Merchant Payment Services for Furniture Associations

Midwest_Furniture_Show_FlierMy father and his experience from the years he owned a furniture store have had a great influence upon me. I applied the principles that he taught me when I founded Cornerstone Business Solutions, a merchant payment provider.  Initially, when we opened in March of 2000, we provided essentially one main service, merchant services, to all local businesses.  Over the years, we’ve added other merchant payment services such as electronic check guarantee/conversion, gift and loyalty card and our very popular merchant cash advance programs.  Also technology and word of mouth advertising now has us servicing customers nationwide.

Through all of these changes, I haven’t forgotten the furniture industry that is a part of my heritage.  When I opened my doors to my business, there was a furniture store literally across the street and they became one of my very first customers.  I had no idea that the owner, David Namoff would end up becoming such a close friend.  First, I shared an affinity for him, as his dad was in the furniture business, just like mine.  I saw in him what my life might have been and I admired him for that.  Over the years I’ve come to appreciate what a generous, gregarious, kind and honest person he is as well as a visionary marketing and business man.

Rooms Direct exteriorDave has also been a loyal customer through the years and I give him credit for helping me to design programs that best meet the needs of others in the furniture business.  I’ll admit that there were some trials and errors over the years, but I always did my best and learned from the experiences.  I count Rooms Direct as one of my favorite customers because of this relationship.  I also enjoy spending time with his great staff, Scott, Glenn, Kerry and Tommy and others.  Last black Friday I even had the opportunity to work side by side with them while helping Rooms Direct/Beds Direct promote their loyalty program.

With the input from Rooms Direct and many other local clients in the furniture and mattress sales, I was able to design a targeted Payment Value Program to help out these businesses nationwide.  I just needed a way to reach out and share my message with these retailers.

I know merchant services programs are competitive for large retailers and they are besieged by companies and representatives all offering “The Lowest Rate Guaranteed!”  (And yes, I offer that too, just like all the rest.  If you understand interchange rates, you realize it’s all a marketing ploy.)  What I haven’t seen by other bank card companies is an entire value program that starts with understanding the specific service needs and includes the programs specifically needed for growth and efficiency.  That’s part of the value that I bring.  Beyond that, it’s important for me to start a relationship by giving something, not selling anything.  This is where it’s my goal to educate first and help these businesses become aware of issues in the payment industry that affect them.

One prime example of this is the $7.25 Billion Visa/Mastercard Settlement.  It strikes me as a derelict of duty that most furniture stores aren’t being informed of this by their current merchant services provider, or anyone for that matter!  This is an easy payout of five figures for many furniture retailers, but not if they don’t know about it and register!  This is just one message I want to share.

I knew I needed the help of a professional to show me how to develop relationships in the industry.  For the price of a lunch, my friend Scott Short, manager at Rooms Direct, Beds Direct and Rooms Direct Outlet shared some of what he’s learned from his 25 years experience.  He directed me to get involved in the IHFRA and the North American Home Furnishings Association (NAHFA).  He even made some introduction calls for me and helped Cornerstone get an exhibit booth at the 7th annual Midwest Furniture Show!

Special considerations were made by two key individuals to get me a booth at the last minute.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Ted Weisbach, Midwest Furniture Club (MFC) president and Geoff Weed, show coordinator. I consider the show a huge success in that it was a wonderful experience in getting to meet furniture retailers as well as dealer representatives.  I also had the opportunity to speak with representatives Jana Sutherland of the NAHFA and Jennifer Sova of the IHFRA.  Both are deeply committed to providing as much value as possible to their members and we discussed how I might provide value to the organization.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to being a resource for them that can help to inform and assist their furniture retailers with specialized payment services and business cash advance programs.

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