I’m not telling you to put a banker on your payroll. Here’s what I mean. If you own a small business, or even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, you’ll do better if you have an informal advisory committee helping you and cheering you on from the wings. These helpers might be your attorney, your accountant and your father-in-law who made so much money in the car wash business.
These are your advisers – and you’re in the habit of running ideas past them over lunch or on the phone once or twice a week. You appreciate that they have valuable experience you don’t have. You benefit from picking their brains – even if they don’t send you customers or lend you cash when you’re running low.
This group – along with your business partners or top employees – is your team.
Why not add a banker to your team?
Here are two scenarios.
Your company uses one of the main banks in your community. You have a line of credit, a checking account and a business credit card. No matter how small your bank is, chances are that one officer, out of several, is responsible for the bank’s relationship with your company.
How did this particular officer get assigned to you? When you first started with that bank, an automatic system probably assigned someone to be your account officer. How did that work out?
You’ve never talked with the bank officer about your business. Whenever you try to see him to ask a question, he seems busy and acts annoyed. He’s not doing you any good. He’s not on your team.
Your business is doing well and you decide to open an account at a second bank. You mention this to your attorney and your accountant. They like the idea.
Your accountant knows the manager of a new bank branch that happens to be close to your office. He offers to introduce you.
You tell your attorney about this. She has another client who uses that branch and is always singing the praises of his account officer. You make a note of the officer’s name.
You call the branch manager, mention your accountant’s name and ask for an appointment. You have a good meeting. When the time comes to open accounts, you mention that you’ve heard great things about one of his officers. You’d like her to be assigned to your account. He’s happy to hear some praise about one of his people and calls her over to meet you.
What have you done?
You’ve taken a proactive approach to setting up your new banking relationship. Rather than wandering in to the new bank and being shepherded to the desk of whichever officer is “up” next, you’ve taken charge of the process.
Instead of being just another business customer of the branch, you’re “somebody.” You came in the right way. You “hired” an account officer based on her good reputation. She has all the potential of becoming a valuable member of your team.
Starting a banking relationship isn’t the same as buying a pair of socks. Do it the right way and you increase your chances for a mutually rewarding banking relationship. If need be, use your network to help you find that ideal banker. Ask around.