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Strong Banker Relationship Crucial for Small Businesses
A strong banker relationship has never been more important for a small business, especially in today's highly competitive business environment. Banks offer more products and services than ever before. From checking accounts to merchant services to business loans and more, banks are able to provide the financial tools needed to help small businesses stay ahead of the competition.
In many situations, small business bankers review monthly statements and financial transactions to suggest products and services that may benefit their small business customers. However, taking the time to discuss your business in detail will help your banker identify the best options for your particular needs and begin to lay the foundation for a strong relationship. It's important for small business owners to be proactive in building an effective relationship with their banker.
Select the right bank
For a small business, a strong banker relationship starts with choosing the right bank. Shop around online, ask friends and peers, and find a bank that offers the financial products and services you need today. Consider the needs of your business in the future and be sure the bank you select can support those as well.
Location may be a factor for everyday convenience in routine transacting with the bank, such as making deposits, but don't let that be the only factor. These days, the nearest branch may be in your hand - via your mobile phone.
Meet with a banker
Once you identify the best bank for you, it's time to meet with a banker. Scheduling an appointment beforehand is advisable so both you and the banker will have ample time to discuss your needs. During your meeting, let the banker know as much about your business as possible, which may include providing financial statements and business plans.
This initial conversation is very important because it helps the banker identify the most appropriate products and services for you so the new relationship can begin correctly. The banker also may have ideas on ways to make your business more efficient and even more competitive. Talk about your personal accounts so the banker can understand your commitment in exchange for the growth opportunities the bank will provide.
Seek regular feedback
Your business most likely will change over time, so meet with your banker regularly - at least once yearly - to discuss how things are going and seek feedback on how your company is doing. Based on your discussions, your banker will be able to determine if other professionals should be brought into the relationship, such as specialists in small business loans, credit card processing, treasury services, etc.
Let your banker know how you see your business growing in the future. This knowledge is crucial because as new bank products and services become available, your banker can keep you informed as to how they may benefit your business.
It also helps the banker become an advocate for your business when the time comes for loans and other products requiring an approval process. Because of their intimate knowledge of your business, the banker can help add "color" to what may otherwise be a black and white underwriting approval process.
Ask about how your bank is doing
Just as you're seeking feedback from your banker about how your company is faring, it's important to ask about your bank's performance and growth plans.
Maintaining good, two-way communication between you and your banker will help establish, grow and maintain a strong and effective relationship. Meeting on a routine basis and discussing your business is one of the best methods to further enhance the relationship. In fact, it may be one of the best things you'll ever do for your business.
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How Relationship Banking is Changing the Industry to the Advantage of Small Business Featured in Smart Business Magazine, December 2012