The rewards of relationship banking go beyond the obvious financial savings. It’s common knowledge that, depending on the size of company funds within a bank, you may be able to get higher rates on your long-term deposits and lower rates on your borrowing.
Many business owners may however fail to communicate with their bank on regular basis, which means missing out on a valuable, free resource. For example, the Valdosta, Georgia branch of Ameris Bank allows business account holders to be featured in a Business Spotlight display prominently placed at the front entrance of the bank. Other ideas come in the form of solutions for efficiency and a regular evaluation of your business and financial strategy. To take advantage of you banker’s true role as a consultant, you must start by forming and maintaining a strong relationship. At the heart of this relationship should be trust and communication.
At least once a year, a business owner should sit down with his or her banker to review the products and services being used. Perhaps the business is paying fees for a product rarely used, or technology has advanced and greater efficiency is available. A conversation to review your experience with your banker can help you tackle ways to save money and time. Impacts like checking account overdraft fees have the potential to be waived as a courtesy, depending on your banking relationship. You are also able to discuss ways to become exempt from common monthly maintenance fees, which are generally only charged when accounts fail to meet a minimum deposit requirement.
At BridgeBuilder Education & Investments, we interviewed several banks before choosing Ameris Bank. We made our decision, not only based on the products they had to offer, but the attention and personal value that everyone in the bank gave to us. After nearly a year in our relationship, we continue to feel that we are treated as a highly-valued customer. As a result, we are able to share the following benefits of a good banking relationship.
Higher Level of Customer Service
We are not the biggest client for our bank. However, we feel like we are getting a very high level of customer service each time we step into the building. Because our bank has a focus on Small Business, we are able to take advantage of products and services targeted specifically to small business owners.
Because of their business connection and insight, we are able to discuss financial and banking challenges they may see small businesses facing and creative ways to mitigate those potential issues.
Long-term Insight and Planning
Belonging to a bank that is familiar with your business status and history can also be extremely helpful when it comes to planning for your company’s future. For instance, our relationship with the local Ameris Bank branch allows for a more proactive role related to various business scenarios and concerns. The face-to-face relationship allows us to visit and discuss opportunities that may enhance our business’ financial position, provide risk aversion, and increase opportunities.
Key Business Partner
The professionals within your bank network with a wide variety of businesses and clients. Therefore, your bank can be a valuable resource in connecting with other leads. Your bank is exposed to many different corporate strategies, management teams and financial models. Develop a good relationship and reap the benefit from your bank's advice and expertise. By capitalizing on your banker’s knowledge and contacts, you can find prospective vendors and partners that may be a good fit with your business. Your banker should also be an active member in your local chamber of commerce. Ours definitely is very engaged with the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.
Just as your business banker can point you in the direction of the right CPA or Real Estate Agent, they can also point potential customers and clients in your direction. A testimonial from your business banker can help you find new customers and break into new markets.
Routinely have the discussion with your bank about your financial goals. Evaluate these throughout the calendar year with formal meetings – either with in-person or phone conversations. I would not recommend email as a method of discussion. A face-to-face, personal connection helps build a strong long-term relationship and impression. These regular visits provide a great opportunity to assess your business needs and, if they have changed, make any necessary adjustments. Your banking relationship can be an integral part in helping you build and execute a strategy to grow your business and reach your financial objectives.
A good banking relationship can help you effectively manage and grow your business. Take time to find the right bank for your company. Then, be proactive and foster the relationship to get the most out of it so that your bank can be in your corner when you need it to be. The more information, ideas, and forecasts your bank representative has about your business, the better equipped he or she will be to advocate for you, defend your company, and ensure the bank's continued support for you.
DeWayne Johnson, PMP (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Co-Founder and Business Management Consultant with BridgeBuilder Education & Investments, which provides consulting for businesses interested in ways to improve process, strategy, leadership, and staff development. For more information, please visit www.bridgebuilderinvestments.com.
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