Thursday, March 31, 2011

Money Saving Trick: Knowledge is Power

We hear about it all the time…“A credit card processor walked in my door offering the lowest possible rate, but I was charged fees that we never even discussed!”  Or “They told me that I needed a new terminal because I was non-compliant!”  Or “I didn’t even realize I was signing a Merchant Agreement!”

Unfortunately, we hear these scenarios from merchants across the country every day.  But here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to happen to you!  Learning what to look for and knowing the right questions to ask will help you avoid falling into a merchant processing trap and empower you to make the best decision for your business when it comes to credit card processing.

The Trap: A Free Terminal
The Truth: Many door-to-door merchant services salesmen use the hook of a new terminal for free to convince you to sign with them.  Keep an eye out for a monthly supplies fee, a higher rate or other unnecessary fees the processor may charge to make up for it.  The truth is profit margins are so thin for most credit card processing companies that they simply can’t afford to give away a $300 to $600 piece of equipment.

Helpful Hints:
Ask for a full list of the fees that you will be charged and make sure you understand the purpose of each.        

The Trap: An Affordable Lease on a New Terminal
The Truth: Many businesses who have never accepted credit cards are fearful of the cost involved to get started and a lease sounds like a great idea.  Here’s the problem: if you are paying a $30/month lease for 24 months, you will have paid $720 by the end of a lease and may not even own the equipment.  That’s more than the cost of some wireless terminals!

Helpful Hints: Ask for a comparison of the purchase price and the lease prices.  If the purchase price is a little more than you can handle, ask if it can be split up into a few payments and  you will get a much better deal in the end. 

The Trap: A Really, Really Low Rate
The Truth: This may be the most commonly used tactic in merchant processing sales, but the rate isn’t the only price you pay, not and all transactions are created equal.  In addition to your rate, you may also have transaction fees, authorization fees, AVS and CVV fees, batch fees, annual fees, monthly minimum fees, statement fees, customer service fees and more.  Every merchant account will involve some of these, but make sure you understand what they are and how much you will be charged.

Now for the truth on rates: the pricing structure for a swipe retail business will be very different from a key entered business in terms of pricing as a result of the risk associated with the type of transaction.  The farther you get from swiping the card and getting a signature, the more it will cost you.  A standard pricing schedule should include the following rates from lowest to highest: Qualified Debit, Qualified Credit, Mid-Qualified and Non-Qualified.  In some cases, a Rewards rate may also be available, but if not, rewards based cards will fall into the Mid or Non-Qualified categories.

Helpful Hints: If you ask if the rate is debit or credit, swiped or key entered, you may be surprised at the reaction you get.  Most door-to-door merchant processors don’t expect business owners to know enough to ask this question.  Make sure to get a copy of the full pricing schedule, including the categories above, before assuming that the low rate is true.

The Trap: You Need a New Terminal
The Truth: You probably don’t need a new terminal.  As long as your terminal is PCI Pin Entry Data (PED) compliant and is not proprietary, you should be OK. Your payment processor will have a list of all PCI PED compliant terminals.  If your terminal is compliant, most processors will be able to reprogram it for a low fee instead of requiring you to purchase a new one. 

Helpful Hints: There are only a handful of terminals that are no longer supported by their manufacturers, so you definitely need to do your research before throwing your terminal out and purchasing a new one for this reason.

In addition to watching out for these traps, you should also ask the following of processor you consider:

  • What will my overall savings be over my current processor, not just the rate?
  • What is the term of the Merchant Agreement?  Is there an early termination fee?
  • What type of account will I be set up with, retail or key-entered?
  • What per item fees will I pay?
  • What annual fees will I pay?
  • What monthly fees will I pay?
  • How long will it take before I can see the money in my bank account?
  • What is the availability of customer and technical support?
  • How long have you been in business?  Can I have the names of a few current customers to call for feedback?
  • Do I have the complete terms and conditions?
  • How can I reach you if I have any questions?
  • Can I have everything in writing to review before I sign anything?
It is no secret that the credit card processing industry is complicated and is a mystery to many business owners.  As a result, many credit card processing companies can be vague, sneaky and sometimes downright misleading when it comes to signing new accounts.  Next time a merchant processor approaches your business, avoid the above traps, ask the right questions and remember…if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Work with a Provider NGA and WDDA Members Trust

Electronic Data Payment Systems (EDPS) has been providing fair pricing, important educational material and excellent service to NGA members since 2008 and to WDDA members since 2010.  In addition to full disclosure of all rates and fees, a comprehensive training session is provided before you begin accepting cards to insure the lowest processing rates. All members are also entitled to receive a complimentary savings analysis illustrating the savings available through this exclusive program.  Fax your statement to 866.528.3854 and a National Enrollment Specialist will contact you with the results.  To learn more about the NGA and WDDA member credit card processing program and other services available call 866.578.9740 or visit EDPS online at or

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ideal Way to Establish Goals

I’ve shared with you that annual company goals must be specific, measurable and focused, but that’s only part of the goal setting process. Annual goes can be established by the owner or president of a company, the management team, or a management consultant.  

What is the ideal way to establish company goals? By involving a number of management and employees at the start of each year, the goals will become the employee goals instead of management goals.

I’ve facilitated this goal setting process with clients. In these sessions, management states what is important and employees comment and contribute. Ultimately the goals are accepted by everyone involved. This team approach to goal setting has a bias for results, generates buy-in and commitment from all employees, and is often the most significant companyw ide change that can be implemented by any company.

This goal setting process really works!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Outbound Sales Courses!

The NGA, WDDA, and Contactpoint have launched 4 new Customer Service Courses on! These new audio courses cover Outbound Sales techniques, including what it takes to create value in every outbound call, how to get people talking, how to build a relationship while gathering information, asking for the business and creating a warm lead, and more. These courses complement the 5 courses launched by Contactpoint in 2009.
The complete collection of 11 customer services courses is available on for $110.00 per person. If you purchase these courses by April 15, 2011, you will pay just $77.00 for all Customer Service courses or just $28.00 for Outbound Sales courses. NGA Members who add these courses to an active subscription pay just $25.00.*
To get started, visit to create an account. Click here to buy these exciting new Customer Service courses brought to you by ConactPoint.
For a description of the services ContactPoint offers NGA and WDDA members, visit,, or call 866-468-0900 to speak with a consultant.

*$25.00 includes all 11 Customer Service courses. If you have an active account with an active Customer Service bundle, these courses have already been added to your account at no additional cost to you. They will be available until your bundle expires.

Monday, March 21, 2011

“Social Media Change” Is Superfluous

I’m regularly sent articles announcing new Social Media changes and I’m beginning to think that the very use of the words Social Media Change is superfluous.  Like any redundant expression: absolutely essential, join together or unexpected surprise, Social Media Change is redundant.  Social Media is synonymous with change.  It’s always changing and it changes everything. There is no other way to think about it.

So how do we engage with something that is forever changing?  How do you step onto a moving walkway for the first time? You watch, wait, experiment, try it and learn what works or not.  It’s the same approach with Social Media only I wouldn’t advise waiting too long.

Social Media is something you need to experience to understand how it works.  I recommend experimenting first with the media and channel that feels most comfortable to you. A good place to start is by studying The CMO’s Guide To The Social Media Landscape at  If you’re unfamiliar with CMO, it is a informational website sponsored by Adobe aimed at Chief Marketing Officers. 

The beauty of their guide is how it identifies the most important considerations you need to make when evaluating the right social media sites to use.  The guide looks at four key attributes: 1) customer communications, 2) brand exposure, 3) Traffic to your site and 4) SEO (Search Engine Optimization capability) for the nine most used sites for 2011.  In addition, it ranks each site on how effectively it delivers the four key attributes. There is also a PDF version of this useful guide that you can download from the site.

It is absolutely essential, at the risk of sounding superfluous, that you that you make it a top priority to educate yourself and experiment with Social Media while it’s still a moving walkway so you’ll be ready for the speedramps.

Sharon Aby
Beyond Ideas

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News & Links for March

Here's what NGA and WDDA members (and the industry) should know this month.
  1. Webinar March 29 at 2:00 pm ET: IGMA Sealants with Michael Speicher of ADCO. NGA and IGMA members get 50% off the registration fee. Register today!
  2. GTS Services, Carson & Coil sponsor the 2011 Glazing Executives Forum. View the agenda and mark your calendars for this September 12, 2011 event.
  3. UPS Freight and Infinity from Marvin sponsor the 2011 Window & Door Dealers Forum.  View the agenda and mark your calendars for this September 13, 2011 event.
  4. DOE's High Performance Windows Volume Purchase Program gears up for expansion with series of events.
  5. Sale! Members get $10 off the 2010 Guide to the Glass and Glazing Requirements of the Model Building Codes in March.
  6. See the WDDA's Dealer Perspective in Window & Door: Waiting for the Other Shoe
    to Drop.
  7. NGA Local Chapters and Dual Membership - become involved on both a national and local level.
  8. GlassBuild America has updated the 2011 Schedule at a Glance. Join us September 12-14 in Atlanta!
  9. Recovery is Coming, But Patience Required.
  10. Window & Door’s 2011 Dealers of the Year Nominations are due by June 1, 2011.
  11. One Year Later: Lead Paint, the EPA, and Where Things Stand. Buy the recording for just $25.00
  12. The Top 100 Manufacturers of 2011: This year's rankings suggest more optimism for growth ahead.
  13. Size, safety and sustainability. Today’s storefront framing systems offer options to meet evolving aesthetic, security and environmental demands.
What news did you think was most important in March? Share it in the comments!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Become a Part of Industry Networking and Education

I've talked about networking opportunities with the NGA and WDDA on this blog before - Good Old-Fashioned Networking - but it's a topic we can't talk about enough.  Networking is an important and easy way for you to interact with potentional vendors, future customers, and industry peers.
Every year, the NGA hosts GlassBuild America: the Glass Window & Door Expo - it's being held September 12-14, 2011 at the World Congress Center in Atlanta.  The NGA and WDDA are hosting several educational and networking opportunities at this year's event:
Mark your calendars today and plan on joining us for these annual events - so that you can meet, network with, and learn from the leaders in the glass and window & door industries. Are interested in meeting with glaziers and window and door dealers because they are your customers? If so, several sponsorship opportunities are still available for the forums.  
We can't wait to see you in Atlanta!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tone Up with ContactPoint

There is nothing you have been doing longer in your life than communicating with others.  From your very first moments in this world you began communicating how you feel, and what you want.  As you matured, you began to communicate your thoughts, intention, and meaning.  You also began learning how to receive communication, and understand others.  Of course, this is generally a good thing.  Communication is critical to the quality of our relationships with others.  However, it is precisely because we have been doing it so long that it is harder to change than almost anything else.

When we are communicating with someone in person, there are three elements that comprise that communication: (1) Body Language, (2) Tone, and (3) Words.  You might think that what you say is pretty important, but the truth is “how” you say it matters significantly more.  In person, our communication is comprised of 55% Body Language (facial expression, posture, body position, gestures), 38% Tone (voice inflection, character, volume, and quality), and 7% Words (the actual words we say).  When we are on the phone, the game completely changes; even though the stakes may be the same in terms of the importance of the communication.  Once body language is no longer part of the equation the importance of your words doubles to 14%, which is still not a significant percentage compared to the whopping 86% which will come from your tone.
Your tone of voice can literally convey a smile, warmth, friendliness, confidence, and professionalism.  It can just as easily convey impatience, irritation, distraction, condescension, and apathy.  It is important to keep the end in mind every time you pick up the phone.  What do you want the caller’s experience with you to be?  What do you want them to feel?  What do you want their impression of you and your company to be?  If you truly care about their experience, be “on purpose” with your tone of voice.  Smile, and let that smile shine through on the phone.  Remember, people do business with people they like.
Kip Kint
ContactPoint Solutions NGA WDDA

Monday, March 7, 2011

NGA Local Chapters and Dual Membership

It is more important than ever for companies in the glass industry to be unified and work toward what is the best interest of the industry and our customers, employees and stakeholders.   We want to ensure that glass companies receive the best representation and information available - and that you receive the best of both local and national membership: training, seminars, networking, conventions, and much more.
The NGA provides the very best industry education, as well as promotes quality workmanship, ethics, and safety in the architectural glass industry.   If your company is a member of one of the NGA's Affiliated State Chapters, you qualify for discounts on NGA products, including education, training, and certification. You can be a member of a chapter without being a member of the NGA.  Find your local chapter and become involved today.
If your company has dual membership, you qualify for all NGA membership benefits, including discounts on shipping, office supplies, health insurance, and consulting services.  By joining the NGA, you will be listed in the NGA Membership Directory and on and gain access to NGA Cost-Cutting Member Services, including discounts on shipping, insurance, bankcard processing, and consulting.

What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dealer of the Year Nominations due June 1

Every year, Window & Door recognizes the Dealers of the Year.   According to the Window & Door website:
"This annual program recognizes today’s leaders within the industry's channels of distribution. Our winners represent the best in sales, marketing, delivery, service and installation and more."
If you are a dealer or distributor of windows, doors and/or other fenestration products  and you think  you should be considered for the 6th Annual Dealers of the Year program, complete the nomination process. You may nominate one of your customers, your own company, or any company that deserves the recognition. View the 2010 Dealers of the Year for examples of what has been recognized in the past.

Visit the Dealer of the Year website or click here to download nomination forms and instructions for the 2011 Dealers of the Year.

If you have questions or require more information, contact Window & Door at 
The deadline for nominations is June 1, 2011, so send in your nomination soon!