Credit Cards NJ CEO Jennifer Glass recounts how she was “paralyzed by fear” with the process of trying to set up a merchant account for herself. Having consulted so many businesses to do so, she couldn’t make a decision. When a friend told her to “pull the trigger and pick one,” she did bringing about what she says was “one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had.”
Fifteen years later, she serves as CEO of a company designed in part to help people avoid those bad experiences.
In 2003, she accepted a vice president position in marketing. After serving two years in that capacity, she founded Credit Cards NJ, a payments processing and marketing company. She has steered that ship for over 12 now. On a good month, the company sees as much as $3 to $4 million dollars go across its books.
The Philosophy of Credit Cards NJ
If the playing field is going to be leveled with the giants who supply credit cards and other ways of getting credit, modestly sized companies like Credit Cards NJ need a strong philosophy to succeed and grow.
“Most business people are not aware of the potential profits that await them,” Glass said adding that she doesn’t let her sales reps out into the field until they understand the industry at least half as well as she does. They have to prove themselves with proposals. That’s important, she said, knowing the kind of trust that’s on the line.
This trust is necessary for a business that applies what Glass refers to as a cradle-to-grave approach. “Our clients are more than numbers. We’ve been there for clients at weddings and funerals, and when they have their babies,” Glass said. “That’s the kind of relationship we form.”
CCNJ and its Place in the Industry
Relying on mentors and industry veterans, as well as the network she brings her customers into, the company serves hundreds of clients from every business type. Among their customers are companies from the medical, legal, non-profit, and e-commerce fields. They also do business with dry cleaners, restaurants, florists, chocolate shops, gift shops, and car dealers. They even work with escort services.
Glass attributes this wide reach in part to CCNJ’s drive to make it as easy as possible for companies to make their businesses grow. If a business needs working capital, CCNJ has cash advances to work against credit card receivables.
Using ACH, Glass said, “We’ll put money in a bank account for the client, which they can access as needed, but which won’t be based on credit card receivables.” The company can also offer a merchant cash advance or a business cash advance to fund working capital.
The company relies on relationships with SBA lenders to help most businesses. Whether a micro-loan of under $25k is needed or a more typical SBA loan, CCNJ can put its clients in touch with the organizations that can make that happen.
Unlike GE Care Credit, which begins charging interest on day one if a payment is missed, CCNJ’s customers can’t miss a payment because the business gets the money up front, or in installments.
Compared to other merchant cash companies, CCNJ offers a greater breadth of solutions. “The way we look at it, if we can help the client get inventory and working capital right now, we can help them get more people in the door to pay off a cash advance and put revenue on the bottom line more quickly,” Glass said.
The approach seems to be working. When the industry standard churn rate averages 20-27 percent, CCNJ’s mark of less than 3 percent has to proof that the company’s approach is working. One key reason for the company’s ability to retain clients is its focus on where it grows or doesn’t grow in terms of processing volume through monthly trends. For that, Glass attributes her ability to see market trends, even before the government says they will be happening, to working across so many industries. This allows her to see how the portfolio is doing across the board, which tells her what to focus on at a specific time.
The total package gives the CEO the confidence to say, “We’re able to have a solution for 98% of legal industries in the U.S., Canada, Israel, and the UK.”
The company’s pricing varies per program. Merchant cash accounts are purely commission-based while marketing solutions depend on the specifics of the program. Other programs are easier to control. Text messaging is a flat rate based on keywords and subscribers in the database, and web development usually costs a 20% margin before the company hands it off to a developer.
CCNJ Going Forward and the Future of the Industry
The CEO said the prospects for the industry to grow in the next few years are good, as MCAs and ACHs continue to interest small businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan. She does, however, see regulations coming at some point, reasoning that, like banks, once you get too big or start charging what is perceived as too much, someone is going to start saying “no.”
Glass said that CCNJ’s main goal right now is to grow more ideal clients in order to have pilot programs to see how things are going. “My goal is to show my clients the value we offer them. Our solutions and breadth of knowledge in the industry is one of the big things.” If businesses aren’t taking Level 2 credit card data, they could be leaving as much as a half a percent on the table. CCNJ’s solutions can help clients get that and more.
To the end of doing whatever it takes to help clients grow, CCNJ has announced the spin-off, CCNJ Marketing.
“Businesses now need an entire marketing campaign, and we place high value on those solutions,” Glass said.
Among the marketing tools at the firm’s disposal will be e-mail blasts, LinkedIn optimization, website development, and other social media tools.
Credit Cards NJ is a company based on the central principles of good business, no stone left unturned, and friendly personal service. They are there for just about any small business owner who needs a payments processing and/or marketing firm, especially those who like the more personal touch and finding a firm they can form a life-long bond with.
Glass does a presentation at the Small Business Development Center every month in Bergen County, NJ. She has been doing these for about two years at the request of the center’s regional director. The presentation covers how to use payments processing to grow a business. She also has a number of informational videos on YouTube.
Written by Paul Keenan.