According to an ad on LinkedIn from a finance company, 20% of borrowers were frustrated with their SBA PPP loan process and planned to switch banks as a result. It’s not often the banking industry has such clear feedback that a significant portion of potential clients are unhappy with their financial institution. Many borrowers have talked about how they bank with a large national bank, and their loan information was lost somewhere in the black abyss while they waited with no communication and no idea where they were in the approval process. This is the time for banks to focus on service as a selling point. Many community banks can’t compete on price, and sell on service, and that point has never been more important. Borrowers might be agreeable to a bit of a higher price point on banking projects if they understand how individualized service can save them headache and hassle. My banker, walked me through the process. She gave me insight. She told me everything she knew, provided clear instructions with timelines, and shared updates as soon as she received them. My banker called her loan processor to tell her that I was a good client, and she wanted her to make sure to push my paperwork through. The processor called me the next day to clarify answers on my application that may have put me into a delayed process for examining any unclear responses. Even though I waited a couple of weeks before getting approval, I wasn’t worried. I knew my paperwork was being monitored and I could find out where I was in the process at any given time. My banker was connected, informed, and advocating for me. I knew my banker was keeping track of my application, and I knew my bank valued me as a client.I am lucky to know many good lenders close to me, since I have worked with commercial lenders for 12 years. And while in the borrowing process for buying my building, I got to see first-hand how these bankers – bankers whose positions I had helped them find – worked to close and serve clients. It was enlightening to say the least. I have a whole new appreciation for lenders and banking processes. For non-bankers and borrowers: if you had a bad experience with your PPP process, look for a banker who will get to know you, advocate for you, and support you in your goals. My aunt, who owns a successful salon in Seattle had not borrowed since she bought her business nearly 40 years ago. She had no idea what bankers could do for her. I immediately sent her to an excellent lender I had placed who had the ability to make a case for borrowers, individually. These are things you should ask when exploring a new banking relationship: Can you advocate for me on an individual basis? Can you challenge a decision or get allowances for me?There are three things you need to succeed in business: a banker, an accountant, and a lawyer. I first heard that when I attended business camp at Western Washington University at age 16 and have seen it be true over my last several years as a business owner. I also recommend finding a recruiter you trust who can bring you value in market intel on pay, industry trends and moves, etc. Commercial lenders and deposit gatherers, when opportunity speaks, listen. Go call on all businesses. I know making calls is not something every banker likes to do, but there is rarely a time when borrowers or depositors will be more open to listening; specifically clients of big banks (who feel lost) or banks that have problems in processing loans. Even companies who haven’t borrowed before took advantage of the available SBA loans, and they had a taste of what borrowing looks like. The companies that don’t borrow often have deposits too. This is a great time to hit the business development side of banking hard and use this difficult time in our market place to deepen relationships and grow new ones with companies that didn’t know they needed you.