When you’re busy building your dream, it’s easy to forget the perks of a solid rapport with your banker.
Maybe you had a great small business specialist at your bank, but you lost touch with each other. Or despite your best intentions, you never returned the bank’s calls after you opened your accounts. In either case, it’s never too late to improve your business banking relationship.
Put these items on your to-do list or include them as part of your organization’s procedures:
1. Start with a meeting.
As much as the business world relies on calls and emails, there’s nothing like an initial face-to-face connection. Make an appointment to meet with a relationship manager at the branch or at your office. During that discussion, you can deliver your extended elevator pitch or new-business presentation. Be sure to discuss your business model, value proposition and target market(s).
This one-on-one better positions your banker to advise you and suggest new banking products and services that can save your business time and money, such as electronic payment systems, wire services, etc. And the more extensive your account relationship is, the more likely you are to get lower fees and other advantages.
2. Commit to regular check-ins and updates.
A dedicated relationship manager should be reaching out to you regularly. But in any case, be proactive in planning a quarterly sit-down to review receivables, payables, assets, and your balance sheet. (This is a required exercise at some financial institutions.) Publicize your recent successes and share your challenges.
Case in point: You may need seasonal or contingency-based employees, but you’re not sure how you should incorporate them into your financial operations. Your banker may be able to suggest appropriate services that either the bank or its business partners offer (such as payroll processing and ACH services).
3. Be a matchmaker.
Introduce your bookkeeper, controller or CFO. Though you should own the banking relationship, your small business banker may appreciate having a finance-focused peer in the relationship.
4. Plant seeds for future needs.
Being candid about operational challenges helps your banker learn useful information about your business that they just can’t glean from a spreadsheet. It’s also a trust-builder between you.
For example, a recent revenue spike may be part of your tour-bus company’s unusual calendar. When you share this information in the context of creating a proactive plan to ensure uninterrupted cash flow, it may open the door to a later conversation about alternatives, including a line of credit with terms that are sensitive to your business cycles.
5. Go the distance.
Though you’re the customer, building a business relationship is a two-way street. Don’t forget to put your banker on your firm’s holiday gift giving list, or when their birthday comes along. Give her or him good referrals. These gestures contribute to a cordial, trusting business friendship.
6. Tap your banker’s privileged POV.
Your banker offers a unique vantage point. As a small business banker, he or she witnesses the successes and failures of your business peers. Though confidentiality is a must, the big-picture aspects of their work with other small business can inform their advice to you. They may even be able to suggest potential alliances with other businesses, based on their knowledge and analysis.
When you make it your firm’s business to establish a close banking relationship, the results can save you time and money and help you move forward with your entrepreneurial dream.
To get started on a new relationship with your M&T Business Banking relationship manager, visit a branch or call 1-800-724-6070.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.