your residuals.
Let’s look at a real-life example.
We examined the portfolio of an EMS Agent who switched 15 of their merchants to a surcharge program in 2019. Before the switch, this agent received $875.20 in residual payments from these accounts. After the switch, their residual payments were $3,823.80, which amounts to a 337% increase in residuals for the agent.
Does that sound too good to be true? We thought so too at first. So, we triple and then quadruple-checked our math.
Here’s how it works. First, the merchant’s fees are raised to a level where you make money. The merchant, however, never is charged these fees because they are paid by the customer. This eliminates the merchant’s costs to accept credit cards, but you still make more money on the surcharge account than you would with a traditional processing account priced at interchange plus.
There’s no doubt about it, our surcharge program is a win-win for you and your merchants.
Plan for Profit in 2020
As we move forward into 2020, take a step back and examine your current portfolio. What opportunities are there for you to grow your business and residuals? Do you have small retail or restaurant merchants who may benefit from implementing a surcharge program? If you haven’t focused on selling this program before, it may be time to prioritize the surcharge program.