Buddy Up

Forming business relationships

Forming lasting business relationships.

Quick, what's your banker's name? When is her birthday? How many kids does he have?

If you're committed to the success of your business, you'll know thatinformation. A friendly relationship with your banker is an important asset foryour company--not only because capital is crucial for your success, but alsobecause your business can benefit from free or low-cost services such as a lineof credit with no collateral, checking accounts, safe-deposit boxes, creditcards, notary and other legal and paralegal services, no-fee payroll deposit(if you have employees), and even loans at preferred rates that often aregranted on just a handshake.

How do you become more than a number to a bank? Once you've chosen a financialinstitution that provides the range and quality of services important to yourbusiness, make an appointment with the manager (if it's a branch or a smallerbank) or the officer in charge of your business account (if it's a major bank).At the meeting:

* Provide the officer with your business plan, brochures, business cards andanything else that will give him or her a feel for your business.

* Describe your business, financial situation and plans.

* Welcome any feedback and advice.

* Discuss what role the bank might play in your future.

* Ask about the scope of the bank's services.

* Broach the subject of consolidating both your business and personal accountsat that office.

* Express interest in your banker's background. Ask about his or her family,hobbies and aspirations.

Follow up with periodic phone calls, visits and lunches. Make sure that allyour dealings with the bank are totally honest. Once your accounts have beenestablished, keep your banker fully informed of your financialsituation--whether good and bad. (Bankers hate surprises.) Be aware, too, thatnot all banks like small businesses. Choose one that does, even if it meansbanking in another community or another state.