October 23, 2017

Agent of change: Kimberly Guest-Hernandez brings small businesses into the Digital Age

Kimberly Guest-Hernandez pounds the pavement every day, regularly meeting with hundreds of local business merchants in her home state of Texas. She hears the same pain point repeated time and time again.

“I don’t have any time.”

Time is money for busy small business owners who wear many hats. “I get that,” Kimberly says. “I push them because it’s my job to help them make more money. If they give me five minutes, I can save them time every day and help them run a better business.”

Kimberly is a new breed of merchant acquiring sales agent who isn’t satisfied with just setting up a point-of-sale system and credit card processing. Anyone can sell payment processing, she says — all you have to do is undercut your competitors on price. Ultimately, that’s a race to the bottom.

Even worse, it does a disservice to small business owners who are desperately trying to find an edge, attract more customers, and get more time in their day. If local businesses want to really compete and improve their livelihoods, they need better solutions for getting customers through the doors and coping with challenges that didn’t even exist a few years ago.

For Kimberly, the responsibility for delivering those solutions falls to people like her — consultants who literally come knocking on the front door of American small businesses every day.

“I really don’t know how some of these companies stay in business without technology solutions like Womply,” she says. “A lot of merchants think they can keep doing things the old way and be fine. That’s just not true. You have to do some marketing. You have to understand your competitors. These things are critical, and they don’t have to take a lot of time.”

Increasingly, Kimberly recommends software to help her merchant clients get better business results with less time and effort. She makes a point to tell her clients about Womply Insights because it addresses the problems they should be focusing on with simplicity and helps them get vital information quickly and easily.

Five years ago, Kimberly, a native of Mexia, Texas, got into the business of selling payment processing to small businesses in Houston, consulting on behalf of MCPS of Florida (a Paysafe company) via its branch in Shenandoah, Texas. In the past few years, she’s expanded her customer footprint, which now ranges from Houston in the south to Dallas/Ft. Worth in the north, and from Waco in the east to Gun Barrel City in the west.

Her product offering has expanded, as well.

These days, she considers herself a technology consultant. She’s seen how businesses that embrace technology flourish, while those who don’t flounder. As one example, she cites a local liquor store owner who uses analytics for everything from daily business operations to deciding where to build his next store.

“He does really well. He gets it — information is power,” she says.

For Kimberly, one of the ironies she encounters daily is merchants who are averse to technology because they see it as a time-suck, yet they insist on personally doing things they could just automate with software. “They’re used to doing things the hard way,” she says.

As one example, she knows business owners who do “secret shopper” visits to competing companies to learn about their hours of operation and figure out how well they’re doing in general. All that information is available at a glance in Womply’s dashboard, and it’s automatically gathered and curated with zero effort required from the merchant.

Despite the barriers to small businesses adopting technology, Kimberly is starting to witness a sea change.

“Merchants are starting to listen,” she says. “More and more, business owners I talk to are recognizing that they need an edge to stay competitive and improve their livelihoods, and technology is that edge. It’s so satisfying to bring them these solutions.”

Case in point: Maria Magana, owner of Maria’s Bridal & More in northwest Houston. For 17 years, Maria has selling gowns, tuxedos, accessories, and keepsakes for big events like weddings, bar mitzvahs, baptisms, baby showers, and high school proms from her store across from the Willow Brook Mall. In nearly two decades of doing business, the only constant for Maria has been the need to evolve with the times.

Kimberly Guest-Hernandez (right) poses with Maria Magana, owner of a bridal and special event apparel and accessory shop in Houston, Texas.

For local brick-and-mortar retailers like Maria’s, it’s getting tougher and tougher to compete in the age of Amazon and mobile e-commerce. As Maria notes, these days most customers find her business by searching on Google instead of hearing about it from traditional word of mouth. That means she needs to revamp her company’s online presence and take control of her online business reputation to stay competitive.

That’s where Kimberly comes in.

“Small businesses have never faced tougher obstacles, but they’ve also never had access to better tools,” she says. “It’s my job to help them see the opportunities that are within their reach. I won’t stop until I help them succeed.”

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