Born and raised in Philadelphia, Adam Weizer, President of Servistree Merchant Services, moved to South Florida in 1996. At the time, Weizer was young and single and needed a fresh start. Not long after arriving, he met the owner of a food service and wholesale bakery company. He was offered and accepted a sales position selling food items to restaurants.
For the next 20 years, Weizer and his boss, who eventually became his partner, grew the company and eventually partnered together on Servistree. From exponential growth to challenges brought on by the Great Recession, Weizer shared the story behind his journey and how Servistree has established itself as a premier provider of merchant services for a variety of industries throughout Florida.
“Meeting the owner of Cyril’s Bakery was such a blessing,” Weizer said. “He was like a mentor to me. He taught me everything.”
Weizer continued, “Together, we grew the business to 11 employees and annual sales of nearly $10 Million. When the financial crisis hit in 2009, wheat production declined in favor of corn. This caused the price of flour to skyrocket. As a result, we had to lay everyone off except the two of us. Sales bottomed out and we found ourselves in a tough situation. At the time, my wife was pregnant with our first son. I knew we had to do something.”
Weizer approached his boss about starting a new business. They’d established strong relationships with hundreds of restaurants and identified an opportunity to provide them with a different kind of service.
“At the bakery, we always prided ourselves on providing a level of customer service that exceeded expectations,” Weizer said. “Because of our focus on customer service and experience in the industry, I always noticed that restaurants shared a common thread – they couldn’t get support when they needed it most. The food service industry is one big ball of pressure. When restaurants need something fixed, it needs to be done fast.”
Even though Weizer and his boss turned partner were entering a crowded market and knew very little about technology and merchant services, they had the relationships and knew how to provide exceptional customer service. In 2009, they launched Servistree as equal-share partners and immediately began calling on a long list of restaurant owners they knew through the bakery business. They started selling Point Of Sale systems, loyalty programs and other services with a focus on support and customer service. As Weizer shared, they delivered on their promises and exceeded expectations and, as a result, the business took off.
“The average customer in the credit card processing space stays with their service provider for three years,” he said. “Our average customer never leaves us. In fact, our attrition rate is only 3%. We’re the ambassadors for our clients. We do everything we can to make sure they get the level of service they deserve and expect.”
From 2009 through 2017, Weizer and his partner scaled Servistree while redeveloping the business model behind Cyril’s Foods. They add new technology and food items and put systems in place to allow for greater efficiency and more cost savings. At the time, Servistree was growing at a rate of 35% per year and by late 2016, they realized it was no longer possible to effectively run both businesses.
“By January 1, 2017, I bought out my partner and focused 100% of my attention on Servistree. Even though it was challenging in the beginning, we’ve become true consultants for our customers. They know they’re getting the best pricing and service and that they’re in good hands. I’ve really enjoyed the relationships I’ve developed over the years. Our clients are not just names or numbers in a database.”
The Servistree growth model has changed since the company was founded eleven years ago. Initially, independent sales agents were brought onboard, trained and supported in their prospecting and sales efforts. As Weizer explained, the new model is much more efficient.
“We now partner with existing business owners that want to incorporate our services into their offerings,” he said. “For example, one of our longest standing relationships and partnerships is with a debt collection company. They’ll call a business owner to help with their receivables and refer us in to discuss the processing of their credit card payments. They’re already dealing with owners and/or decision makers. It’s easy for them to have a conversation about the cost to process credit card payments. We become an extension of their service offerings.”
Over the years, Weizer has diversified his portfolio of clients. No longer does the food service industry make up a majority of his business. Even though business is down 60% from a peak in February, related to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Weizer is optimistic, but also realistic about the future. Given the current circumstances, his primary goal for 2020 is to get revenue back to where it was pre-pandemic.
What advice does Weizer have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Don’t be fearful,” he said. “My biggest regret is that I was fearful when I started the company. I had a great mentor, but fear held me back some. Also, don’t wait. Just jump in. There’s never a better time than right now to get started.”
Weizer continued, “I think having such a great job in my 30s made me complacent with my career and lifestyle. It also kept me from stepping out of my comfort zone and learning new things. Don’t let that happen to you.”