We spoke with Amy Lebo, operations manager at Crazy Skates USA to learn the Crazy Skates story and the secret to their success.

Tell us about Crazy Skates.

Primarily focusing on roller skates and inline skates, Crazy Skates specializes in multiple markets within the industry. From roller rink rental skates and recreational children's skates to adult "retro" skates and roller derby equipment, we take pride in helping people enjoy what we believe is one of the most wonderful pastimes! We are based in Indianapolis, Ind., with headquarters in Australia. 

How did Crazy Skates get its start?

Our founder, John Moore, owned and operated a roller skating rink in Australia.  Not happy with the quality of skates available to his customers, John decided to create his own skates. Word spread and fellow rink owners asked John if they could purchase his skates for use at their rinks. What began in 2007 as a “crazy” idea has now developed into an internationally recognized roller skate brand of choice. 

What is special/unique about Crazy Skates?

Skate production is a competitive market with the focus being on price, which can lead to a decrease in quality. This is where Crazy Skates is different. We take all of our passion for people enjoying the pastime of roller skating and put that in the development and manufacturing of every product. We then figure out how we can produce a high quality product at the very best price. Traditionally, skate manufacturers work with wholesalers who in turn sell the skates to the end user. Crazy Skates acts as both the manufacturer and distributor, which helps us control costs.

What do you love about the roller skating business?

Roller skating is a pastime that has a way of bringing people together. Putting on a pair of skates allows us to enjoy the moment and the sensation that only being on eight wheels brings. Roller skating just tends to make people happy. It is more than just a sport. At Crazy Skates, our goal is to improve the experience people have when they ride skates. We truly believe that this is the quintessential difference between our brand and any other.  

How do you use Authorize.Net?

As the world moves faster, Crazy Skates has had to review the ways we serve our customers. The reliability and ease of Authorize.Net was a logical fit. Authorize.Net is fully integrated with our accounting system, which is critical for our supply chain management. We are happy to be associated with a payment provider that gives us flexibility, and most importantly, after-hours service to ensure that our payment system is operational at all times. Authorize.Net is our choice in both the USA and Australian operations. Just like us, Authorize.Net understands the needs of local financial transacting! Choosing Authorize.Net was and will remain part of our success story for years to come. A great partnership that truly keeps the wheels turning!

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Our Advice

Every business needs to give their customers a reason to buy from them and not elsewhere. That’s why we believe that building relationships with our customers is just as important as making sales. We believe that clearly understanding what it is your customers really want is at the center of every successful business. Once you have this understanding you can encourage potential and existing customers that buying from you is the best option.

Our Story:

Merchant Automotive provides industry leading customer service and support. The staff of professionals has intimate knowledge in all the Duramax/Allison platforms and is dedicated to achieving 100% customer satisfaction. Merchant Automotive provides highly specific technical information not found anywhere else. Many products are custom-designed and manufactured in-house to provide the customer maximized performance and reliability. The emphasis on product design and specialized manufacturing means that Merchant Automotive can offer low pricing on products not found at other companies.

Merchant Automotive was founded in 2004 by Eric Merchant. Eric got his start in high school where he discovered his passion for anything with a motor. He took his passion and turned it into a career in 1993 working in a small shop doing brakes and alignment work. He accumulated knowledge daily and soon took a position at a GM dealership in 1995, and advanced up the ranks over the next 10 years. Along the way, Eric dedicated himself to studying the business, taking over 3,000 hours of GM training and maintaining ASE Master Certification since 1998.

In April 2008, Merchant Automotive moved into its current location in Zeeland, MI. The move was a huge undertaking that involved a complete remodeling of the building. That building, having over 10,000 square feet of space, has allowed for greater expansion and a large retail front.

How We Use Authorize.Net

“We switched to Authorize.Net for their Advanced Fraud Detection Suite that comes as an additional service included with the monthly payment gateway,” says Jereco Price, marketing manager of Merchant Automotive. “Advanced Fraud Detection Suite helps us to identify, manage and prevent suspicious fraudulent transactions that with our previous service was becoming costly.” We now use Authorize.Net to accept payments on our website www.merchant-automotive.com. The website is the largest portion of our business but we also use Authorize.Net to accept payments in our retail shop and to check out customers in our service shop.

To learn more about Merchant Automotive, visit: www.merchant-automotive.com.

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Holiday sales can bring cheer to the heart of any small business owner. However, you need more than Santa's magic to have a successful holiday season. Good preparation is one of the key ingredients to produce a record-breaking holiday season for your business.

Prepare Inventory Early

If you don’t prepare your inventory ahead of the holiday season, you may find your shelves empty of your biggest sellers, forcing you to miss out on big sales. Consulting previous holiday season sales records can help you determine which items you need to stock in large quantities. If you're running special promotions on certain items, be sure to stock up with extra quantities of those items. Check with the sales representatives of your most important vendors; they may be running holiday specials of their own to make it easier for you to stock up ahead of the holiday season.

Refresh Your Website

Updating your website with a seasonal look will inspire your customers to start thinking about their holiday shopping. In addition to giving your website a facelift, an investment in upgrading your server’s capacity can help you meet a rush of demand from your customers. Make sure your website also offers the latest security measures. Help minimize and prevent authorization and chargeback fees as well as possible inventory loss resulting from fraudulent transactions by adding Advanced Fraud Detection Suite included with your Authorize.Net Payment Gateway account.

Plan Promotions

Promotions are an excellent way to attract new customers and bring back former customers. If your business is online, free or reduced shipping is always an attractive choice. You can also offer coupons and discounts on orders. You'll also need to decide if you want to offer special deals on popular shopping days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Once you've decided on your promotions, you can use your social media profiles to advertise your special deals and keep your customers in the loop about shipping deadlines and your store's holiday hours.

Hire Seasonal Employees

Seasonal employees are a great way to handle the extra large crowds that often accompany the holiday season. Carefully consider where you need the most help; you may need extra hands on deck to staff your warehouse or run the cash registers. Hiring extra help before the holiday shopping season starts can give your temporary hires time to become fully trained before the rush of crowds overwhelms your business. 

Add Flexible Payment Options

During the holidays, your customers may feel stressed with party planning and long shopping lists to complete. Offering easy and flexible payment options is a great way to remove some of the stress from holiday shopping. With Authorize.Net you can accept payments anywhere. Accept credit cards and eCheck.Net® on your website. Accept payments in person using the Authorize.Net mPOS mobile app and secure card reader available here. Or set up Visa Checkout where your customers can easily pay online with a single sign in.

Brush Up Customer Service Skills

Good customer service is always a plus, but during the holiday season your customers will appreciate it even more. Take time to work with your employees to instill a positive customer service attitude and teach them conflict-resolution techniques. Delight your customers with candy canes in their shipments or hot apple cider in store. Employees who can handle difficult situations with a smile will be remembered by your customers and boost your company's reputation.

The holiday season can bring challenges to small businesses, but also opportunity for great successes. Planning your holiday strategy early can help you meet those challenges and make your customers happy.

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Shayna Vest, of Dress Like A Pirate.com, an Authorize.Net merchant, shares her story and business advice.

Tell us about your business Dress Like A Pirate.com

Based out of Portland, Oregon, Dresslikeapirate.com is one of the world’s most popular theatrical costuming, pirate, theme wedding and roleplay garb sites.

I'm a single mom, entrepreneur, goddess and pirate and I started Dresslikeapirate.com in 1996. I was selling vintage clothing on eBay. One day I attended a co-workers wedding where all of the women dressed like fairies and the men like pirates! My passion found a niche market.

After receiving the first 75 pirate shirts and selling out in three weeks, I was told by the post office clerk “Did you know that September 19th is Talk Like A Pirate Day?” Well, I rushed home, looked it up, found out the Pirate Guys were right down the road in Albany, Oregon, and exclaimed, “You guys will be my friends for life!” I named the new venture Dresslikeapirate.com. To this day, the Pirate Guys are my friends, my son has played with Chumbucket’s son, and I dressed his wife for the pirate episode of Wife Swap.

What Makes You Successful?

I think what makes me successful is that I steer my vision to the road ahead and am constantly trying new ideas and ways of reaching people instead of trying to counter copycats and competitors. I've found my particular talent is the original ideas and designs.

What would be your advice to other small businesses out there?

My business advice to other entrepreneurs is based on inspiration I found in a book I read by Seth Godin, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. You have to have something that no one else has, or do it in a way no one else does, that’s what sets you apart.

How have you been able to reach this niche market?

Authorize.Net enables us to accept payments on our website so we can offer our high quality pirate costumes, clothing and accessories to the world. Authorize.Net is the only processing gateway I'll ever use. The customer service is fantastic. They've helped me in a number of situations that required extra information and help.

To learn more, visit www.Dresslikeapirate.com

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

The Business

Since 1985, the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation (DSDC) has worked with the city, local downtown businesses and other community organizations to help drive revitalization efforts in Statesville, North Carolina. These efforts have included a massive downtown streetscape improvement project, a downtown marketing program and over 20 downtown events to help attract visitors and citizens to help grow the local business economy. 

The Challenge

In 2016, the DSDC wanted to find a way to promote downtown city events, including creating an online ticket purchasing solution and an online vendor booth application system. They also wanted their local bank, Yadkin Bank, to be the credit card processor.

DSDC Director Marin Tomlin contacted Cashklick, an innovative local marketing and technology company, to create various custom solutions to fulfil the needs.

The Solution

Cashklick created several custom pieces of software to help implement ticket sales and vendor applications, as well as promotional software to help market events. Cashklick’s solution included an events calendar on both the website and Facebook for ticket sales. Cashklick also provided DSDC with a promotional newsletter solution to help market events complete with "buy now" or "apply now" buttons.

This feature has proven popular with users who can now purchase tickets for events or sign up for tours. Vendors can use the system to apply for booth space and submit payment and gives DSDC the chance to approve each application via the backend.

“Cashklick is integrated with Authorize.Net and we are a resale partner,” says Sharon Wahrmund, VP product and operations. “Three years ago Cashklick switched to Authorize.Net when we started to experience some issues with another vendor. Cashklick takes ecommerce seriously, we searched for a reliable solution and a vendor that would work with us as a partner. Our team has been quite happy with the results too. The Authorize.Net solution is extremely dependable. We recommended using Authorize.Net's secure payment gateway solution and Virtual Point of Sale to DSDC to meet their online payment needs.”

The Result

The DSDC first event, a wine walk, sold out. The organization is currently setting up new events including a Ghost Tour, Hops & Harmony Craft Brew Fest, and Pumpkin Fest. Cashklick has future plans to expand even more programs with DSDC.

"By implementing these solutions, DSDC has helped spur our local economy and helped create our first sold out ticketed event," says Tomlin. “We’re very happy with the work that Cashklick provided and thanks to Authorize.Net we’re thrilled to be able to accept payments online and use our local banking credit card processor Yadkin Bank. It’s been a win/win for our local community."

To learn more about Cashklick, visit https://www.cashklick.com/

To learn more about Downtown Statesville, visit http://www.downtownstatesvillenc.org/

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Business owners face new challenges constantly. These challenges can be particularly daunting for new business owners as they trade their 9-5 job for a 24/7 passion. Learning the attributes of successful entrepreneurs can help new business owners understand they are not alone, and provide motivation to keep navigating to their own success.

See the Big Picture

Many new business owners get caught up in the present. They are focused on navigating the problems that arise each day. However, successful business owners focus on the future. It is key to see the "big picture" and remain on a path that keeps a company meeting long-term goals. The market moves quickly, so it is essential to stay true to your vision and map out a road that gets the job done for tomorrow and beyond.

Experience Failure and Move On

Failure is an inevitable part of life. However, the way a person handles setbacks can have a profound effect on their business. A successful business owner works to understand the reason for the setback and understand how to avoid similar setbacks in the future so that when the next opportunity pops up the business will be well-positioned to achieve a positive outcome.

Take Risks

Taking risks may seem scary, but it extends the possibility of achieving success. A strong business owner assesses a situation and tries something that has the potential to maximize success without causing unnecessary jeopardy.

Mark Pincas, founder of the gaming company Zynga, walked away from a guaranteed source of funding for his first venture. Despite being short on cash, he decided against the deal, which did not fit with his vision. Not accepting the investment was a worthwhile and successful risk. Pincas secured money from a different source, remained in control, and eventually sold the company, which allowed him to establish Zynga. 

Hire People Who are Better Than You

Winning business owners understand the importance of surrounding themselves with smart people. Learning to work effectively with others and use their strengths will help you gain success. For instance, if you develop a message that must be presented to the public but have poor social media skills, it might be wise to hire a person who knows the ins and outs of these platforms. A solid company has a team with various abilities and employees who unite their talents to form a powerhouse.

Find Trusted Partners

Partnering with trusted companies can help business owners run their business smoothly and effectively by taking the daily minutia off their plates so they can focus on growing the business. Partnering with Authorize.Net means business owners do not have to worry about how to accept payments from customers. From marketing needs to shipping products to customers, Authorize.Net has a Partner Directory and a Merchant Toolbox to help business owners find the right partners for their business needs. 

Have a Competitive Spirit

A strong business owner usually has a competitive spirit and enjoys winning. Since starting a business is a big challenge, it is the perfect way to harness this energy. A competitive spirit is essential to win customers and increase market share.

Help Others

Leaders of successful businesses recognize the importance of networking. Although it is common to take help from others, a successful entrepreneur gives assistance without haste. He or she shares useful information, helps finish tasks and presents opportunities to colleagues.

Conclusion

Beginning a new business is not easy, so it is important to examine the traits of successful business owners. Although these qualities do not ensure success, they can help provide a better chance of growing a business and enjoying prosperity. 

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Wedding season is in the air and Authorize.Net merchant Raymond Miller of My Wedding Reception Ideas, shares his small business advice including what inspired him to start his business and what lead to its success.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
– Zig Ziglar

This Zig Ziglar quote inspired Raymond Miller, founder of My Wedding Reception Ideas, to create a business that helps couples prepare for what can sometimes be one of the most stressful times of their lives. Thirteen years later, My Wedding Reception Ideas has helped thousands of couples make one of the most important days of their lives more special and memorable.

How did you get the idea to start your business?

My Wedding Reception Ideas was conceived in 2003 when a friend asked me if they could use my fruit press to press grapes. They were making homemade wine to hand out at their wedding the following year. On the way home that evening after pressing grapes with my friend and her fiancé, I thought to myself, what a wonderful business it would be to help couples make one of the most important days of their lives even more special.

We’ve now helped thousands of couples make their wedding day extra special AND make the process as stress-free as possible. At the end of every day, my staff and I take great pride and satisfaction in knowing we are part of so many lives at such an important time of their lives.

What kind of items do you have at My Wedding Reception Ideas?

At My Wedding Reception Ideas, you will find an exquisite collection of wedding décor, gifts, stationery and accessories perfect for weddings and receptions. We invite couples to create their dream wedding with our creative and customizable wedding decorations, favors and reception gifts to add a unique and personal touch to their special day. 

What is your small business advice?

Always give a little more than you promise. Don't set customer expectations higher than what you can provide, be it service, product quality, or shipping. For example, let's say it takes four business days to normally turn your product around or provide your service, add an extra day and tell the customer that it may take 5 business days. This does two things; 1) an extra business day allows for any unforeseen delays; and 2) your customer will be elated when they receive their product or service faster than what you originally promised.

To find out more about My Wedding Reception Ideas, check them out at www.MyWeddingReceptionIdeas.com.   

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Setting up shop to offer your products or services online and using Authorize.Net to accept payments are great first steps towards attracting new customers for your business. Still, many businesses face a constant challenge of attracting new and existing customers to their websites. 

Here are six ways to drive more traffic to your site, potentially increasing sales and online success. 

Create a Strong Opt-In Offer

Building a strong e-mail list is one of the first steps to online sales success. In order to build a list, though, you'll need to do more than just ask visitors to sign up for e-mails. You'll need to incentivize them to do so. How? Use an opt-in offer such as a discount or coupon code. For example, you might give all new e-mail subscribers a special code for 20 percent off their first purchase on your site. Of course, you'll need to promote your offer both on your website itself and through your social media profiles. 

Using MailChimp is an easy way to stay in touch with your customers and generate repeat business. Plus Authorize.Net customers get six free Inbox Inspections ($28 value) and free Advanced Reporting ($49 value) automatically added to their account. Learn More.

Build a Sense of Urgency

A highly successful sales tactic is to make customers feel as though they have to buy your product now. Talented sales people can do this in-person, but it's possible to pull it off online too. You can create urgency among customers by offering limited-time coupons and discounts, counting down available inventory of popular items, offering freebies for visitors who buy products by a certain time and advertising flash sales that last for 24 hours or less.

Create Sharable Content

You've spent a lot of time refining the product pages of your website, but it's essential to pay attention to your blog and social media opportunities too. Instead of broadcasting information about your products exclusively, share free info or tips that customers will be drawn to naturally. Linking to a helpful article orwriting a quick post with tips related to your industry appeals to new and old customers alike. The trick is to create content that your viewers will not only want to read, but will feel compelled to share with friends and co-workers too.

Incorporate Responsive Site Design

To provide your customers with the best experience possible, consider incorporating responsive design into your website. What does that mean? Put simply, it means that site visitors will have a high-quality browsing experience whether they're using a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. The goal is to make sure that potential customers can easily browse your products and complete an order no matter the device they happen to be using.

Post Your Customer Reviews

Posting customer reviews on your website itself and on your social media profiles will help to engender a sense of trust with shoppers. After all, people want to know what others think of your products before they buy. Of course, it's important that you're careful not to edit or cherry pick your reviews. Don't hide negative reviews but respond promptly, clearly and professionally so that potential customers know you're serious about fixing problems and meeting their needs.

Make Paying Easy for the Customer

Once you get them to your site, you want to do everything you can to make it easy to purchase. If you have the type of business that has repeat customers, you can reduce shopping cart abandonmentand make it easier for customers to pay by using Authorize.Net’s tokenization service, Customer Information Manager (CIM). By securely storing your customers' payment data with CIM, you eliminate the need for customers to re-enter information for every subsequent transaction, providing a quicker checkout process. 

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

 

Authorize.Net merchant Caruh Salon Spa in Seattle, Washington has been voted one of America’s Top 200 Salons for 10 years in a row by Salon Today Magazine. We asked Chief Beauty Officer and Owner Cyndi DeSoto to share her small business advice.

"Our secret? Focus on developing great humans and the business takes care of itself," says DeSoto. "As a business owner, parent, mentor and a woman with big dreams of my own, I find over and over again that the barrier to success is our own self-worth.  While our revenue comes from salon and spa services and product sales, the real work is exploring who we are, what we do and why it matters." 

That work, according to DeSoto, includes several core principles.

"We start each shift with a team huddle to set intentions for the day, identify opportunities for guests and discover what support is needed for each person to show up ready to give their best. We have quarterly personal development retreats and we organize our work flow to require ‘all hands at all times’ so everyone is busy participating as a team and not left alone."

DeSoto’s commitment to excellence begins with herself: "To lead a business rooted in people and the art of self-expression, I have to be committed to my own personal development path. Never easy, but always worth it," she explains.

In addition to serving as chief beauty officer and owner of Caruh Salon Spa, Cyndi DeSoto makes regular appearances at industry events speaking about her innovative leadership style and beliefs about beauty. To learn more, visit www.caruh.com 

Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Today we celebrate America’s favorite summer food, best enjoyed at the ball park or on the grill on a hot summer day. Authorize.Net merchant, NorthStar Bison, makers of high quality, 100% grass-fed beef and bison hot dogs shares its story and business advice.

We spoke with Sean Graese about his family’s ranch.

How did NorthStar Bison get its start?

NorthStar Bison is family owned and operated and was birthed in September 1994 with the purchase of two young bison to fulfill a life-long dream of both of my parents. Shortly after, in January of 1995, we added six bred cows which contributed to the growth of the herd reaching 14. During that time, the decision to market the meat directly was made. In pursuit of learning how to raise and produce the highest quality of meat, we realized that 100% grass-fed bison was the best all around; good for land, good for the animals and good for people. This became our motto. We were determined to make quality products and excellent customer service our primary commitment to our customers.

The meat offerings have expanded to include bison, beef, lamb, pastured poultry and pork, elk, ostrich and venison. Our market includes retail and wholesale customers ranging from restaurants to grocery outlets and ranch stores.

How has NorthStar Bison achieved success?

Authorize.Net enables us to accept payments on our website www.northstarbison.com so we can offer our high quality meat and products to customers around the country. But the website offers even more than online ordering. Our family is passionate about health. My parents were both power lifters and my mom was a dietician before starting the ranch. They wanted to consume and offer high-quality, red meat protein, so healthy, even trained professional athletes could enjoy its health benefits. Our website, social media and newsletter offer education, articles, interviews and even recipes for a healthy lifestyle, from the health benefits of nutrient-rich, grass-fed meat to the benefits of CLA and Omega 3. We believe in taking the best care of our animals to produce nutrient enriched food to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

What would be your advice to other small businesses out there?

We truly believe in the quote, “Worry about being better, bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can.” – Gary Comer, founder of Land’s End.

Satisfying our customers' requests is our number one priority. Because of this, the growth of our business has been through the word of mouth of our happy customers.

To learn more visit: www.northstarbison.com

Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.