How to Become a Prepaid Wireless Dealer
I’ve been in the prepaid business for over two years and in the wireless business for far longer. I often get asked how I became a prepaid dealer, and I am surprised that not more people do the same.
The funny thing is, it’s easier to become a prepaid dealer than people think.
It’s a lot of hard work, but if you do your research and set yourself up right, prepaid dealing can be a great way to earn additional income for yourself and your family. And if you’ve got the knack for it, it can even be your main source of income, just like it is for me.
But getting started as a prepaid dealer can be incredibly confusing if you don’t know where to begin. To help you out, I’ve made an in depth guide on how you can sign up to be a prepaid wireless dealer.
STEP 1. Find Out What Prepaid Carriers Are Popular In Your Area
Not all prepaid carriers are made equal, especially when it comes to both service and coverage.
Before signing up to be a prepaid dealer, you need to know which carriers are worth dealing with in your area.
You can start by asking yourself these four simple questions.
What prepaid carriers are advertising in your area?
Are you seeing any local billboards or television advertisements? This probably means that the carrier in question has some significant presence there. This is a good sign on whether that carrier is investing money into your area.
How is the signal strength of the carriers?
Weak signal strength and bad network coverage are deal breakers for customers, so it’s best you make sure that your intended carrier(s) have good quality service in your area.
What carriers are being used by the locals?
The best way to find out what carriers are popular is by simply asking around what carriers people subscribe to. But don’t just settle for your friends and family (who will probably be on the same network), go out of your comfort zone and ask people who you wouldn’t normally talk to otherwise. Getting a feel for the subscriber base is one way of doing market research as a prepaid dealer.
Are there prepaid retailers already in your neighborhood/area?
If there are already dealers in your area, then that means that there’s demand for the carrier, which is good a thing. Unfortunately, that also means that you’ll have competition. Some carriers don’t allow it though.
Dealers with carrier exclusivity have the right to a certain amount of territory to ensure that dealers don’t fight over the same turf. So if there’s a dealer selling exclusively in your area, that means you can’t put up shop nearby (which is usually in a 15 mile radius).
STEP 2. Decide Whether You Want to Be an Exclusive Dealer or Offer Multiple Carriers
On that note, it’s time to decide whether you want to be deal exclusively with one carrier, or with a lot of them. Once you’ve researched your area, make a short list of possible carriers you’re willing to deal with.
From there, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll want to be an exclusive or multicarrier dealer.
Exclusive Prepaid Dealer
An exclusive prepaid dealer sells the products of only a single carrier. In exchange, an exclusive dealer receives more perks from their carrier. This means higher commissions, more focused marketing efforts and access to more phones and marketing material. This also assures them of territory no other exclusive dealer can touch. That means less competition and more chances of a sale.
Unfortunately, this severely limits the amount of products you can offer to your customers. It also slaps you with a hefty monthly quota. And should your carrier slip in terms service quality, you’ll be stuck peddling bad products. But if you’re carrier is consistently good, competitive and supportive of their dealers, you’ll earn far more per transaction.
Multicarrier dealers carry more products than their exclusive counterparts. They earn less per transaction, don’t have exclusive territory, but they make up for it by offering far more options to their customers.
This makes you less reliant on a single carrier while giving you better security for the future. This allows you to “mix and match” your product offerings to use the strengths of some carriers to cover the weakness of others.
Selling a carrier with great value plans but low coverage area? Find one that has better coverage for a slightly more expensive price point. Selling a lot of cheap talk and text plans but little to no data services? Signup with a carrier that has high data caps and unlimited talk and text services.
I personally recommend that you consider taking in at least one MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) per major carrier. MVNOs are also carriers, but since they can’t afford their own network, they pay leasing fees to the major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile) in exchange for the right to use their network.
Because of this, Verizon MVNOs are directly affected by Verizon’s network, AT&T MVNOs are affected by AT&T’s network and so on. The same goes for any restrictions and limitations imposed by the major carrier, in the same way a landlord might impose on a tenant.
Here’s a table of all the MVNOs and their respective carriers:
|AT&T||AirVoice Wireless||H2O Wireless||Red Pocket Mobile|
|Black Wireless||Jolt Mobile||SkyView Wireless|
|Fuzion Mobile||NET10 Wireless||Straight Talk|
|SPRINT||Boost Mobile||i-wireless||NET10 Wireless|
|EcoMobile||KDDI Mobile||PrepaYd Wireless|
|good2GO Mobile||Mingo Wireless||Republic Wireless|
|Ring Plus, Inc||Toto Communications||Zing PCS|
|Shaka Mobile||Virgin Mobile USA|
|Straight Talk||Votel Mobile|
|T-MOBILE||LYCAMOBILE||Roam Mobility||Straight Talk|
|NET10 Wireless||SIMPLE Mobile||Ultra Mobile|
|PTEL Mobile||Solavei||Walmart Family Mobile|
|Ready SIM||Spot Mobile|
|VERIZON||Next G Mobile||Straight Talk|
|Page Plus Cellular||TalkForGood|
If you have updated data to keep this information accurate please submit it here.
STEP 3. Find a Master Agent that Carries Your Prepaid Carrier of Choice
When signing up to be a prepaid dealer, you don’t actually go to the carrier itself. Instead, you sign up with Master Agents.
Carriers work with Master Agents in the same way Master Agents work with prepaid dealers. But since Master Agents provide different perks and quality of service, it’s important to find the best one for you.
Check Around for the Best Deal
There should be a good number Master Agent in your region, each offering a different set of terms, packages and rates. Don't simply settle for the first one you come by. Do some scouting and compile a list of the things you like/don't like about the Master Agent.
Find Out What Other Prepaid Dealers Think
Getting in touch with other prepaid dealers is a lot harder than one might think, especially since there’s no directory for prepaid dealers (which is why we put one up). But it’s important to know if a Master Agent is as good as their word. You can ask a Master Agent directly for dealers they continue to work with. Some important questions to ask:
- Do they pay on time?
- Do they pay what they say?
- Do they answer their phones quickly?
- Do they answer emails quickly?
- Do they have the resources to support you if you run into problems?
- Do they have the experience and track record to prove their claims?
STEP 4. Decide on What Package Will Work Best For Your Business
Master Agents offer a variety of start-up packages, that way it's easy for you to pick one that matches your budget and your requirements.
This will be your first set of inventory, so remember to pick carefully.
Here are just some of the most common packages you can pick from:
Purchase sim cards and receive higher commission/residuals (Pay for shipping).
You can opt to buy sim cards for as much as $0.25 to $5.00 each. This will earn you the highest commissions and residual percentage. However, this is usually exclusive of shipping costs, which you’ll need to shoulder on your own.
Get free sim cards but receive lower commissions (Pay for shipping).
Another option is to get a free supply of sim cards from your master agent any time you request them. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll be receiving lower commissions and lower residual percentage. This is a low risk but low return package that is still exclusive of any shipping fees that are incurred.
Get an unlimited annual package (Free shipping, unlimited sims).
Finally, master agents offer annual packages designed specifically for aggressive, high performance prepaid dealers that average about 25 activations each month. The package usual comes with an annual fee of $50 to $200, but with an unlimited amount of sims at your disposal, you’ll be able to offset that cost as long as you hit your sales targets consistently. Annual packages also come with an outside flat, banners, posters, window stickers, brochures and display cases to help promote your dealership. On top of that, you get free shipping for the whole year.
STEP 5. Apply to Your Chosen Master Agent
Once you’ve settled on a Master Agent, it’s time to send in your application.
The application process differs from agent to agent but here are the usual steps when applying:
Get Your Documents In Order
This includes business licenses, reseller permits, personal identification materials, a picture of your storefront (if necessary) and, of course, the application form. A good Master Agent should be able to provide you with a handy checklist of the things you need so you can tick them off as you go along.
Wait for Approval
Once you’ve submitted your documents, the Master Agent should get back to soon with their approval. This can take anywhere from a single day to a couple of weeks. If you haven’t heard back from them in that amount of time, don’t hesitate to follow-up.
Receive Your Start-Up Package
This is package that you decided on in the previous step. Make sure to double check all the items you’ve received to make sure there is nothing missing.
Get Trained On the Activation Process and on the Software
All carriers provide software to help you take tabs on your transactions and your inventory. Not all Master Agents provide training; but the best ones do. They are normally just an hour or two, which consist of either videos or live chats. Make sure to make the most out of the training and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Signup with a Pin Portal
A pin portal is where you buy additional airtime refill pins for extra phone activations and bill payments. You can find the best ones online or you can ask your Master Agent for recommendations. Either way, a pin portal is essential in making sure you have steady stream of refills for your business.
Put up your marketing material in your store front, lay out your products, and you’ll be ready to go. Remember, you’ll need to advertise so that customers will know that you’re now a prepaid dealer.
As a prepaid dealer myself, I can vouch that it’s a lucrative business if you spend the time to learn about it and put in the work required. Becoming a prepaid dealer is a big decision, and can quickly turn into a profitable source of income, so weigh your options carefully.
The wireless market is seeing massive growth in the prepaid area, so there’s no better time to be a dealer than right now.
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