This is the 6th in a continuing series of articles from Ron’s newest book, Getting To Yes With Your Banker, which includes 93 secrets you likely didn’t know about dealing with your banker. Presented in a Click and Clack format, from an entrepreneur’s and a lender’s perspective, the book is co-authored by Ron Sturgeon, a serial entrepreneur, and Greg Morse, founder and president of Worthington National Bank, a community bank with 4 locations throughout Tarrant County.
The book is packed with tips and advice about how to choose and get along with a banker, what your banker wants to see and other valuable tips for both start ups and existing businesses. In the previous article, we covered courting a banker with the right experience. In this article, we will cover ways to expand your banking relationships and the key people you should get to know at the bank.
Expanding Your Banking Relationships
Greg: You also want to know more folks at the bank than just your loan officer. You want to know some people in management. Don’t just know your banker; get to know your banker’s boss.
Ron: The chief credit officer is another person you should always get to know.
Greg: You need to have a lot of relationships within your bank. Otherwise, if your banker dies, gets hit by a truck or moves away, you’re back to square one. If you’re not dealing with the vice president or above, you are probably dealing with the wrong person. But don’t treat that person badly; you just need to create more relationships within the bank to get to the right person. It’s important to treat the tellers and secretaries with respect. They’ve got the ear for the people you need to do business with, and if you don’t treat them right, you aren’t going to get anywhere. Just like your staff talks about clients, regardless of the appropriateness of that, the bank staff talks about their clients. If you are gruff and unsociable, it’s going to color all decisions about your relationship. Work on making people like you and want to help you. Make them look good. They will make you look good, and in the end, everyone looks good.
Ron: That’s something to keep in mind. You want to meet the people there — the lending officer, the credit officer and all the other officers you can. And, you have to know that you’re comfortable with the way they’re going to treat you. The classiest banker I ever knew was a guy named Jim Murray, who worked at Summit Bank. When I met with him, we always sat at the round table in his office. He never met with me from behind his desk. He’s the only banker I’ve ever known who did that. It goes back to the relationship. It was a philosophy of his I guess. Because typically the banker sits behind his desk to meet with people and some bankers, I think they use that as a kind of intimidating factor.
Greg: They absolutely do. In fact, years ago, banks kept the bankers’ desks elevated so the banker would always be looking down at the customer. It’s a small, subtle thing, but it was intimidating.
Ron: My point is that Jim had a good bedside manner. It’s important to have someone like that on your side. On the other hand, I once had a banker introduce me to The Golden Rule: He said that since he had the gold, he’d make the rules. That’s not the kind of relationship you want.
Ron: I once knew a guy on the board of directors of a bank I was doing business with, and every time my loans came up, he just beat my loan application and my butt. He didn’t like me; he didn’t like my loans; he didn’t like my business. Finally, the loan officer whom I knew at the bank let me know that this same guy always questioned my loans. So I asked my loan officer to set up a meeting. The loan officers brought him out, and we all went to lunch together. After that, he was my biggest advocate. Once he realized that I knew my business and knew what I was doing, he liked me. It changed my entire relationship with that bank.
In the next article, we will consider whether size matters in choosing a bank.
Ron Sturgeon, business owner, consultant and peer bench marketing leader, combines over 35 years of entrepreneurship with an extensive resume in consulting, speaking and business writing. Ron can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, 817-834-3625 or by email at rons@MrMissonPossible.com.