When Pete Cucinotti, a veteran marketer and search engine optimization (SEO) expert, started working for Lee Alava, a merchant services veteran with 20 years of experience, they talked about starting a wholly new enterprise, something that would bundle their expertise and create a new offering that the world had never seen.
In August of 2022, Xsellarate officially opened its doors and started to change the way small businesses work.
“Combining digital marketing services with merchant services is a totally unique venture,” Cucinotti, the co-founder and president, told California Business Journal.
One of the first solutions that every small business needs to find is a way to accept credit and debit card payments in the most convenient and cost effective manner. Being able to bundle this with your website design, presence, and functionality adds a level of convenience that is unique to the Xsellarate model.
Xsellarate’s various solutions process transactions securely and efficiently, whether online or via point-of-sale (POS) systems.
Of course, there is no shortage of merchant services companies who provide similar processing solutions. Because of this, Xsellarate has directed its focus primarily towards a dual pricing model.
“There are a lot of companies out there who have access and the ability to do dual pricing,” Cucinotti says, “but we’re really pushing it when it comes to dual pricing. That’s the inspiration for our business model. The margins that the company profits off of dual pricing allow us to reinvest that capital into digital marketing services for our merchants.”
“Due to the fact that we’re doing well off of the dual pricing structure, We can afford to give these business owners what would typically cost them $5,000 to $10,000 for the construction of a website and ongoing SEO services at the same time, the businesses, on average, are saving a lot more money than they would with any other kind of pricing system.”
So why don’t other merchant services offer SEO and digital marketing services? There’s an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality for most merchant services companies, Cucinotti says, especially ones that have been in business for a long time, in addition to the fact that offering dual pricing only recently became legal in all 50 states. But while other providers aren’t willing to rock the boat, Xsellarate’s digital marketing and SEO capabilities are in their blood, and customers are paying attention.
“We save these business owners a very significant amount of money. The dual pricing model results in our profit margins being double or triple the industry average, and we’re able to reinvest that money in the digital marketing segment.” That means Xsellarate’s creative team can create professional websites and provide outstanding SEO services for more e-commerce success stories.
“We are hyper-focused on taking care of small business owners,” Cucinotti says. He’s all too familiar with other providers overselling and under-delivering, which Xsellarate and their sales team work to avoid at all costs. “We’re really focused on being the good guys,” he says, a commitment that extends to their company culture.
Unlike traditional merchant services brands, Xsellarate is open to hiring sales reps with little to no professional experience. Cucinotti says they will bring young, hardworking people on board if they like a person’s energy and enthusiasm. “We’ve hired fast food workers before,” he says. “We give them a chance to get out there and start a career.”
In a tight job market, this is great news for people looking for a change, and Xsellarate is hiring for sales positions nationwide at the time of this article’s publication.
In brick-and-mortar locations, Xsellarate ensures clients comply with credit card companies’ requirements to charge a certain amount for smaller transactions. VISA, Mastercard, and American Express employ secret shoppers to visit gas stations and other storefronts to ensure their policies are adequately advertised and carried out. Business owners can receive a hefty fine if they do not enforce the fee compliantly.
“Most credit card companies will just send you an unannounced fine for $5,000 and tell you that you are non-compliant,” Cucinotti says. “That awareness, especially for small business owners who are already struggling with inflation, is really important to us.”
Small businesses can also find out how Xsellarate helps them to avoid paying extra for customers who use credit cards that offer airline miles or other perks. For years, the major credit card issuers have operated under the guise that they are providing special perks and rewards to their customers on their higher end cards. The sad reality is that those perks and rewards are actually paid out by the small business owners who accept these card payments. When a customer uses a regular credit card or debit card, the storefront pays between half a percent and 1.5%, typically. When the customer uses a rewards card for points or miles, the business has to pay upwards of three percent, which covers the cost of the rewards programs that the issuers offer. Xsellarate allows store owners to compliantly pass on a miniscule charge in order to avoid those fees.
In addition to marketing services and other offerings you won’t find anywhere else, there’s another reason to consider Xsellarate: Every time a business signs up with them, they donate a portion of the proceeds to the charity of their choice. New clients can choose from the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which provides mortgage-free homes to military and fallen first responder families with young children, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This cause is deeply personal to Cucinotti, whose mother suffered from MS throughout his childhood.
At any business of any size, success is more than just what you offer and how you reach your audience. The synergy between merchant services and digital marketing has become a game-changer for Xsellarate and the businesses that they serve. Its dual offering of digital marketing and merchant services represents a pivotal shift in how businesses can thrive in the digital era. “By combining these elements,” Cucinotti concludes, “we empower companies to adapt and excel in an increasingly competitive landscape.”
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