Only in Louisville:
Louisvillians love shopping local, and we have the statements to prove it. But what happens when you swipe your card instead of paying cash? Bottom line: It isn’t necessarily helping your corner shop as much as it could, because unbeknownst to its customers, the business may be overpaying fees to the various parties that make that paperless transaction possible.
Wimsett & Company is seeking to change that. By helping small and medium-sized businesses keep credit card processing costs down, they help more money stay in the community—and out of the hands of the credit card processing companies.
According to Ashley Wimsett, director of marketing, the businesses’ troubles often start the day they sign a contract allowing them to accept plastic. “The industry has become like the cable companies,” says Wimsett. “They’ll come in and offer a low rate and increase that rate over time, but businesses sign contracts that have such intricate details that they can’t get out of them.” Pitfalls include leasing of a terminal (about $40 or more per month for three to five years vs. $250 for a one-time purchase), increasing rates and, most frustrating, billing errors. “We work with businesses to help negotiate the best rate, terms and conditions, and we do audits quarterly to look for errors and make sure the rates aren’t increased.”
In 2012, Tom Wimsett, Ashley’s father, founded the company that bears their name. Over a three-decade career in credit card processing, he occupied a front-row seat to the goings-on in the credit industry—and he didn’t like where things were headed. At 50, with several successful companies behind him, he decided to become a consultant helping small and medium-sized businesses negotiate the best deals with the right core processing companies.
“All the various stakeholders get a percentage of each transaction,” Ashley Wimsett explains. “The issuing bank gets a percentage, the network gets a percentage, the core processor gets a percentage, and then the credit card processing company gets a percentage. It’s all jumbled together, which causes confusion, and allows the credit card processing company to bump up these fees.”
The fees Wimsett & Company charges its clients—which range from local entities to national restaurant franchisees to gas stations and coffee shops out of state—mitigate this shock, with clients typically paying $300 to $500 annually. Wimsett proudly notes that they provide full disclosure of all fees and savings up front, so if there are no discernible savings, there will be no pressure on a potential client to come aboard.
“Often we help clients renegotiate with their existing provider,” she says. “Since we intimately understand the business and fee structure, we can usually deliver significant savings. Additionally, we work as an advocate for business owners. We have an excellent renewal rate; [clients] see the benefit—and we’re different than any other company in the industry.” Wimsett notes that while other consultants offer negotiation, none offers value-added services such as audits—and none is in Louisville.
As a member of a seven-person company, Wimsett didn’t always aspire to go into this business. She received an entrepreneurial MBA from UofL, but after researching various business models she discovered that the one that shared her values was the one she’d seen being built her entire life. “The credit card processing industry never really appealed to me, but [our] model is so different, and it’s consulting. I enjoy helping people, helping businesses, helping them to decrease the unnecessary costs so they can grow. … I can see the potential of our company and I’m working hard to help grow it.”
Wimsett lives in eastern Louisville but has affection for the whole area. “I grew up in Bardstown,” she says. “I always thought it was such a small town, but I was lucky to grow up in such a lovely place and now I’m blessed to be living in the thriving and growing city of Louisville.”