First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Scott Hawksworth: We’re hanging in there and feel fortunate to be happy and healthy these days. My wife and I had our first child this year, so it’s been an adjustment not only caring for an infant but also dealing with the ongoing pandemic. But we’re hanging in there!
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Soarpay.
Scott Hawksworth: I’ve been working in marketing, and specifically digital marketing, for over 15 years. My entire professional career has been spent working for startups in various industries, with online education and now payments being the two most notable ones. I had a bit of a winding journey into the payments world. My journey began with Soar Payments hiring me as a consultant to help them better market the business. Specifically, I helped by launching and hosting a podcast all about the payments industry. I instantly fell in love with the industry and was fortunate to have an opportunity to join Soarpay full-time to help with sales in addition to the marketing side of things…
How does Soarpay innovate?
Scott Hawksworth: We innovate through technology and communication. From the tech side, we have the ability to provide merchants looking for credit card processing (or other payment options) with an instant quote. We also have systems built to help the underwriting process move as quickly as possible. Our approach to managing merchant applications and offering flexible integration options for various industries is a real strength.
As for communication, it may seem strange to say it’s innovative to just communicate with customers… but it is. The way we are available actually to speak on the phone with customers when they call, our approach to updating merchants on their application progress, and overall communication touchpoints set us apart.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Scott Hawksworth: Like so many businesses, Covid-19 also had some negative impacts on us. Since we’re in merchant services, any impact on businesses in industries we service trickled down to us. In particular, Travel businesses we work with were hit very hard.
We’ve coped with it by leaning into our offerings and really helping our merchants in any way we can. Whether it’s helping them get set up to accept alternate payment methods, better manage their chargebacks, or taking a look at their processing rates… we have helped our merchants navigate these difficult times. We have also been fortunate that many of our businesses are classified as eCommerce businesses, selling products, and services digitally. With social distancing requirements and the subsequent digital commerce boom, it’s helped us navigate some of the negative financial aspects.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Scott Hawksworth: Fortunately, we didn’t have to make too many difficult choices beyond cutting some expenses where we could. Probably the biggest lesson we learned is how important it is to have a diverse portfolio of merchants across a wide range of industries. If, for example, we only worked with Travel merchants, we may have had a simply devastating outlook. Flexibility is important in business, and that lesson was once again one we learned.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Soarpay in the future?
Scott Hawksworth: My biggest way of dealing with the stress is trying to live a healthy lifestyle (eat right, sleep, exercise) and knowing that it’s okay to take a break from work. When not working, family time, or even alone time, is tremendously valuable.
As for protecting the company, it’s all about what I mentioned previously… staying flexible and diversified as a business. If coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that external forces can impact a business in sudden and unexpected ways. It never hurts to look at your customers, partnerships, growth strategy, and consider what would happen if something changed. If your largest customer left, could your business survive? If a new competitor entered the market, could you adapt? That kind of forward-thinking and approach to business risk is the number one thing that can protect you.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Scott Hawksworth: Our industry is very competitive. Everyone from ISOs to banks, to companies like Stripe and Square, might be considered competitors to us in one way or another. Ironically, many of them can also be partners, as partnerships are crucial in this industry.
Our plan to “stay in the game” is all about leaning into what we’re good at. We’ll lead with customer service and efficient technology usage, we’ll keep growing our reach through solid marketing efforts, and we’ll always keep our eyes out for new opportunities.
Your final thoughts?
Scott Hawksworth: Business can be challenging at times, so an even-handed approach is never a bad idea. Don’t let the stress of uncertainty let you lose focus. Don’t forget to lead with what you know best and trust yourself to adapt. Covid19 has challenged so many businesses.