Shannon Shores, CEO of Wellex wants to save the world. She may not wear a cape or have the power of flight, but the former Southern Illinois Saluki is doing her part, one person at a time. Shannon currently serves as the CEO of Wellex, a health care firm devoted to offering private, discreet STD testing to thousands of customers across 48 states.
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Shannon Shores, CEO of Wellex[/caption]Shannon Shores wants to save the world. She may not wear a cape or have the power of flight, but the former Southern Illinois Saluki is doing her part, one person at a time. Shannon currently serves as the CEO of Wellex, a health care firm devoted to offering private, discreet STD testing to thousands of customers across 48 states.Wellex’s services allow customers to avoid what Shannon calls the embarrassment factor. "Nobody wants to sit across from their doctor, look them in the eye, and tell them what’s going on.” Instead, customers are able to use samedaystdtesting.com, a site operated by Wellex, to locate nearby testing centers, visit the center discreetly, then receive results from an expert over the phone. While the product Wellex offers might be sensitive to some, Shannon does not hesitate to step forward and say: “STD testing is what we do. We’re proud of that.”
“A friend of mine started this in their garage nine years ago, when there really weren’t many people on the scene doing this,” Shannon says. She invested in the company early on but didn’t actively participate in the operations of the company for the first few years. “About three and a half years ago, I had an opportunity to be a buying partner, and that’s when I came on as CEO.” In that transition, Shannon found her superpower: helping people understand the importance of STD testing and offering them a solution that is private and easy.
“I was introduced by Jeff Linihan, one of our business partners, who was operating in the same building as SwipeSum,” Shannon recalls, “Jeff said that he wanted to introduce me to a new contact who helps merchants find credit card processors. At first, I thought ‘Oh, great, someone else pitching to me,’ but for us, it made a lot of sense. Because we don’t see the end user, all our transactions are done over the phone with credit cards. So, when Jeff introduced me, I was interested.”
“To be honest, we already had great rates. We went through the process, and it came out that SwipeSum could save us a little money. Not a huge amount, but we were saving. What really sold me, though, was the chargeback protection. We don’t get a lot of chargebacks, but when we do, people typically push back really hard on them. Again, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be frustrating. The processor that SwipeSum found for me has been a really good advocate for me as a merchant. They’ve been great about understanding our business and giving us a lot of feedback when I feel stuck with those chargebacks.”“And, the process with SwipeSum was quick. It wasn’t more than a couple weeks, but I think it only took that long because of me. We are a small company, and we’re all pushing the broom, so I can’t always get to administrative tasks as quickly as I’d like to. Even so, the process was very, very easy.”
“If you’re in a new business, just be careful when looking for a credit card processor. So many companies will say, ‘sure, we can get you started at this great rate,’ but then they turn out to be like balloon loans and within a few months, your rates are going up. As a growing business, you can’t have your rates go up. You need those rates going down or staying the same so you know how to budget. When I forecast six months out, I have a good idea what my credit card processing fees are going to be. And, if I’m facing a loss, I know I have the ability to negotiate those rates. People need to realize that they’re not stuck. Don’t be afraid to shop around. Find someone who’s transparent about what fees you’ll face. That’s what’s so great about SwipeSum – they’ll look at what I have and tell me if it’s really good, or if there’s a better opportunity out there for me. Business owners really need to take advantage of that opportunity.”
“One of my struggles is networking. When you’re in a small business, it takes effort to get out of the office and meet the big players in your industry. That was a goal I set for myself this year, to trust the team I’ve built, step out, and try to explore what else is out there for us. It’s so easy to get inundated and wrapped up in your day-to-day, but you’re doing yourself and your team a favor to step out and see what others in your industry are doing.”“Business trends in general won’t always apply – imagine if an STD testing company tried to get people to like and share Facebook posts like a lot of other brands do. Believe it or not, Facebook is actually big for us, but it’s in the click-to-call function. You really have to know the trends in your industry, and also, don’t be afraid to spend a little money pursuing them. You’ve got to be confident in spending money, because if you can’t spend money, you can’t make money.”
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