Are all banks alike?
Do you own or manage a small business? Then you know how important choosing the right bank is to your business. With the right banking relationship, doing business is faster, easier and more profitable, because your bank works for you, helping you put together the right combination of checking, lending, investments and merchant services.
The wrong bank can be a source of frustration and even cost your business money.
How can you make sure you choose the right bank for your business?
Analyze your present and future needs. Maybe you only need business checking right now, but what will you need in one or two years? Will you want to accept credit cards, add employees, obtain a line of credit, purchase equipment or buy a building? If so, include those activities on your list of needs.
Also consider how many transactions you have every month, both checks and deposits. Many banks offer a basic free business checking account, if you stay under their transaction limit.
Select several banks to evaluate. Ask business associates, friends and family members for recommendations.
Notice banks that have branches near your office or along your commute. Be sure to check the newspaper for advertised bank specials and features you are interested in.
Visit a branch. Stop by the branch you will do most of your banking in. Take a quick look around. Is it welcoming, friendly, are customers being waited on quickly? While you are there, pick up any brochures they have on business banking services. If you don't see the information, be sure to ask for it.
Review the literature. Once you have each bank's materials, you can compare the basic features and services. If you come across anything you don't understand, call the branch and ask for an explanation. Make a list of questions. Plan to ask the same questions at each bank so you can compare apples to apples.
Schedule an appointment. Plan to meet the business relationship manager at each bank on your list. Be prepared to visit several banks before you find one that makes you feel like your business is important to them. The staff should be friendly, interested in your company and even offer suggestions on how to manage your business banking and plan for future growth.
That's when you will know you have found the right bank for your business.
When you get right down to it, if the services and rates are very similar, it's really the people in the bank that make the difference. Use that as your criteria and you'll be confident that you've chosen wisely.
This article was submitted by Jeff Atwater, Riverside Bank president in Palm Beach County.