After working with small business owners (SBOs) for over a year, I have realized there are more resources available to them than I had originally thought. Unfortunately, many of these resources are provided by local organizations that have miniscule marketing budgets relative to larger competitors; and hence, go unnoticed. Community banks are an example of local organizations that offer several value-added services to SBOs. Although community banks have fewer branches than large national banks, there are a few fundamental differences that make community banks a more compelling option for SBOs.
Mass Banking vs. Relationship Banking
Large national banks are setup to serve a mass and diverse set of clients in the most efficient way possible. As a result, they use technology to automate their services, especially with smaller clients. Community banks compete with larger national banks by focusing their efforts on providing one-on-one customer service to their clients. Robert Villaseñor, Vice President at ProAmerica Bank, explains “I have a personal and consultative relationship with my clients. They’re not just a number. My clients even vent to me when they struggle with something.”
Work with an Experienced Banker
Community banks heavily rely on the relationships of their bankers to drive sales. As a result, community banks are more likely to invest in experienced bankers to better engage and service clients. Not only do community bankers advise clients on banking services but they also connect SBOs with resources and people outside of the bank to help their clients succeed. Furthermore, gray haired bankers have experienced several economic cycles and are better equipped to provide business advice to their clients.
More Likely to Get a Loan
Getting your first business loan can be more of an art than a science. One tip to improving your chances is building a relationship with the people that are going to give you the money. According to the Federal Reserve 2014 Small Business Credit Survey, community banks approved 59% of loan applicants compared to a 31% approval rate by large national banks.