For any bank you work with, you need to make sure they have all the services you’ll need for your business. Find out about business checking accounts, commercial loans and lines of credit, merchant accounts, night depository, bank statement format, and the commercial banking department. Find out if other businesses use the bank; you can find out from fellow business people whether a bank has the proper services for commercial accounts. Talking to other business people is a better way to gauge the service than simply reading through the bank’s prepared materials. Look for a bank that will work for your business both now and in the future, checking both fees and services.
Accentuating the Positive
When you are talking with representatives of different banks to learn about their business services, it’s important to focus on the positive. You don’t want to ask about the bank’s overdraft policy and charges right away. It sends a very bad signal to the bank: why are you in such a hurry to find out about the policy if your account will be in good standing? Banks want to avoid overdraft charges, and will be concerned about a customer whose first thought is drawn that way.
When problems do occur, be proactive and contact the bank manager. Explain that you’ve made an error and might be overdrawn, and ask if there’s any way you could have it covered until you make a deposit that day or the next. Make sure to explain that this is a rare occurrence for you. You can even ask if the overdraft charge could be reversed; the worst that can happen is the bank says, “No,” leaving you no worse off than before. Always focusing on the positive and not emphasizing problems with your business will help build a positive relationship with your bank.
Putting People First
Get to know the staff at the bank you choose. If there are multiple branches, try to use the same branch regularly, and open your account at the same branch where you will be doing your business. Always be friendly with everyone at the bank, from the tellers to the manager to the guard. You don’t have to overdo it, but just be natural. Learn people’s names, and thank bank employees every time. By remembering names and faces and acknowledging good service, employees will in turn remember you. Likewise, make sure the manager knows you’re a business customer by using the commercial transaction window. Always being polite and friendly will help build a strong banking relationship.
Getting Involved in the Community
Your bank can be a good entry point into larger community involvement. Bankers are usually very active in local community and business groups. If you’re new to the area and want to become a member of a particular organization, you can ask your bank manager to sponsor your membership. Community involvement can be a good source of free local publicity, so building a strong banking relationship can help you take advantage of that resource. Another tip to strengthen the relationship with your bank is to let them know if you hear about any new businesses in the area, because they will appreciate the leads for their own business.