Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - April 28 , 2010

You and Who Else?

"You and who else?" I remember that as a playground taunt, heard in confrontations between kids. If you were getting tough with me, I might have offered that retort to show that you would need help to get the best of me.

Nowadays, however, rather than a taunt, I think of it as a suggestion, and instead of it being about besting me, it is more about what is best for the customer, as well as for the bank.

Who else, in your community, can you work with to provide complete service to your business customers? Who are your natural allies in helping businesses succeed? And what are you doing to find those allies and forge connections with them that lead to the kinds of collaborations that can help your customers, and theirs?

Typical allies include accounting and legal firms in your market. They are often involved in discussions about a company's business plans, tax documents and status, threats and opportunities, and similar business topics that you have to deal with when that company comes looking for credit and other financial services. And there are many ways to work with such allies.

For most bankers, the first thing that comes to mind is some kind of mutual referral. That's fine, but it is way too narrow. The most successful alliances are long term relationships designed to surround the business owner with complementary services, to make sure all the bases are covered through the involvement of several service providers -- including, but not limited to, your bank.

You can team up with firms in related lines of business to offer seminars and workshops; to reinforce common views in your local media; and to work with local government toward common goals. Putting on events or promotions together, or working together at charitable or community activities, are great ways to strengthen your working relationships with your allies while you link your firms together in the minds of prospective customers.

To benefit from such alliances:

This last point is a key to gaining the credibility, in your local market, that will build trust among your prospects and customers, and long term opportunities for your bank. There are few things your business customers will see through more quickly than any attempt to disguise aggressive selling under the benevolent guise of educating business owners.

You have probably seen this at your Chamber of Commerce, another important alliance. Some people are there to build a better business environment for everyone in the local community. Others are there just to pitch their products and services, trusting to luck, to being in the right place at the right time, to make connections.

You know which of those people you like to work with, and which ones you avoid. Form strong alliances to serve the local business community, and potential customers will welcome your efforts. Simply trade referrals and hawk one another's services, and those prospects will look elsewhere for what they need.

Allies can be good for business. Choose the right allies, with the right attitudes, with a long term perspective on supporting the local market, and you, your allies, and your customers will all be better off.