Jeff Nickel draws inspiration from mouse ears. One mouse, specifically.
“You think Disney never makes a mistake, right? Sure they do,” says Nickel. “Disney makes a lot of mistakes, but their customer service is impeccable, and that’s what gets you to go back to Disney again and again. They take care of you.”

As the chief operating officer of ChargeSavvy, Nickel has taken that Disney hospitality to heart, which explains how the company has been protecting the gentlemen’s club industry for seven years.

“The emphasis of what (ChargeSavvy) was built for was to save you a lot of money, streamline your operations, and protect your money,” says Nickel.

ChargeSavvy got its gentlemen’s club start primarily aiding in the perpetual battle against chargebacks. “We’re a cloud-based system,” adds Nickel. “Whether our clubs use it in companion mode, which is side-by-side with their current POS system, or just use it as a straight-out POS system, we offer both. This allows our product to be a direct line to the bank. There’s very low interference and it allows us to streamline the whole process. It’s a direct gateway feed; we’re not waiting on authorizations or anything.”

When ChargeSavvy was being unfurled, chip cards were starting to propagate. This led to non-recourse chargebacks because clubs/businesses didn’t have chip readers.

“One of the nice things about our system, we do have the ability to preauthorize chip cards,” says Nickel. “One of the challenges in the past was when you used the terminal only, if you did a pre-authorization, you had to close it on the terminal you opened it on. Through ChargeSavvy’s partner hardware company MagTek, the integrated card readers allow you to pre-authorize on one terminal and close it at any other station.”

All charged up

Chargebacks have long been the scourge of gentlemen’s club owners and operators. Whether due to “buyer’s remorse” from the customer who got in trouble for expensing his night at the club, to the guy who thought he could cheat his way out his tab, chargebacks are a nightmare for the clubs and staff members who are responsible for gathering all of the information necessary to fight that chargeback. Nickel and ChargeSavvy are all too familiar with this issue, and they have the tools to help.

“In this industry, chargebacks are a huge problem,” Nickel explains. “That’s what we built the system originally for, was to fight the chargebacks. You talk to any of our clients and they’re going to tell you how much money we’ve saved them because that’s what it’s meant to do. No more PCI (Payment Card Industry) violation, taking Xerox copies of things, keeping binders—everything is cloud-based, everything is stored in encrypted files. Nothing can be altered.”

“Since we put the ChargeSavvy system in our club last year we haven’t lost a single charge back! The staff makes more money and we save huge on processing fees. A total win-win for the club.” – Josh, LeGirls Gentlemen’s Club, Scottsdale, AZ

“ChargeSavvy has proven itself to be the best tool in fighting chargebacks, as well providing our guests with the most transparent payment experience,” says Thom Naylor, Managing Partner at Archibalds’s in Washington, DC.

“We love ChargeSavvy; not only does it protect us against chargebacks, it protects our customer from having any unauthorized transactions,” adds Curtis Wise, owner of the Bucks Cabaret chain of clubs. “All transactions use a photo to verify the identity of the customer.”

“We’re always trying to innovate,” Nickel says. “While our emphasis is on the banking side, the technology side is how we really help the clubs.”

Case in point, chargeback notices come without warning and little to no information to help trace its root. They’re vague by design. A chargeback letter will typically come in and report a fraudulent transaction with the amount in question and the card number.

“You have two weeks to respond,” says Nickel. “They don’t get the customer’s name. They don’t get anything, really.”

With ChargeSavvy, a club owner/executive just has to login, go to customer history and look for the card number and voila. “So, literally, in 20 to 30 seconds, they could fight a chargeback,” Nickel adds.

“ChargeSavvy allows me to be more in control of my club by not having to worry about checking if every credit card transaction comes through,” says Zach of Gold Club Philadelphia. “And if there is a chargeback, the simple process to provide correct information takes a second, no joke!”

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Technology for the future, and a team that can deliver

Nickel, whose background stems from the hospitality industry, says while the company has been going strong for seven years, it has evolved significantly in the last couple of years with the introduction of new chief financial officer Reid Granados, a club industry veteran (formerly of the Admiral Theater in Chicago), as well as new chief technology officer, Brian Brammeier.

“Our industry goes beyond basic accounting and requires insider knowledge how entertainers are paid and VIP rentals are shared,” says Nickel. “Commissions for juice bars are common in our industry and having a CFO like Reid who understands all the intimate details of our business benefits how our development team gets direction from both our head of operations and our CFO to help design reports that actually attempt to give our clubs as much information at their fingertips as possible.

“We have used ChargeSavvy for nearly five years now and we absolutely love it! By simply using the ChargeSavvy system we have saved tens of thousands of dollars in fees and unwarranted chargebacks. I can’t imagine accepting credit cards in an adult club without this system. If you’re not using this system you are definitely missing out!” –  Danni, The World Famous Sam’s Hof Brau, Los Angeles

“With the further addition of Brian and with our own in-house development, what we’ve been able to do is really capture every aspect of our operating system, and control it,” Nickel adds. “We control its destiny, which is huge because you know, development firms tell you what you want to hear; conversely, your own people tell you what can be done. We’re really, really excited about those additions to what I call the foundation of our company, because without a foundation you can’t grow.”

Part of that growth has been externally motivated. Nickel points to how a lot of clubs have started implementing greater amounts of, and more intricately designed, technology—be it lighting, audio, sound, apps, or social media.

“Our operating system has to operate above the threshold of what all of these other systems are running on,” says Nickel. “Because let’s be honest, we’re helping to run their banking, and what’s more important than their bottom line? Clubs need to know what is going to show up in their bank account tomorrow.”

It isn’t just the gentlemen’s club owners and managers that benefit from ChargeSavvy’s high-end tech. The company’s ability to quickly either affirm or refute a chargeback not only keeps the clubs’ books in order, but it also keeps customers happier because ChargeSavvy has a foolproof method of capturing customer data, be it a signature, an instantaneous authorization code, and/or a data file.

“We all know in the hospitality industry that there are times when people take it upon themselves to maybe over tip themselves, or they try,” says Nickel. “Now what’s nice about our system is, it isn’t built on a tip-adjust environment. Instead, it’s all done in one loop transaction. That customer now can believe in that club as somebody that’s got their back, somebody that’s doing business with integrity.”

Innovation on display at EXPO

One does not experience year-over-year success and growth by standing pat. Fully aware, Nickel and ChargeSavvy—both regulars at the Gentlemen’s Club EXPO—are working on even more improvements they hope to unveil at the EXPO Tradeshow on August 16 & 17 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

First on the docket? Push to card.

Simply put, a push payment is when the borrower sends the money directly to the merchant one time or on a recurring schedule. Lenders can also push funds to a borrower’s prepaid or debit card.

“We’re trying to help solve some of the dilemmas with the entertainers and how entertainers are paid by the clubs now, in this new environment,” Nickel says. “That push to card is going to be huge because what push to card will do is the club will be able to authorize payments directly to the entertainer’s personal checking account, or bank account. You’re not going to have to be issued a card; you can get paid directly.”

“We love ChargeSavvy; not only does it protect us against chargebacks, it protects our customer from having any unauthorized transactions. All transactions use a photo to verify the identity of the customer.” – Curtis Wise, owner of the Bucks Cabaret chain of clubs

One ChargeSavvy design feature that’s making a comeback is Dance Tracker, which tracks entertainer-related information. This feature was previously built into the ChargeSavvy POS, but because Nickel felt that Dance Tracker wasn’t meeting as many needs as it could, he insisted on an in-house redevelopment to refine it.

“We’re going to take everybody’s suggestions,” says Nickel. “We’re going to listen and solicit from everybody that we work with that wants this. And when it’s finished, it will deliver exactly what these clubs say that they need from this Dance Tracker.”

Even with their new technological advancements and dedication to the highest level of customer service, Nickel knows that it’s about money. Whether it’s saving it, or making more, he stresses that ChargeSavvy has clubs covered.

“Any of the clubs you talk to that use our system will tell you how much money they save,” Nickel says. “But the employees, the employees will tell you how much more money they make. We put all of our thought into how we designed our system from an operator’s mindset. I want people that work for ChargeSavvy to be people who understand our customers because you can’t take care of them otherwise.”

Streamlined—for everyone from owners to entertainers, to DJs, to the customer. Sounds savvy.

For more information, call (708) 272-8170.

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