PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. -- The business world continues to change at warp speed. For small businesses, however, one thing remains constant: the importance of good relationships.
This is especially true at a time when corporations are getting larger and even significant clients are being driven to a computer or phone for “customer service.” Small business owners know that building relationships with customers is crucial to their success. It’s also based on building relationships with vendors, such as your banker.
"After serving the financial needs of small and mid-sized businesses for many years at Tompkins Mahopac Bank, I’ve learned that the best relationships come from the trust that’s based on frequent and honest communication as well as personal contact," said Ron Ferri, Vice President and Small Business Lending Manager.
So how do you develop a good relationship with your banker? Here are some recommendations:
- Talk and meet with your banker as often as you can. As a business owner you deserve regular meetings. Schedule them quarterly or at least twice a year. Face to face meetings – they don’t have to be long – give you the opportunity to update your banker on what’s going on and to ask questions. Feel free to call him or her simply to discuss an idea you have. They can provide valuable feedback based on the many clients they’ve worked with.
- Give your banker a good sense of your day-to-day operations and your future plans. A relationship-focused banker wants to understand all of your business, not just book the loan and move on to the next customer. Let them know ahead of time if you’re planning to hire new staff, thinking about purchasing new equipment or want to expand your physical operations.
- All businesses encounter problems at some point. If you see a potential problem ahead, don’t be afraid to tell your banker. They have helped customers work through problems before and can recommend strategies to preserve equity and cash flow.
- Introduce your banker to other members of your management team. Get them comfortable with each other. As a small business owner, it’s good to have another senior person who can work with the bank when you’re not available.
- Provide timely and accurate financial information, most importantly your income statement, balance sheet, and monthly and year-to-date expense reports. You and your banker need this knowledge to determine your financing needs. Without it, you may be making a profit now, but you won’t have the information you need to make good decisions for the future.
Finally, think of your banker as a member of your team, not as a “necessary evil.” The bankers at Tompkins Mahopac Bank invest a lot more than money in their clients. They want them to succeed, because it’s good business and it benefits both parties, which are the hallmarks of a good relationship.