1. A Bank That Understands (Their) Business
Business owners want a bank that can anticipate and meet their needs. This means a banker that takes the time to get to know their business: learning the ins and outs of their industry, visiting their premises for a tour, understanding seasonality (and other causes of revenue fluctuations), and exhibiting a genuine interest in their success.
It also means offering business-friendly products and services, such as discounted employee checking, equipment leasing, merchant services, payroll, insurance and retirement accounts. Small businesses also often look for banks that are comfortable working with the SBA guaranteed loan program — a key point for many businesses who may be concerned about their credit-worthiness.
2. A Little Thing Called Customer Service
Business owners want to know their business is important to their banker, and great customer service is the key to that. When they call with a question or concern, they want a prompt response, and when they visit the branch, they want to be able to sit down with their banker. Seeing a different face every time makes it difficult to build trust, which is essential to the business-banker relationship.
3. They Don’t Like Getting Nickel-and-Dimed
Certain banking fees are expected, such as a monthly fee for a checking account or a fee for a loan application. But when a business gets hit with a laundry list of unexpected service fees, it can be enough to spur business owners to take their banking relationships elsewhere. Fees for speaking with a live person on the phone, fees for “processing” or “document review,” research fees, photocopying fees, excessive withdrawal fees, and others can result in an exasperated customer that is ready to move on.
4. A Bank That’s There in Good Times… and Bad
When things are going well, a business owner wants to work with a bank that’s excited about their success and is ready to grow with them. They expect to be provided with the resources and services necessary to support their growth. On the flip side, when times are tough, businesses want a banker who is willing to work with them through the dark period and get them back on track. They need a banker who can guide the business along the best path for meeting loan payments, avoiding foreclosure, and maintaining good credit, as well as offering options such as forbearance and changes in loan terms should they become necessary.
5. Business Banks Have to Be Tech Savvy
In-person banking is still critical for many business owners, but banks that offer comprehensive online services will have an edge. In addition to the now-standard online banking services such as account management, services that offer tax and accounting assistance are a big draw for business owners. Making services such as business loan applications, payroll, making deposits and collecting payments available online helps business owners save time and money, and will encourage them to stick with the bank that offers them. (Hint: You may need a tablet app.)