Show Me the Money

Is your banker becoming “unfriendly?” Has he placed new restrictive covenants on your loans or credit line? Have you had a junior loan officer say, “Sure. We like to loan money to small businesses like yours.” Or, “We want business like yours.” Only later to learn that the loan committee has overruled the decision.

During the recession, the banking and finance industry was turned upside down and has not recovered, at least in terms of small business lending. Washington talks a good game about helping small businesses, but little seems to occur that really helps.

Will the new Congress get anything done? We may not have time to wait and see. So, what can we do?

Go shopping!

If you have not shopped your account recently, you may want to do so. Small, locally owned banks can be much friendlier to small businesses, rather than large regional or national institutions. Also, some credit unions have opened commercial lending departments. Check out all of them.

Offer to take your banking relationship (checking, savings and loans) to a new supplier in exchange for more friendly and competitive terms and conditions. Competitive shopping is just as important in your banking relationship as it is with any other supplier. Insist that they “show you the money.”

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Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

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