When to consider switching banks for your business

November 23, 2020

Here are the features that made one small business owner transfer his banking services.

 

When the pandemic began earlier this year, many businesses throughout the country were faced with all kinds of challenges, from customers staying home to the urgent need to put effective safety measures in place. For some, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) presented a solution that would enable them to keep their business open while also continuing to cover essential costs when it otherwise would have been nearly impossible to do so.

For Dr. Michael Thomas, working with U.S. Bank to receive PPP funding was an essential part of his dental operation staying in business, and the ease of the process even led him to switch banks. Having a positive or negative interaction like this one might prompt you to reevaluate where you’re currently banking and whether it’s a good fit – but there’s never a bad time to reflect on the services that you’re seeking out from your bank. Dr. Thomas outlines a few of the reasons why he chose to transfer his banking relationship, and the features he enjoys most.

 

Finding support through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

When Dr. Thomas was in the process of seeking PPP funding, he encountered several roadblocks with his original bank. Processing was slow, and he wasn’t sure he would be able to receive the loan he needed to effectively continue his dental operation. “I got the invite to fill out the [application] and submitted it,” says Dr. Thomas. “Two or three days later, I got a note from my accountant saying the the SBA’s running out of money. I was somewhat discouraged because I had waited for close to a month since hearing of the program.”

Dissatisfied with his original bank’s slow responsiveness, Dr. Thomas started thinking about alternative options. That’s when he considered working with his personal bank instead of his business bank. He received an invitation from U.S. Bank to submit an application for the PPP and made the decision to move forward, knowing how much he could benefit from it. Once he decided to apply for the PPP through U.S. Bank, things moved quickly.

“[The PPP] was just going to be an incredibly helpful tool for me to relaunch my business when it was allowed to open again,” he says. “That night the approval came through, I was almost in tears because I thought this was such a lifeline for my business to be able to participate.”

Being able to participate in the PPP made the difference between staying open and closing his practice. Despite the initial issues with his bank, receiving the funding to keep his doors open and cover essential costs was a real win during such an uncertain economic period. Through the program, he was able to pay employees, increase inventory, replenish depleted supplies and purchase personal protective equipment (PPE). Because of this smooth process, he decided to switch his business banking relationship to U.S. Bank.

While completing the PPP application with U.S. Bank, Dr. Thomas found three key features that improved his experience and led him to reconsider where he banks.

“[The PPP] was just going to be an incredibly helpful tool for me to relaunch my business when it was allowed to open again. That night the approval came through, I was almost in tears.”

Tips for seeking a new bank 

  • User-friendly technology: While Dr. Thomas was in the process of applying for PPP, he found that the application platform was particularly easy to navigate, which made for a seamless user experience. Once he entered his information online, “it was just one step, and it submitted,” he says. During the process, “it was interactive questions versus some big PDF form that I had to fill in the blanks for, so that was really nice.” This format of being asked questions in the online form was an interactive experience that saved time and allowed him to easily complete his task. 
  • Timely customer service: Being able interact with a business banker when needed was another important element in Dr. Thomas’ decision to transfer his business banking. He cites the helpful and responsive nature of the U.S. Bank employees in his reasoning to switch over from the previous institution. “I would send an email and it would be answered within hours, which was not an experience I had had for quite a few years with my previous bank,” he says. “I wasn't used to having my phone call answered right away.” This new expectation of having people reply to emails, answer phones and return voicemails has made a positive difference for Dr. Thomas and his business. 
  • Low interest rates: Financially, finding a bank with a low interest rate for large purchases can also be an important factor in the decision on whether to switch banks. Dr. Thomas had purchased some expensive essential equipment at the end of 2019, and after several months of no interest, he was dealing with a high rate, which was an additional factor that led him to reconsider where he banked. “I wasn't satisfied with the interest rate provided by my past bank, and then I started exploring the business relationship [with U.S. Bank],” he says. “They beat the rate of my previous bank that I was quoted. I said, this is a no-brainer, this is the bank I want go with.”
     

Where you choose to manage your banking relationship can impact many different aspects of business, from programs and services to, the expertise and support around financial decisions, and even interest rates on purchases. No matter where you bank, Dr. Thomas suggests working with someone who’s a specialist in your industry. “There are specialists in dentistry and I’m sure there are other industries out there that have somebody focused on that industry,” says Dr. Thomas. Be sure to assess your compatibility with your current bank from time to time to make sure you’re making the most of the banking experience so that your business can succeed.

 

Continue reading more stories about how small business owners navigated unprecedented times.

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