03/05/2013

6 Steps to Find the Best MSP or Processor for Your Business

Shift4’s neutrality gives our merchant customers the ability to change banks and processors whenever business needs dictate.
What does that mean in plain English? Well, it means that you always have options. It means that your processor can’t keep increasing your rates without risking losing you as a customer. It also means that if you want to implement a new technology, you can – even if your current processor refuses to support it. It means that these huge organizations now have to compete to keep your business. It’s a unique advantage you have as a Shift4 merchant customer.

So, what do you do when you feel that your Merchant Services Provider (MSP) or processor is no longer treating you fairly? You find a new one.

Here are a few things to look for as you make your decision:

1. Make your life easier by visiting our Integrations page to confirm that you only consider options with current certifications to Shift4.
2. Use the information on the Integrations page to narrow down your list to only those processors that work with your merchant type and support all of the features you want (gift cards, debit, EMV, etc.).
3. If you have to change your MSP (and you likely will if you really want to see a major change), be sure to shop around.

  • Often the best way to find a new MSP is to ask for referrals. Who do you trust? Do you have working relationships with anyone in a similar business or market? Don’t be afraid to reach out to industry acquaintances (even competitors) and ask if they’ve had good experiences with their MSP. Other merchants often know the pain of trying to find an MSP who is on the up and up, and they may be willing to share their experience with you. You never know who might know just the right person for your business.
  •  Ask about costs. Contact the processors on your short list and ask about setup fees, per-transaction fees, and any other monthly fees.
  • If you accept PIN debit, make sure your current devices will be supported and ask about key injection. How will it work? What will it cost? Are they willing to cover that cost? (They should be.)
  • Some MSPs are locked in to deals with particular processors, but don’t be afraid to push them into looking at the options that are best for you.
4. Again, as when choosing a processor, information is your friend. Ask questions.

  • Ask about their fee structure.
  •  Find out how many steps there are between a fully-qualified transaction and a non-qualified transaction. This will give you a hint as to how aggressive they are with their downgrades. If there is only one step, a simple mistake might double or triple your effective rate; whereas if there are four or five steps, a simple mistake would only result in a small downgrade.
  •  Ask what their PIN debit rates are and how they compare to signature debit rates.
5. The merchant services industry is cutthroat. Accept this fact and use it to your advantage.

  •  Don’t be afraid to negotiate the best available rate. Haggle with them on their base rate, get contract amendments to reduce fees you feel are too high, and have them pay any contract termination or change fees that you may face in the switch from your existing solution (they will almost always cover our $75 change fee, as well).
  •  Don’t pay for devices. If your move to a new MSP requires new devices (or even if you are just upgrading), have the MSP pay for the new devices. Remind them that it’s a small price to pay for them to land the deal. (Think about the math. On a recent deal we reviewed, the MSP bought 1,000 devices at $375 each, spending $375,000. In the first year he earned a little over $4 million on the contract – that’s a move any wise MSP would gladly make. The concept is the same on a small deal where the MSP buys one device and makes $4,000 in the first year.)

6. Beware of “great deals.”

  • As with any important decision, use common sense. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t fall for a sales pitch that promises you unbelievably low rates, because it won’t be long before those rates begin to climb skyward and you end up looking for a new MSP all over again.

Changing your MSP or your processor requires some research and planning on your part, but we do everything we can to make the actual switch as simple as possible. Contact myaccount@shift4.com, let us know what you’d like us to accomplish, and we’ll take care of the rest. And, once we get your new Merchant IDs (MIDs) in place, it’s remarkable how fast the process works. So don’t stick around with a bad MSP or processor. Remember that with Shift4, you hold all the power and you can make them compete for your business. That’s the beauty of neutrality!