The primary reason for establishing a relationship with a bank is efficiency. If you are a business owner who has an established history with a bank, that institution already has your profile and financial information on file. That means the bank can be more responsive to your needs whenever you want to open an account or apply for a loan. Here are three steps for businesses to create an effective relationship with a bank.
Select Your Partner Strategically
Be strategic about selecting your banking partner—before you need a loan. First, look for a local bank. The bankers there will understand the economic climate in your area, and they will be aware of the opportunities and challenges you face. In addition, they will offer local decision-making, which can expedite loan approvals. Make sure the bank has comprehensive business offerings—everything from simple deposit accounts to sophisticated lending and treasury services.
Connect with a banker who makes you feel welcomed, someone with whom you can develop a good rapport. Don’t hesitate to meet with another banker if the first one you meet is not a good fit. Make sure to ask questions to fully understand how the bank can help you. For example:
- Does your bank have experience working with businesses similar to mine?
- Can you tell me how you assisted one of those businesses?
- Which banking services do you recommend for my business?
- Will you explain how your loan process works and how quickly loans are approved?
Start Developing a Relationship
This could be accomplished by arranging a meeting with your banker to discuss your needs and learn more about the business banking services that interest you. Or you could begin nurturing a banking relationship by simply opening a deposit account. Then you can move forward from there by delving into the bank’s other offerings.
It’s always a good idea to stay in touch with your banker. For example, I speak with business clients two to four times a year to see if they will have any banking needs in the near-future. If a client expresses a desire to pursue a particular goal—such as building a new addition or working with a new supplier—I can be ready to respond quickly when banking services are needed.
Here is another important thing to note: There’s never a bad time to pursue a banking relationship! Don’t worry if your business doesn’t have a lot of money or a lengthy track record. Even a small startup business can begin nurturing a partnership with a local bank. PM
Laura Essex is vice president of commercial lending at Heartland Bank. For more information, call (309) 272-9600 or email LREssex@hbtbank.com.