After working in the banking industry for 28 years, where he eventually focused on business services, Mike Mucilli joined CU Business Group and noticed a common mistake among credit unions: confining their business services program to their main office and not extend it to their branches.
Speaking to attendees at the virtual conference hosted by Portland, Ore., CUSO Business Services on Thursday, Mucilli said it made sense to brief branch staff on business loans because, first, branches of business ” a credit union has its best sellers, and second, business owners have been urged by banks, which have been in business for much longer than credit unions, to visit the offices of financial institutions local authorities for their banking needs.
“What I’ll hear from credit unions is, ‘We’ve hit a plateau. We need to increase our volumes. What are we doing?’ I therefore ask them to involve the branches. This is the best way to increase volumes and reach more members, ”he said.
Here are some tips from Mucilli for credit unions looking to turn their branches into mini business service centers:
1. Recognize the similarities and differences between consumer and salesperson. In some ways, helping a business member is a lot like helping a non-business member – you need to listen carefully to the member’s needs and match them with the product or service that works best. But commercial products bring more complexities. For example, unlike a typical consumer loan, the terms of a business loan can be negotiated, so they should only be discussed loosely at first. Plus, an auto or home mortgage can be closed quickly, but it’s not uncommon for a business loan to take months. The staff member should keep detailed notes about a member of the company to refer to throughout their trip, Mucilli said. He also recommended that staff members create their own business loan pipelines to associate with notes on each.
2. Focus on building relationships. The branch staff member should be the primary point of contact for a company member, not a credit analyst at the institution’s headquarters. They must be proactive in staying in touch with the member and keeping the lines of communication open. If applicable, the staff member should attend the closing of the business owner’s loan (if it is a new commercial property, for example).
3. Master the interview. While potential business loan borrowers must submit lengthy documents as part of the application process, the most important aspect of verifying a new member is to conduct an effective interview. Mucilli recommended asking open ended questions such as “Tell me about your business” and covering how long they have been in business, what the loan is for and how much they are looking for, if they have any existing debts. and if so, what its terms are, if the business has other owners and – venturing into cross-selling – what their business checking account looks like. “The interview is where you find out whether you really feel comfortable lending that money or not,” he said.
4. Don’t waste their time. Find out what kinds of terms they’re looking for, and if your credit union can’t match them, let them move on. Additionally, some business owners looking for credit are time pressed, so make sure your turnaround time is right for them before moving forward. Dragging out a deal that doesn’t meet the needs of the business owner can damage your credit union’s reputation, Mucilli noted.
5. Learn how to create a letter of intent. A letter of intent, which is not binding, expresses an institution’s interest in making a loan to a business owner if it meets certain requirements and can be used as a negotiating tool by the owner with other institutions when shopping.
6. Adjust your communication style to suit the personality of the business owner. “If they’re really specific about rates and numbers, they’re probably the analytical type, so you have to speak in their language and be specific, leading with dollars and cents,” Mucilli said. “If you can read personalities, you will do a lot more deals. “
7. Stay in touch and cross-sell. After a loan closes, business owners are much more likely to need additional financial products than, say, a consumer who just got a residential mortgage. It is important to stay in touch with them and provide them with other products and services that may meet their needs, including personal banking products and services.