Tom Epstein knows a thing or two about franchising success. After all, he’s a franchisee himself and owns a company that works with hundreds of franchise brands to help them manage payments. Epstein founded Franchise Payments Network in 2006. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., the 30-person team at FPN handles payment processing as well as gift and loyalty programs exclusively for franchise systems.
Named 2018 and 2019 Top Franchise Supplier by Entrepreneur Magazine FPN works with close to 180 franchise brands and thousands of their franchisees, Epstein says. Some of FPN’s biggest clients include brands like Nathan’s, OxiFresh, Mac Tools, and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. Epstein shares talks about payments and loyalty programs, and shares his best insights on what it takes to succeed in franchising.
What’s your best advice for franchise owners in regard to payment systems?
[Epstein] You want to be sure your pricing is consistent across your brand just as you would any other line item in your P and L and as a company you understand the service needs of your franchisees.
One thing to be careful of is more POS companies have a payment processor that they prefer you work with. They can process with just about anyone but push you to their partner as they will get a revenue share back from them that they rarely disclose to you. FPN does not do that—we work with all POS companies, but the franchisor is our customer not the POS company so we don’t pay the POS company giving us the ability to pass the best rates possible through to your franchisees.
Payments systems are evolving. What’s ahead?
[Epstein] Technology is moving very quickly in POS. Equipment is getting less expensive and software is now housed in the cloud for easier updates and enhancements. At this point, I wouldn’t be considering any non-tablet POS. The POS at the check-out station will likely be a thing of the past in fi ve to 10 years. You will be able to pay for things in the isles or from a simple tap on your phone as you walk out the door after your items are scanned via your mobile device.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve seen owners make with their loyalty programs?
[Epstein] I always tell people to look at loyalty as a way to get your customers to do something that they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Don’t reward them for what they are already doing. Incentivize them to do something more; to come back more often or buy more/ different items. Otherwise you are just giving away margin.
If you could tell franchisees one thing about success, what would it be?
[Epstein] Persistence! When I started FPN I had no “plan B.” It was do or die and there were times early on when other people would have just quit but we always found a way to get through it. Same with franchises and franchisors. I have been on the board with a franchisor and I own two fitness franchises. There is no issue that cannot be resolved. You cannot lose if you don’t quit
Special thank you to Entrepreneur Magazine for making this interview possible.