You tend to get your first loan wherever you can. A lot of the time, that’s a bank that lends nationally, especially with franchises. But the real bank you want to use for your operations from that point forward is an entirely different bank. The big banks have their place, but at a community bank or a smaller regional bank, you may actually get to know the president or members of the board. That bank may be the right size for you, especially if they’re willing to lend you money for additional units. After you’ve been with them a year, that’s a fair question. Go in and say, ‘This is my plan. I’m going to need money here and here. Is that something I could come to you for?’ If they say yes, you’ve hit the home run. If they say no, well you, you might want to look for another bank, but you can’t judge them until you give them enough data. You need to know your banker and leverage that professional relationship, just like you would your account or your lawyer. Don’t let the first time they see you be when you’re going in with a life or death need. What happen with the PP is just one instance. A good banker can make you a lot of money, and not just on the finance side of it. They can make valuable introductions. But the key is building the relationship.
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