by Edie Weinstein
Bob Zimmerman, owner of BKZ Merchant Services, helps Montgomery County small businesses get paid – to navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of secure payment processing and communication services.
“We teach business owners how to use credit card cards to take payment. Being as transparent as we can, we let them know that credit card companies have certain mandated fees. Then we follow it up with great service,” Zimmerman shares with the confident tone that one could only have gained after being in business for over 15 years.
The local landscape is home to dozens of industries that rely on credit card processing- retail, restaurants, medical professionals and e-commerce. They arrive at BKZ with questions prepared, working to unravel the complex modern payment landscape and best apply secure and cost-effective processes at their business. “How do you prepare to take credit cards?” “How do you know what to do if the customer wants a refund and you aren’t in the position to process it?”
Zimmerman explains, “Our sweet spot is dealing with companies that are small and growing, with multiple locations.”
At the heart of a business/provider relationship is mutual respect and trust. With over a decade of experience behind them, BKZ Consulting has years of first-hand experience in identifying successful business strategies, as well as some of the most-common mistakes.
In Zimmerman’s experience, ongoing interaction between a business and its clients relies on “the honesty and integrity that you bring to the table.” He explains that BKZ’s role is to help secure customers for the long-run by providing a backbone to that trusted relationship. And local businesses have been trusting BKZ to be that backbone for over a decade.
“We went into Harleysville Books. The owner at the time, Shelly Plumb, had done her homework about using credit cards. She peppered us with dozens of questions. I answered as straightforwardly as possible. She was trying to vet our knowledge as we were standing in front of her. As a result, we earned her business. What we do well is provide a competitive rate and help customers help themselves.”
BKZ’s expertise can help get local business to the finish line, but it’s still up to them to cross it. Zimmerman has had a front-row seat to watch Montgomery County’s best business owners succeeed, “I see them treat people fairly. Every business owner I’ve seen who is successful has that foundation. Being able to reference other small businesses, as well as vitalizing and growing local community, is how you survive.”
On the flip side, he has also seen local business owners make a few mistakes, “Sometimes, a business owner does not get out and embrace the community, or make themselves known among the local network of other businesses. They don’t say, ‘Let’s help each other.’ They don’t get involved with business associations and chambers of commerce.”
Fortunately, he is often able to help business owners take control of their finances so that can have time to get involved, “I can help merchants understand how they can help themselves. There is a difference in having a debit card come in and a credit card come in. If you don’t know which way is in your best interest, you are missing an opportunity to save a couple bucks.“
That trust is rooted in a healthy attitude that the, “The customer is always right.”
“That’s the nature of business,” Bob explains, “If you are a retail business, that’s the sword you fall on every day. We take a consultative approach, since we know the credit card and payment processing business very well.”
Of course, dissatisfaction is a possibility in any business interaction, so it is essential to respond to complaints in ways that makes customers feel well-cared for so that a local business can maintain a positive reputation.
Zimmerman offers, “Anytime there’s a complaint, there’s an opportunity to improve. People who are upset are providing input since business owners don’t want to hear that they didn’t do something right, but there is an opportunity to step back and listen. You can evaluate what you’re doing and improve the process.”
Now in business for over a decade, BKZ knows that the business landscape is changing all the time so it’s essential for their clients to stay ahead of those changes.
“Educate yourself and have go-to experts to trust. Without them, it is impossible to know everything there is to know. You gotta know what you don’t know and then fall back on the people you can trust. It’s a simple as that.”