The education market affords the agent some new, unique opportunities to develop inroads with some businesses that have been resistant to incorporating payment processing throughout their organizations. Traditionally, schools that were supported included public and private institutions with most relationships being maintained by the banks. Things have changed, and continue to improve in the favor of the independent specialist agent. There are three opportunities worth exploring – direct, peripheral, and referral-donation sales:
- Direct education opportunities relate to selling the actual schools, whether they are public or private. Colleges, local school systems, and private schools are included. Also included are technical and community colleges, and the very small businesses that may be local businesses such as stenography schools, medical assistant, etc.
- Peripheral education opportunities touch upon businesses that co-habit the school, and as such have agreements in place that impact whom they may use for their processing needs. A perfect example are bookstores and restaurants found on the campuses of universities, as well as any business whose primary customer is the school.
- Referral – Donation sales is a new category and works like this. Schools and even some non-profits may introduce business relationships to processors that offer to ‘donate’ a portion of the processing fees to the charity or school of the business owners choosing. Thus, a school system seeking additional revenues may introduce businesses in a community to an agent in hopes they will switch processing and receive an ongoing donation fee. This is a relatively new avenue, but may open a significant market opportunity for an entrepreneurial agent.
Some relationships may be very large, with processing changes heavily reviewed requiring the agent to undertake an RFP – which stands for ‘Request for Proposal’ process. Such relationships are also highly prized and have a significantly long sales process – sometimes years. The rewards, however, may be quite lucrative. Ask your processor to elaborate on the RFP process.
Also, becoming the ‘preferred merchant services provider’ for such an organization could be a tremendous boon to your business model when trying to generate local interest and loyalty.
Do not invest significant time or energy on the larger institutions as these are often considered national accounts. The only exception may be when you have a significant advantage that will bring you to the top decision makers. There are hundreds to thousands of opportunities in this vertical market, yet once you open up peripheral and referral – donation sales opportunities, the opportunity escalates drastically.
Also, remember the quantity of local education opportunities that exist in every market.
Knowledge and a significantly developed marketing presence based upon concerns of the insured is a tremendous value. Additionally, joining associations that support the financial institution in question is a very good idea.