Expanding your banking relationships
This is the seventh in a continuing series, co-authored
by Ron Sturgeon and Greg Morse, founder and president of Worthington
Greg: You also want to know more folks at
the bank than just your loan officer. You want to know some people
in management. Don’t just know your banker; get to know your
Ron: The chief credit officer is another
person you should always get to know.
Greg: You need to have a lot of relationships
within your bank. Otherwise, if your banker dies or gets hit
by a truck or moves away, you’re back to square one. If you’re
not dealing with the vice president or above, you are probably
dealing with the wrong person. But don’t treat that person badly;
you just need to create more relationships within the bank to
get to the right person. It’s important to treat the tellers
and secretaries with respect. They’ve got the ear of the people
you need to do business with, and if you don’t treat them right,
you aren’t going to get anywhere. Just like your staff talks
about clients, regardless of the appropriateness of that, the
bank staff talks about their clients. If you are gruff and unsociable,
it’s going to color all decisions about your relationship. Work
on making people like you and want to help you. Make them look
good. They will make you look good, and in the end everyone looks
Ron: That’s something to keep in mind. You
want to meet the people there – the lending officer, the credit
officer, and all the other officers you can. And you have to
know that you’re comfortable with the way they’re going to treat
you. The classiest banker I ever knew was a guy named Jim Murray,
who worked at Summit Bank. When I met with him, we always sat
at the round table in his office. He never met with me from behind
his desk. He’s the only banker I’ve ever known who did that.
It goes back to the relationship. It was a philosophy of his,
I guess. Because typically the banker sits behind his desk to
meet with people and some bankers, I think, use that as a kind
of intimidating factor.
Greg: They absolutely do. In fact, years
ago, banks kept the bankers’ desks elevated so the banker would
always be looking down at the customer. It’s a small, subtle
thing, but it was intimidating.
Ron: My point is that Jim had a good bedside
manner. It’s important to have someone like that on your side.
On the other hand, I once had a banker introduce me to The Golden
Rule: He said that since he had the gold, he’d make the rules.
That’s not the kind of relationship you want.
Ron: I once knew a guy on the board of directors
of a bank I was doing business with, and every time my loans
came up, he just beat up on my loan application. He didn’t like
me; he didn’t like my loans; he didn’t like my business. Finally,
the loan officer whom I knew at the bank let me know that this
same guy always questioned my loans. So I asked my loan officer
to set up a meeting. The loan officers brought him out and we
all went to lunch together. After that, he was my biggest advocate.
Once he realized that I knew my business and knew what I was
doing, he liked me. It changed my entire relationship with that
In the next article, we will consider whether
size matters in choosing a bank.
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Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA
Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with
140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas
Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002,
his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help
small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently
reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management
team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and
investments. You can learn more about him at WWW.autosalvageconsultant.com
He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, firstname.lastname@example.org or
817-834-3625 ext 6#.