One thing that entrepreneurs have in common is that they are able to wear many hats and tackle the challenges associated with a variety of different job descriptions. No matter how flexible you are, however, it isn’t possible to be an expert in every facet of business.
This is why the most successful entrepreneurs are constantly seeking insider tips from all types of experts. Because finances are such a large part of a business’s success, Entrepreneur.com has gathered tips from a top banker that can undoubtedly give you useful tips for running your business.
Entrepreneur.com interviewed Maria C. Coyne for its Voices That Matter series. Coyne has expert insider information about small business banking because she is the executive vice president at a financial institution that was named one of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2012 Large 7(a) Lender of the Year. She gave the following tips that entrepreneurs can put into practice while managing their businesses.
Have big expectations from your financial institution
One of Coyne’s first tips is that entrepreneurs shouldn’t settle when it comes to having their needs respected by their financial institution.
“Business owners should expect their bankers to listen carefully and ask a lot of questions before making decisions or suggestions,” she states.
This is why it is a great idea to work with a small financial institution that is located in your business’s community. Small institutions have been shown to have a structure that allows them to truly listen to the needs of small business owners. Not only are they familiar with the community where the business is located, the people who hear your concerns are typically the same people who make decisions, compared to a large, impersonal chain of command at a larger national bank.
Good customer service creates loyalty
Coyne also advises entrepreneurs to focus on customer service. Although all employees are responsible for creating a positive customer service experience, great customer service starts with management.
“Great customer service starts with a leadership commitment to build a culture where customer service is an operating metric,” states Coyne. “You have to work at it.”
If your business’s customer service could use improvement, you can take a cue from the way that Coyne’s institution encourages and monitors customer service. “.. we train our staff, measure results and then reward performance,” states Coyne. “This means that customer service is part of our employee performance reviews. We do believe in the power one person has to make a positive impression on our customers.”
Use credit cards wisely
One way that you can utilize your financial institution to help your business operations flow more smoothly is to open a business credit card. Business credit cards can help when your cash flow is low and can help you jump on time-sensitive opportunities that require money up front.
“Credit cards can be very useful to business owners, provided that they're used responsibly,” states Coyne. “Small-business credit cards can also help business owners demonstrate a history of successfully paying business obligations with business funds rather than personal funds. It's a good stepping stone.”