It's All About the Secret Sauce

by Mark Tepper 0

Depending on whom you talk to, everyone says they’re a program manager these days. But, are they really? Your success or failure depends on understanding the real deal.

After many years managing prepaid card programs, I still find so many companies examining entry into the marketplace without understanding the importance of a strong program manager. Whether Fortune 500 or boutique agency, your time is money and assembling all the right stuff takes a practiced hand. So, for those of you making that critical decision or wondering if you’ve made the right one, any program manager can tell you, we’re the glue. We are your secret sauce.

Here’s why it matters. We’ve invested the time, energy and financial resources that would drain the strongest core business to recreate. Entering into a relationship with a Program Manager is a more cost effective, flexible and less timely alternative. That’s why the value proposition begins with the program manager who delivers years of know-how and an understanding of all the dos and don’ts of the industry. Mistakes have already been made and lessons have long since been learned. Because of this experience, we’re saving time and money for your program set-up. Systems have already been built and compliances met in order to successfully run prepaid programs. What’s more, a Program Manager has the staffing, PCI and Bank Security Act compliance and legal understanding required to launch multifaceted programs. Chances are you are missing some of these key pieces. That’s money in your pocket. Do you really have time to waste and do you really want someone to learn at your expense?

Beyond the experience and infrastructure, a Program Manager is also going to bring strong relationships to the table. We’ve spent years building those relationships and, those relationships are critical for success. From the Banks and the Networks to the Processors and Fulfillment Houses, it’s an investment of years that translates to an ability to be conversant in all aspects of those critical elements. We’re able to pragmatically look at each entity and evaluate their strengths and limitations. Having a thorough understanding of what these are can be the difference between a success and a dismal, costly failure.

You’re also going to benefit from leveraging our existing contracts to save your company the cost of set-up fees and the pressure of maintaining high monthly minimums. Think about this. Just to connect into a processor can cost up to $65k with monthly minimums running over 25k. Since the Program Manager has multiple programs running with their partners, they are able to leverage volume and spread out the costs. Ultimately, having these various relationships also brings flexibility; flexibility that would be almost impossible if working directly with these vendors. What one Bank or Network might approve, another may not. The functionality at one processor or fulfillment house may not exist at another.

Timing is also a consideration. Different vendors have different timelines based on program parameters. If you were to make the decision to build out these relationships and infrastructures, the timeline to launch your program could be six months or even up to a year. When the rubber hits the road, based on complexity, a Program Manager can get you launched in 30-90 days.

When all is said and done, there are a couple of significant points to focus on when making an assessment. First, and most importantly, what is the Program Manager’s experience? It’s not only time in the industry, but what kind of programs have they run? A company could be in business for years, but only focused on consumer gift products. If you’re looking to run a complex corporate wellness program, they may not be the right fit.

It all boils down to this. There’s no magic wand that delivers the perfect recipe for success, but there is a secret sauce.

Mark Tepper is the President for 1to1 Card. Visit the PaymentsJournal Strategy Sessions for Self Service and Convenience and Prepaid.

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