From Professional Burger Flipper and Shake Maker to Small Business Banker
Burger flipping and shake making was my profession prior to getting into banking. I’m certain many business owners I work with today, either didn’t know that, nor would they think this would be of benefit to them now that I’m their banker.
Previous to entering the banking profession, I owned and operated two Culver’s Restaurants for eight years. I often times consider this my Masters Degree in Business Ownership. I guess the fact that it took me eight years to gain this “degree” provides me a great deal of perspective and knowledge to pass along to business owners today from the seat of a banker.
The perspective and knowledge I would love to share with business owners today in relationship to banking is how to make that relationship work for you. From the business plan, to working the daily grind, to setting up an exit plan, there are many things to consider from infancy to “The End”. Business owners are entrepreneurs. Banks are investors in risk and help manage your most important asset – CASH.
For a business owner, it’s extremely important to form relationships with “business partners” such as bankers, attorneys, wealth advisors and accountants. Several factors, such as cost, uncertainty, trust, or even a (false) sense of confidence, tend to prevent this from happening.
Bankers have a great deal of experience working with business owners; it’s what we do everyday. In my past, I felt the banker was just there to collect interest through loans, fees, and deposits – commodities that I could get anywhere. Was I ever wrong!! Like anything, there are good bankers and bad bankers. It’s your job to find the good banker and treat them as a partner and valuable resource to you. When getting started, growing, or looking for a way to wind down your business, you should look for a banker in whom you can trust and consult.
Let’s start with the beginning. Here are some things to consider. Do you need a loan (capital investment /money) from the bank? What deposit products make sense? How are you going to use to pay for supplies and cost of goods? Remember, attorneys charge for time, accountants charge for work rendered, and banks charge for providing loans (interest) and managing deposits (fees). Too often I hear business owners complain about cost associated with banking. These cost can often times be well worth the expense. And remember, you get what you pay for. Bank products and services come in different shapes and sizes to fit your needs. It’s more than just loans and checking accounts.
Here are more questions to ponder. Are you in need of mobile access via online banking? Are you accepting credit cards, cash, and/or checks for payments? A newer trend to the industry is payment options. Do you have a payments card or credit card? What electronic tools do you use for payroll? How long should it take for you to pay your loan back? What type of loan do you need? Will you need extra cash during the year? Will your business need to expand? What is your cost in accepting cash vs. taking credit cards for payments? Should you pay with paper checks or can you pay electronically?
Your banker should design services to meet your needs. Banks should be taking a holistic approach to your needs. Selling off-the-shelf products can often times add up to more cost and less value. Look for value. Culver’s sells value baskets. Find the banker that provides you the holistic “value basket” in banking.
As your business matures, three things to focus on – understand your Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Cash Flow. These are the basics to business. All three can be impacted by your banker and the knowledge you gain from them. These three things should be the foundation for your discussions with your banker. You meet yearly with your accountant. You call your attorney for all legal advice. What do you talk to your banker about? CASH! How much is coming in and how much is going out? Are you making money? Are you building your net worth? I realized this concept after three years of chasing my tail as a burger flipper.
Lastly, what is your plan for when the ride comes to an end? All rides come to an end. Some end in disappointment and some end in jubilation. Success depends how you plan and perceive this to happen. My ride ended after eight years at the height of my work years. It ended for many reasons, but the fact that it could ever end fazed me the first seven years. Planning for this to happen could be the difference between success and failure after years of hard work and dedication. Don’t let lack of planning turn years of success into failure. How can a banker help? Bankers provide value through lending choices, deposit products, wealth management and payment options that should be designed to help you succeed. After going from a burger flipping and shake making business owner to being a banker, I “value” what “Professionals” offer. Making a loan or opening a checking account doesn’t make my day like a Butterburger or Concrete Mixer, but helping a business owner succeed does!