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Author: Mike Carow

What will you be doing this New Year’s Eve?

We hope 2017 has been a good year for all of you! The year is not quite over and there is an important holiday yet to celebrate. If you have family and are looking for a fun time to spend it together, we would humbly suggest My Family New Year’s Eve.

My Family New Year’s Eve is geared toward kids of all ages, and will take place at the Monona Terrace, KEVA Sports Center, Madison Ice Arena, and Hartmeyer Ice Arena. This year’s event will include a magic show, puppet show, Circus train rides, face painting, bounce houses, music, crafts, balloon drop and so much more!

Wind River is proud to sponsor My Family New Year’s Eve. We believe it is important to be active within our community and give back whenever we can. Our employees take great pride in their volunteer efforts and participating in local charity events. We look to support local efforts that are in line with the goals and values of our family business.

We were fortunate enough to be able to pick a local charity and donate 150 tickets to this great family friendly celebration. It was a tough choice with so many great organizations in the Madison area, but we choose the YMCA with their rich 125-year tradition of providing valuable programs and services throughout Dane County. Every day, they work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

Have a great and safe New Year’s Eve, and we wish the very best in 2018!

Happy Hærfest: No, That is not a Misprint

I don’t know if you are like me, but I am always curious about where certain customs or traditions start. Like many, I had been taught that Thanksgiving celebration started at the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth Colony in 1621. But there is more to the story …

The word ‘harvest’ comes from the Old English word hærfest meaning ‘autumn’, aptly the season for gathering the food of the land. Harvest celebrations have been observed in different ways for as long as there have been people planting food. It was a vital time of year, when success was a genuine matter of life or death.

Many people today may not be thinking about “the harvest” during Thanksgiving. Life has changed a bit. But if we can take our minds back to those early times in history, it can bring an important perspective. Many of us don’t need to worry about the crop. What does remain, however, are two key ideas: bringing people together and being grateful.

We hope that each one of you reading this has the opportunity to be a part of a celebration with people that are important to you and can take the time to reflect on the “good things”. While not every day is a celebration, we have so much to be grateful for in our lives if we stop to think about it.

We, at Wind River, are grateful for all of you. The work we get to do brings us a harvest of satisfaction. It is our hope that you being part of the Wind River family makes your life simpler. We are truly grateful for you business and the opportunity to serve you.

So, to all of you, we want to wish a Happy Hærfest!

Great Feedback – Keep it Simple

In one of our recent posts we shared a couple of business statistics that we have been pondering. In that, we also asked for your feedback about a program we had created to say “Thank You”.

When you ask, you receive! Two things happened recently that brought us back to the principle and reminder to keep it simple. The first came from a conversation with one of our customers that had taken the time to read about the program.

“When I tell my story to someone, I want to make it easy for them to take action if they want to. How about if when they contact Wind River, they simply tell you “so and so” said I should call you.” No form, keep it simple!

Interestingly, that very thing recently happened. Actually, we have a great story we are hoping to share with you very soon. Without giving away all the details, we had a customer tell their Wind River story to another business owner. That business contacted us and recently joined the Wind River Family as well!

One of the exciting parts was what we had the opportunity to do next. The new customer has a higher credit card volume than the customer that sent them. Our “Thank You” back to the story teller was enough to cover all their credit card costs for 3 months! Those are fun calls to make!

Even better, the customer that told the story was not expecting anything. They were not aware of the new program, and simply did it because of their experience with us. That made it even more fun!

Thanks again for those that have provided feedback. Keep it coming!


It Comes Down to Service

When talking about business, one key question to ponder is, “Where does your business come from”?

We were recently having that discussion internally, and the answer told us something important. At Wind River, approximately 80% of our business has come because a friend, a partner, or a customer told their story to someone and said, “you should talk to these guys”.

We know from being in the world of payment processing for over 17 years, most companies cannot make that claim. We are humbled and thankful for our partners, customers, and friends. Receiving referrals speaks volumes about the trust you put in what we do.

Another statistic that goes hand in hand with referrals is retention. In the past few months, I have had the privilege of visiting with quite a number of our customers. I get the chance to hear some great stories.

One story line I often hear is regarding the crazy number of calls our customers are now receiving. “You would not believe how often I get calls from your competitors. I get as many as 4 – 6 calls a week!” Even with all those calls from companies trying to get a quick win by offering “the lowest price”, we have seen our customers vote with their actions – staying with Wind River 94% of the time. Another humbling statistic.

At its core, it comes down to service. We know that trust is built by doing the right things over time.

That leads me to another really important topic. We want to say “Thank You”. Thank you for being our customer. Thank you for putting your trust in us. Thank you for telling your stories to others.

As one way to say thank you, we created a way to provide something back to you when you tell your story to others. We would love your feedback so we can continue to refine how we say thank you and provide value back to you!

United Airlines Mock Safety Video: What’s the Bigger Message?

I am sure we have all seen it by now. The Jimmy Kimmel’s mock safety video that has gone viral.

The news and social media has exploded. While the video is humorous, the outrage felt by many is real.

United Airlines is not alone. There have been other very public stories in the banking and merchant world as well. It seems like there have been more of these types of stories recently than I can remember. We live in a connected society.

At its core, these stories illustrate quite graphically people being misled about what they bought, mistreated, stuck with their circumstances, and in many cases not having an ability to do anything about it on their own. Those are the circumstances, but what is the underlying issue?

Hidden not too deeply in these stories are some basis questions. What are the principles that these businesses are representing in these circumstances? What is the culture they are trying to build within their companies? How do they view customers and people?

When you boil it down, business is about principles, culture, and people. While not true of all “big businesses”, it is important to ask when you are going to make a purchase, buy a business service, or partner with a business – What principles do they stand for? How have they worked with others? How have others been treated?

It brings us back to some basic ideas. Bigger is not always better. The lowest price is not necessarily the best. Values are important. Service with integrity is critical.

It may sound a bit odd in this day of online transactions, but we still think it is true. It’s what you do after the handshake that counts.

The American Family Insurance Championship Returns to Madison

After a successful debut in 2016, the American Family Insurance Championship will be returning to Madison and Wind River Financial is proud to again sponsor this world-class event.

American Family Insurance and 12-time PGA Tour winner and Wisconsin native, Steve Stricker will be hosting the PGA Champions Tour. This tournament is a 3-day, 54-hole stroke play event held at University Ridge Golf Course, June 19-25, 2017.

Most importantly, proceeds from the event benefit a number of local charities. In 2016, the tournament raised $1,089,000 in charitable proceeds for American Family Children’s Hospital and 33 local charities –one of the highest grossing first-year PGA Tour Champions events.

While the tournament draws some of the top players on the tour and raises money for worthy causes, its economic impact in the region is also notable – $12 million in 2016. Last year’s tournament was made possible by 1,200 volunteers representing 15 states. The event also drew more than 56,000 spectators to the region from 26 different states.

The event, which will be broadcast on the Golf Channel, will also include celebrity golfers, an Executive Women’s Day and Youth Day.

To learn more about the American Family Insurance Championship, visit www.amfamchampionship.com.

What Holiday Traditions Can Teach Us

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition? When I was growing up, we had a number of them. One of those traditions that may be familiar to you and your family is the hiding a particular item in the tree to be found by one of the waiting children.

This tradition always created a lot of excitement and a bit of competition to see who could find this special item. Not only did it add some fun, but the winner was given a special prize.

Though it’s origins are disputed, and whether it was a simple ornament or what has now become the “Christmas Pickle”, we all have things that we look forward to and that bring people we care about together.

Each tradition, at its source, has a story as to its origin and is meant to provide a sentiment, lesson, or meaning. Traditions are a way for us to remind ourselves of our stories and that is a great thing!

At this time of year as we think of traditions and family, it reminds me of another holiday story you may have heard.

The story is told of a woman who brought home a ham and was preparing it for Christmas Dinner. She proceeded to cut the last three inches of it off, before placing it in the oven to cook it. Her husband, watching on, asked “Why do you cut off the last three inches of the ham off? Is that so it cooks better in the middle?”

His wife paused a moment and then answered, “I don’t really know, that’s just what I’ve always done. I saw my mother doing that when I was a girl”. Later the in-laws arrived for Christmas dinner and the question was brought up: “Mum – why did you cut the last three inches of the ham off before placing it in the oven to cook?”

“I don’t really know”, her mother replied. “Your grandma used to do that – so it’s just something I’ve always done – there must be a reason for it!” Later the family all travelled to Grandma’s house to share Christmas tea. During a lul in the conversation, the wife asked her grandmother, “Grandma, why did you teach Mum to cut the leg of ham in half before cooking it?” “Well“, replied the grandmother, “when your mother was a girl, the only pan I had was very small and I couldn’t fit the whole ham in, so I had to cut the last three inches off.”

The point of the story is a good one. Sometimes we forget the reason we do certain things and do them simply because “that is the way we have always done it.”

One tradition we have at Wind River is to provide our customers with the “After the Handshake Promise.” Our goal is to provide you with the best service in the Industry and keep your program running at is best.

Like the Tradition of the Pickle, you have rewarded us. We are proud to say that again this year, we have maintained our Industry leading retention rates. We are so very thankful to those that are our customers and look forward to expanding our family by introducing more customers to that tradition.

Like the story of the Christmas Ham, we also do not want to simply “do things the way we have always done them” without asking “How can we improve what we are doing?”.

As we look towards 2017, we want to expand our conversations with you. We want to learn more about your business and explore ways we can expand After the Handshake to make your lives better.

We look forward to continuing to share the Wind River tradition with you. May you all have a great Holiday Season and we look forward to a great 2017!

Thanksgiving: A Time To Remember and Give Thanks!

For those that follow history, the official Thanksgiving holiday was established back in 1863, under the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln and it was first observed on November 26, 1863.

It is interesting to reflect back on what was taking place back at that time. In 1863, we see a country that was struggling with division and in the midst of change. Fast-forward 153 years to 2016, and we see in certain ways history does repeat itself.

It seems that labeling people and groups has become our path to division in this day and age. It has become rare to hear someone identify themselves simply as an “American” in this country, yet for those that live here – that is who we are. So many have paid a large price to provide us with the opportunity to “be Americans”. It is time for us to unite again.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I hope we all have time to get together with family and friends. We truly have so very much in which to be thankful. We live in a free country that has provided so many the opportunities to pursue a life that adds value, meaning, and happiness.

To all of you that have been and continue to be our customers, we want to say a special “thank you” for allowing us to serve you. Wind River has been a strong, family owned business for 16 years because you have placed your trust in us. We do not take this trust lightly. It is our goal to provide the essence of our After the Handshake promise each and every day.

With thanksgiving, we look forward to the future and continuing to grow together.

Don’t Miss Out! September 8th is Coming Soon!

Have you saved September 8th on your calendar yet? That’s the date of our Innovation Exchange and Open House, and we’ve planned an exciting event that you won’t want to miss!

We’ve lined-up three, exceptional Guest Speakers who will share their expertise on topics that are changing the business landscape – understanding Millennials, Customer Engagement, and Loyalty. These experts will hold 30-minutes sessions where they’ll offer their insights, and answer questions. While you’re here you can also grab a beverage and some tasty food! Plan to travel around our building and grounds, you will find some other topics and innovations that can be very “rewarding”.

Have you ever wondered, “Do I really need to have someone watch the front door when guests or delivery people arrive?” Check out the Virtual Receptionist we hired for our new office!

Have you ever wanted to see how a Drone works? Learn how the Middleton Fire Department is incorporating a Drone into keeping us safe. Get up close and see how it is done! Amazing how this innovation is making an impact all around us including Fire Protection and Safety.

Be sure to check out our specialty booths where you can “Ask the Expert” about topics including: Breach Insurance, How to use your own data to provide Insights into your sales and profitability, questions about EMV and Chargebacks, processing those payments using countertop terminals, iPads, mobile, virtual and POS systems.

Have you actually been inside your bank or credit union lobby lately? If not, you might be interested in seeing a Cash Recycler in action. Innovation that allows the customer interaction to change the way bankers do their business.

Interested in understanding how using WiFi and Beacons to impact your business? Beacon technology will be in use, allowing us to demonstrate how it works! You will be part of the experience and get to see what insights it can bring!

Of course we are planning all the extras that make it fun including Prize Drawings, Door Prizes and Prairie Tours for nature lovers! Wellness ideas and Social Media fun too!

We look forward to entertaining and hosting you for the evening and hope you can join us. Invitations will be sent the week August 15th via Constant Contact. Look for yours!


Innovation Exchange and Client Appreciation Event – Save the date!

We are making plans to host our first BIG event at our new building!

It will be a fun evening filled with innovative ideas. Besides good food and drink, we have plans in the works which are intended to entertain and energize your mind!

We have invited industry experts who are hosting sessions so you can explore, learn, and pick their brain on topics that will help you engage your customers and improve the way you do business.

If a session is not your thing and you want to chill out, just come by for a visit and hang out with us on the patio. We hope you will leave with a smile on your face, possibly a door prize? and some new ideas and experiences.

If you are in the area, mark your calendar for Thursday, Sept 8 from 4-7 pm. An invite with more details to follow.

Question of the Week

Will you be traveling out of town for the 4th of July Holiday?

Last Week’s Question

Have you ever attended a PGA event?

Yes     67%

No     33%