Valley Market Makes Business-Saving Move

COLORADO CITY, Colo. -- For large convenience store chains with thousands of locations, a $1,000 monthly savings is merely a drop in the bucket. For single-store owners such as Scott Swartwood, owner and operator of Valley Market, a convenience store and gas station in Colorado City, this money represents the difference between staying open and permanently closing the business.

Not long ago, Swartwood and his store faced an uncertain future. After undergoing medical surgery, he was forced to hire an employee to run the business. Unfortunately, paying that employee, combined with high credit-card processing fees, created a tipping point for Valley Market.

"We were really at the point where we weren't sure we were going to make it," he recalled.

Realizing that reducing his processing costs associated with credit and debit card transactions could be the key to keeping his business open, Swartwood last year turned to Denver-based Incom Direct, a national broker and specialized provider of credit-card transaction services, for assistance.

Incom Direct serves as the licensing delineation within Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. "We're the ones that go and meet with the merchants, negotiate what they are going to pay and implement the systems," Janet Sanders, president and CEO of Incom Direct, told CSNews Online.

While all merchants must pay the same interchange fees, Incom Direct charges a flat fee beyond that for credit-card processing. "We give [merchants] a legitimate [fee] they can build back into their products and services based on real costs, not some made-up percentage point they're never going to see," Sanders explained. "The first thing we do is help them protect their business."

Swartwood, who sells unbranded fuel at his location, was recommended to Incom Direct by his fuel supplier and fellow member of the Colorado-Wyoming Petroleum Marketing Association.

"It's a scary thing to find a credit-card processor," said Swartwood, who also serves as a minister and pilot. "My fuel supplier was pleased with Incom, so I decided to give it a shot."

In the past year of working with the company, Valley Market has seen a 25-percent reduction in its in-store billing costs, which equates to about $1,000 per month in savings.

"This savings we now have from credit-card processing could very well be the difference between us making it [vs.] closing up and going home," Swartwood concluded. 

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