Total Merchants, Merchant Account Reviews, Credit Card Processing Companies

How to Dress for Success in Property Sales

July 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Real estate professionals must dress for success every day because it’s often impossible to know what a work day will entail. It’s important for the sales agent to dress comfortably and professionally. Dressing in an uncomfortable suit or shoes for the day won’t help the sales agent to shine: he or she will be thinking about shoes that don’t fit or the suit that’s too tight!

Power Dressing?

Unlike some professions, the realty professional should cultivate a relaxed but pulled-together or coordinated appearance. Wearing a three-piece suit won’t put buyers or sellers at ease. Because the agent is likely to have many friends and acquaintances in the local market, it’s best to dress in the same relative manner at work or play. Nicely tailored casual clothing that doesn’t require dry cleaning is a good choice for this career.

It also helps to have professional headshots taken by an outside photography studio.

Too Casual?

Similarly, the sales agent who wears torn jeans or shows back tattoos at work is likely to turn off potential customers. Men and women should avoid open-toed shoes, such as flip-flops, and buy constructed and polished slip-ons.


The professional sales agent is ready to meet a prospective client or referral at any time. Since it’s impossible to predict when these interactions will occur throughout the course of the work day or weekend, the realty agent is dressed for interpersonal success every day.

Injuries That Occur On The Playground

January 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

For years, the playground of a school, park, or community center has been a haven for children of all ages. It is the place where they can get outdoors, get some exercise, socialize with other children, and have fun. Playground equipment today is safer than ever before. With advanced technology it is made in materials that are designed to keep your kids safe. Unfortunately, playground equipment and playing is not foolproof. Accidents can happen and sometimes it is the adults that are at fault. A playground is a place where serious injuries can take place if you are not overly cautious.

Every year thousands of children are injured on playgrounds. Some minor, and occasionally some are even very serious. There are a number of reasons that this can happen. The first is that kids are just kids. Which means no matter how much you reprimand them they will still roughhouse and break the rules. It is also common in some parks to see older, faulty equipment that is not maintained on a regular basis. This is also a cause of many accidents. There is really only one way that you can prevent accidents, and that is with adequate adult supervision.

With adequate adult supervision, you may be able to prevent some of these accident from happening. It is important that adults closely supervise their own children at outdoor playground sets so that you are certain they are following the rules. A school playground should always have teachers or supervisors on site during recess and after-school hours. With close supervision, you will be able to enforce rules and reprimand children that are not following them. You can easily watch out for things like roughhousing on or near equipment, or keeping older children away from the younger ones. Young children lack the understanding to keep themselves safe from rougher older kids.

If you are supervising the schoolyard, or your own child at the neighborhood park, be prepared for injuries. Parents should always have a first-aid kit handy, and understand the basics of first-aid. Many times, you will simply see cuts, bruises, and scrapes, which are easy to handle. Other times, you may see something more serious like concussions, broken arms or legs, and even dislocations. If there is an accident under your supervision that is serious, you should always call 911 immediately.

The playground is a wonderful place for your child to get some exercise and have fun. It can always be a wonderful way for them to learn motor and social skills. Just remember the number one priority is that they are always safe.

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Mobile Apps Can Really Improve Your Business

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In this day and age, people are always on the move, and in order to make the most of your marketing, you need to have all of your bases covered. That means that not only do you need to have your website updated regularly with news and relevant product information to keep your clients invested, but that also means that you need to be able to reach out the them wherever they are, even if that are away from their computers.

By taking advantage of mobile apps, you can make sure that your product or service is still within reach of your clients, and show them that you are catering to their needs by understanding their lifestyle. By gearing your business toward mobile users, you are ensuring that whenever your company crosses their mind, you are available, and in a format that they can easily navigate, wherever they may be.

In order to make sure that your app performs up to your highest expectations, there are some necessary steps that you must take to test the software and make sure it can handle everything you throw at it. By initiating a series of performance test runs, you can ensure that your site continues to run at maximum efficiency, regardless of bandwidth issues or any other hindrances.

You also want to make sure the app is easy to use, and by conducting these tests, you can identify problems with the user interface, such as display issues, or the accessibility of user input. If the user is having to spend a an excess amount of time typing their information in, or inputting their goal into the search bar, that may prove to be tedious on certain devices and deter them from using the app.

By periodic mobile app testing, you can keep up to date on any potential issues, as well as updating current information and addressing any problems that may occur. App maintenance is an ongoing commitment, but don’t think of it as a hassle. Instead, consider it a measure to ensure quality control and a means to always be on top of what your users are experiencing, while at the same time, giving you a better understanding of how to better service their needs and further your development of the app as well.

It may seem like a lot of work, but for the sake of your business, it is just as important as any other marketing strategies you may already be incorporating. Always remember that in order to keep your customers’ interest, you must always be striving to improve upon your business model, and by integrating a mobile app into your selling and marketing strategies, not only does it show that you can grow and adapt with digital trends, but it also shows your willingness to invest in your customers, and that you will do whatever it takes to provide them an easier, more user friendly experience.

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Interior Design: Wall Decorations

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Rule number one of home decoration: confidence. Confidence says you’re not afraid to mix and match colors, and you’re willing to take a risk on odd furniture most people would normally be too afraid to buy. Even decorating something as simple as a wall requires confidence.

All wall decorations are set at eye level to allow a person the chance to spot them quickly. These items can be as small as a mirror to as large as a portrait. Whether small or large, not all decorations are designed to coordinate alongside other items. It is up to the person decorating to determine whether the item will function as intended. If you’re feeling a bit scared of how to decorate your home, here are some confidence boosting tips to help you along.


Art comes in a variety of different forms from small sculptures, portraits to even ornaments. Art should be hung in such a way that guests can locate the item instantly. Do not place the item too high or too low, as this will create an awkward, un-centered image. Each piece of art will determine where exactly to place it once inside the room.

Art serves as a centerpiece for any wall. The art attracts attention, and often times, you can find complementing objects, such as wall mirrors to draw attention to the artwork. Items that do not complement the art should not be placed near it, such as a family portrait or an ornament.


Pictures are great decoration items that add character to a wall. Small family photos, personal achievements or pictures of nature give the room color and character. However, too much color for any wall can be a bad thing, and too many photos can ruin a wall entirely. Spread your family photos out so they are not so close together. What you don’t want are too many frames on one wall. Too many photos near one another make it hard to focus on just one. You want to spread the color across the room, allowing each photo a set location to draw a guest’s attention.


As with pictures and artwork, mirrors also function as wall decorations that can add style to the room. Whether you decide to hang square or round wall mirrors, each class of mirror will add creativity and style to the room. Before you hang anything, you’ll want to look at the size of the room and the space you are willing to commit to a mirror. Some mirrors maybe too big for the room, or you may have other items on the wall that can detract from the decoration of the mirror. You want to commit an entire wall to one mirror if it’s large enough. If you plan on hanging a small mirror, you can often get away with hanging multiple items on the wall; however, just be careful to not cluster the mirror around with other ornaments.

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Company Executives Fly Private, Not Commercial

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Long lines, annoying passengers and even long commute times. Business men and women know all too well the hassles of flying commercial. Commercial flights are prone to long delays; subject its passengers to intense security screenings; and can cause mishaps in your business schedule. For company execs especially, flying from one part of the state to another can be a hassle, especially when traveling through a large airport. Executives handle the company’s bigger issues and execs need a reliable form of transportation to accommodate the demands of their job. Flying commercial just doesn’t cut it for an executive to perform his duties effectively with minimal interruptions.

Flying Commercial vs. Private

If you have ever flown commercial, you understand the headaches you will face. Private jets allow for more freedom and flexibility that normal commercial flights cannot provide. For instance, most commercial flights no longer provide food on flights, with the exception of flights lasting longer than six hours. Now think about that, you may pay as little as $200 to as much as $2,000 for a round trip and all you get is a free bag of peanuts and two, microwave meals. Not much of an in-flight dinner. With a private jet charter you have the freedom to order the meals you want, and get them specially prepared for you.

Food may not be a big issue, but the travel schedule is. Commercial flights require you to arrive at least 3 hours before so that you may pass through security, unload your bags and board the plane. When you fly private, you can skip the long security checkpoints, forget about the 3 hour wait time, and arrive when you want. Even if you must stay an additional day or two because of a meeting, you can do so. Private jets accommodate your needs and wait for you until you are ready to leave. Private jets offer flexibility that no commercial flight can mimic.

Commute times from your home to the airport may also be long. In addition to the 3 hour wait period to board a flight, you still have to travel to the airport to fly. With an executive jet charter, you have the freedom to tell your pilot to fly to a smaller airport closer to your home, cutting your commute time significantly. Smaller airports also make for less crowded atmosphere perfect for you to find parking and avoid large crowds of people.

Besides the flexibility, travel to smaller airports and food, private jets allow you to choose the size and amenities you find on board. You may like to work as you travel, so you may get a 14-passenger jet with built-in Wi-Fi and a work desk. If you want to enjoy your flight, you can relax, watch some television with a built-in satellite receiver, allowing you to watch movies or catch up on world events.

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How Search Engines Operate

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Search engines the most used aspect of the Internet today. Since the services are free and in order to find good information they must be used, everyone that uses the Internet uses them at least a little bit. They are also much more efficient for advertising than traditional methods, offering a number of different methods for searching.

The first thing to understand is how search engines sort their listings once a search is conducted. Each search engine does this a little bit differently, and there are far more aspects of the algorithm than can possibly be presented. The basic way search engines work is they sort keywords by amount. Older search engines were strictly based off of this, but it is easy to be faked and is difficult to find the thing the person is looking for.

Modern search engines incorporate very complex methods of sorting. The first way is by relevance to the searcher. Each time a search is conducted it will put the links people most often clicked at the top and then sort with the same idea. The second way is by independent companies that the engines hire to rate their search results. These often provide tweaks and filter garbage results out that have been able to keep top spots. The third way is by relevance across the Internet. The more a website is linked to and talked about, the higher in the results it goes. This keeps searches relevant with current events by being able to quickly restructure search results once something blows up within the media.

There are services that help various companies and websites increase their search results rank as well. These SEO services use methods that search engines respond to in order to make a website more valuable for search results. The companies study how search engines operate and use methods that play into their methods of sorting. Anyone that wants to build a strong online presence is advised to look into one of these companies, because their services go far beyond what any individual company can do since the workload would be far too great.

Besides search results, there are ad banners that use a pay per click distribution system. What happens is when a search is conducted, there are advertisements that show up based around the search criteria. The search engine always wants to use the more relevant banners possible because they are paid each time the banner is clicked, linking the user to the advertised site’s webpage. PPC management companies often act as an intermediary between the search engine and the businesses. These companies allow one service to span a banner across multiple websites and search engines. This ensures the most reach possible using an inexpensive advertising method.

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Show Off Your Creative Side

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

As the age old question goes, “If a tree falls in the forest would it make a sound?” This is meant to set up the idea that if no one is around can you really tell if something happened? Now apply that concept to all your creative work or special mementoes: If you don’t take the chance to proudly display them how can you ever share them with friends and family? One of the best options for this kind of display would be shadow boxes or flag cases.

If you’ve never worked with shadow boxes before you should know that it follows along the same lines as a photo or picture frame in the sense that this is something that can be hung on a wall. The big difference is that with shadow boxes is that they allow you to encase more bulky items than you would with a traditional frame. As the name implies, shadow boxes are actually boxes that allow you to build a sort of diorama for your objects. Flag cases, on the other hand, are designed to specifically hold a flag that has been ceremonial folded in a particular way. Typically flag cases would be a triangle shape that can show off the stars of an American flag used in a memorial service of some kind.

The type of shadow box you can use depends entirely on what you’ll be saving inside. They come in a wide array of frame sizes and finishes. You can even have them custom designed to fit your exact specifications. If you want to use you own special finish the shadow boxes can come untreated.

The best approach for picking the perfect shadow box would be to select which type of objects you want to put on display. Not only would these creations be a perfect addition to your own home but that also make a delightful gift for someone special. You could create a baby shadow box for a newborn infant that includes the birth announcement, early photos and other trinkets the baby first used. For married couples a wedding shadow box can include the invitation, commemorative wine glass, the cake topper and program. A shadow box for a new graduate can house a program from the ceremony, photo and even tassel and cap.

Next you’ll want to pick the type of covering you’ll use on the back of the box. This should would in conjunction with the objects. You can use simple backings like felt or velvet or wrap the back in decorative paper. Keep in mind that you should avoid gluing objects to the back of the back and instead find a way to use pushpins for placement. If you want to glue the objects make sure to use a clear adhesive.

Finally, you should find a way to create some depth and dimension for your shadow boxes. This will mean placing items at different layers within the box itself. You can even use pieces of foam as a support to give height to certain items. With flag cases you are limited in how created you can be but that shouldn’t deter you from using them as poignant displays.

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An Artist Best Viewed On The Big Screen

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

There are few artists who can cross multiple genres skills these days. How many artist do you know who can sing, write books, act and paint? The one man who can accomplish all of this is Aussie’s answer to royalty, Nick Cave.

Cave has been a front man for several band’s including his most recent endeavor Grinderman. He is known for his haunting and often times volatile stage performances. However, few people know that his first love was art. He attended college to become a painter and then became obsessed with religious-gothic art. However, due to his somewhat pornographic depictions and interpretations of biblical passages, he was thrown out of the college.

At this time he was also singing for a local Australian band called The Boys Next Door, who evolved into the violent punk band The Birthday Party. A name Cave came up with while reading Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” scene that took place at a birthday party. In the early eighties The Birthday Party broke off into Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, which is still going strong and touring every few years.

Cave also started writing and acting with director John Hillcoat in the late eighties with the movie “Ghosts of the Civil Dead”. This was based loosely on the terrible treatment inmates where receiving in the Australian prison system. This is an amazing work that is meant to be seen on the big screen, but unless you have your own home theater including home theater seats to view this masterpiece, then you might have to suffer watching this on a small screen, which looses it’s magic.

Another collaboration Cave did with Hillcoat was the Australian homage to the western called “The Proposition” which tells the tale of a gang of brothers who must decide their fate and turn in one of their own or let another die. This movie is a bit bloody at times, but again, best seen while you relax in those home theatre seats and view it on the big screen. Some movies aren’t made for the small screen and this is one of them.

If you have decided that you like Cave, you can stay in your home theater seats and watch the documentary “God Is in the House”. This is one of the best live performances ever captured on video of any artist. There is also a documentary about Leonard Cohn called “I’m Your man” in which Cave performs a few songs and talks about the importance of Cohen.

Now if you want to get out of the home theater furniture and cuddle with a good book, Cave has two excellent novels. One is a southern gothic tale called “And the Ass Saw the Angel” which was penned in the early nineties. His more recent endeavor is “Bunny Monroe” which is more along the lines of Henry Miller with its explicit scenes. Either of these books are good for bed time reading.
Nick Cave is one man who can and does do it all. He is one of the few who is multi-talented in all areas of art. It seems unfair that one man should have so much talent, but when you do it as well as him, you can afford to be greedy with it.

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A New Approach to Growing Your Merchant Processing Business

October 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

In the past five years, the business climate for merchant processing has changed significantly. Profit margins are continuing to shrink and consolidation within the industry is at an all-time high. According to Mark Abbey, a partner with First Annapolis and a guest speaker at the recent Electronic Transaction Association’s Strategic Leadership conference, the top 10 acquirers have 40 percent more of the market share today than 10 years ago. Collin Rouse, a senior partner with GTCR, a major investor in the transaction processing industry, also stated at the conference that this growing trend in consolidation is no reason for small to medium-size entities involved in merchant processing to succumb to the large processors.

During the regeneration of the payment processing industry over the past 10 years, the small to medium-size companies are in fact thriving and producing a profit because they understand the need and are more equipped to deliver value added products and services to their customers. This same parallel exists today in banking. In today’s competitive landscape, banks must produce more volume in order to realize the same profit margins they experienced just two years ago. The good news is that, today, small to medium-size financial institutions have the opportunity to increase their profits and market share by delivering value-added products and services to their existing and potential customer-base. These value added products and services allow banks to equip their merchant customers with the tools they need to fuel growth and remain competitive, which in turn strengthens the bank’s relationship with the merchant customer and increases the opportunity for customer retention.

To grow their merchant account portfolio, banks must first stop concentrating solely on delivering merchant processing of Visa and MasterCard. Banks need to expand their merchant processing capabilities to include American Express, Discover, JCB, check services, and pre-paid products such as gift and stored-value cards. By offering many payment processing options on one terminal, PC software or Web product, banks are creating value for their merchant customers by offering them a full-suite of products and services from which to choose.

A key ingredient to ensuring that a bank’s suite of products and services is not only complete, but also first rate is to select a payment processing provider that understands price and value are not the same. Just as banks must understand the needs of their merchant customers, a payment processor must understand the market challenges and strong competition today’s financial institutions face and provide them with the products they need to retain their current customer base, increase business and elevate their bottom line. Not only should a bank’s payment processing partner offer the latest and greatest products and services, but they should also help the bank stay abreast of the newest technology and emerging trends in the payment processing industry. By doing so, this will allow the bank to keep their customers up-to-speed on expanded payment processing options, and provide the bank with additional opportunities to further their customer relationships.

Over the past few years, the types of payment processing products and services available have changed dramatically. For example, stored-value or pre-paid cards have evolved into a true payment form and are estimated to become a $347 billion business as soon as 2007. Visa estimates that the total number of transactions in 2003 that involved some type of pre-paid card totaled $2.1 trillion. Pre-paid card users cut across the spectrum. Government entities use them to disburse social security, veterans and child support benefits. Businesses use them for payroll, incentive/bonus plans, flexible spending accounts, insurance claims, workers’ compensation, promotions and rebates and customer service. Some companies also use pre-paid cards to cover such things as petty cash, relocation, private and government purchasing and various other corporate expenditures.

Consumers use pre-paid cards for things such as online shopping, travel, gifts and teen spending, as well as numerous other general purposes. Customers understand they provide convenience and security. Retailers offer pre-paid cards to gain customer loyalty and promote future sales. In 2003, 97 million Americans paid more than $43 billion for gift cards and two thirds of the users spent more than the card’s value upon redemption. These are just a few examples of the numerous opportunities that banks have readily available to expand their product and service offerings and add real value to merchant customers. As the industry continues to evolve and become even more competitive, banks must be open to new ideas and solutions that can help them stay ahead of the competition and enable them to increase their merchant account business profit margins and market share.

Merchant Bank Card Processing

October 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you have customers going to your competitor for services your customer doesn’t realize you provide?

With all the bank products and services necessary for today’s business customer, it may be a challenge to remember to offer everything a business needs on the first pass. This may leave your business customers vulnerable to a competitor’s call with an offer your bank should have made. Many businesses consider banking service as a relationship, a “One Stop Shop”. It is convenient for a business to transact all financial business in one place. Therefore, the financial institution that can meet all the banking needs of its customer is more likely to have a loyal customer that sticks around longer than a customer with just one or two products at the bank. Credit card processing, also known as Merchant Processing, is a financial product that your bank must offer to your customers to be competitive.

Merchant Processing is not only offered by your competitors in banking, but also by hordes of independent sales representatives not associated with a bank. A merchant account for your bank can strengthen the relationship with a business customer that results in increased deposits. The funds from the credit card sales will be deposited into your bank. Having that relationship means it is more difficult for a business to change their primary DDA to another financial institution – they will also have to change a merchant account. Offering merchant services to your customers in the beginning of the relationship will help keep your customers loyal to your bank. If a new business customer walks out of your bank without a merchant processing option, they will be a prime target for your competitor’s overtures. By offering a merchant account to the business, the bank will also win the primary deposit relationship.

It’s never too late to get your customers back! TransFirst, the endorsed Agent Bank Merchant Processor of the KBA, offers marketing programs to get that merchant relationship on the front end, and programs to go back to your existing business accounts that are not using your bank’s merchant services. Our successful and very popular Hidden Assets Discovery(TM) program is a marketing program that is easy to administer, proven, and will result in winning another piece of business from your current customers to strengthen your bank’s relationship. TransFirst provides merchant processing programs for over 750 community banks. TransFirst understands there is no “one-size fits all” program, and offers several programs to meet the needs of all sizes of community banks. Programs range from a hands-off referral program to a processing program for banks with experience and staff to manage the merchant program in- house.

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