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Forge Small Business Relationships: Five Strategies

Engage business owners in robust dialogue around small-business drivers.

October 28, 2010
KEYWORDS benefits , business , loans , owner
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3. Be true to CU principles

Successful credit unions never forget to offer that for which they’re best known: low fees, better rates, and excellent service.

After all, small-business owners look for and expect benefits over and above those they’ve been receiving from banks.

4. Offer relationship pricing

Small-business owners prefer to have their personal accounts at the same institution as their business accounts. Create more benefits for the small-business owner by bundling the credit union’s products and presenting the owner with a total solution of lower fees and better rates.

While taking care of the owner’s initial need is the first step, the institution can add value by offering discounts based on the relationship. Doing so reinforces the message that the credit union wants to work with the owner on both short- and long-term goals, and personal and business needs.

5. Develop professionals to be long-term financial partners

The goal is to be viewed as a trusted adviser to the small business. With that in mind, equip all of the credit union’s professionals (including the branch manager) with the best practices to include reaching out to the small-business owner on an ongoing basis.

This can be accomplished by establishing regular touch points and incorporating periodic reviews. Ignoring this step will hinder the effort to build trust and form true partnerships with business owners.

Begin the commitment at the top, with senior management, so all employees will be involved in learning how to best serve the needs of small-business owners. When the entire credit union demonstrates this level of dedication, the organization will earn the small-business owner’s trust and loyalty—a true measure of success.

Credit unions have much in common with small businesses—both want to reach out to the community and build valuable relationships. Institutions that succeed in partnering with small companies will reap additional benefits, because these members are connected to the community’s consumers, and therefore are some of the best referral sources.

Likewise, small-business owners benefit doubly from their relationship with the credit union because it can help them achieve both personal and business goals.

CINDI CAMPANA is vice president of product development for sales and sales management at Omega Performance Corp., Charlotte, N.C. Contact her at 704-672-1400.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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