I agree 100% with what you've said. I'd also like to add that it's important to remember that you are a customer of the bank, and as such you deserve the same respect you give to your own customers. Banks should work to earn your business, just as any other business does.
A few years ago I was working hard to create the infrastructure I needed to efficiently support the growth my business was experiencing. I knew part of that meant I should start building a relationship with a good business bank to carry me into the future. I thought out what was important to me in a bank and then set appointments with a number of banks in my area.
I realized that any bank can offer free checking and other such services. I saw the real difference would come in how I was treated. I’ve experienced, and heard stories about, some banks treating individual and small business customers as if they are just inconveniences the bank has to put up with while they are working to get what they really want – the big accounts. I refused to bank with one of those institutions, so I sought out local banks with good reputations in my community.
When I met with each bank representative I told them that what I wanted was a relationship with a bank that would treat me with respect despite my small size. Some people may say this seems less than professional, but great relationships are based on things besides the dollars and cents in our accounts. I also told them what I had to offer. I presented them with a copy of my business plan executive summary, and I shared with them my passion for my industry and for operating a well-run business. I work hard to use best practices on the business side of my venture, not just to sell stuff, and I outlined some of the things I was doing to improve how we operate.
That was three plus years ago. This year I went to the bank to request a line of credit in case we need it to smooth out the cash flow bumps as our business expands this next year. (Like you said - before I need it.) The bank’s response? The commercial loan officer who had just taken over for my previous contact said that she has spoken highly of us. He also said he’d looked over our paperwork, that he was very impressed, and that he was excited about our future. Then he asked, “What can we do for you?” Then he promptly approved me for exactly the amount of money I asked for, explaining I could easily ask for twice that much and get it.
It seems strange to me to say that I look forward to going to my bank, even just to make a deposit. I’m serious; I really enjoy it! The bank I chose prides itself on its relationships, and I see it in how every person I’ve spoken with at every branch has treated me. My bank is local, but it is not small. And it is wonderful for me to say that there are still some good folks out there in the banking industry. You just have to be willing to look for them.