When you start and scale your construction business, four key factors have a huge impact on its success and profitability:
- The people you hire and how you train and retain them
- The types of projects you take on and the quality of the work you do
- Client service quality and reputation
- The bank you choose to manage your money
The last one may not seem to fit on this list, but the reality is that cash flow and access to cash are business factors that can make or break your company.
You also need to spend your time and energy on what you do best— construction! And not wasting precious hours every month chasing after deposits, reconciling your books, and begging for loans.
Today’s business has more choices than ever before about where to bank. Even if you already have a solid relationship with your business bank, you should evaluate options and make sure you’re getting the best deal, best service, and (more important today than ever) best automated systems for managing your money.
Aren’t All Banks Basically the Same?
In a word, no.
A whopping 27 percent of business owners use the same bank for both their personal and business money management.
But your needs as a business are radically different from those as a consumer.
For starters, the amount of money that goes into and out of your business account is usually much larger. Your tax needs are different. And, when you need access to a large amount of capital, consumer banks are not usually equipped to meet your needs.
As your business grows, you need a level of personalized service and flexibility that most consumer banks are unable to offer.
The reality too is that banks, like construction companies, have specific areas of expertise and knowledge. A consumer banker and a business banker have radically different skill sets.
Today, banks are also evolving their technologies to meet the needs of their customers. And smaller banks simply don’t have the money or talent to build out a state-of-the-art business banking system.
Types of Banks and Accounts Abound
Walk down any street in any town or city today and you’ll see bank buildings or financial services companies on practically every corner. You’ll find:
- Regional banks, who serve a contained geographic area
- National banks with branches in multiple states
- Global banks who often offer financial services worldwide, beyond just basic transactions
Although you won’t see them, virtual (or Internet) banks have also sprung up over the past decade.
You’ll also find different types of accounts within those banks:
- Business checking accounts, which are used for everyday functions like checkwriting, payroll, and deposits. Often linked to business debit cards, you use checking accounts to manage your daily and ongoing expenses.
- Business savings accounts are a great place to “park” the cash you don’t need. It can serve as an emergency fund and usually pays interest.
- Cash management accounts are very common these days. They are automated systems that enable you to move money between checking and savings.
What Construction Companies Need to Look for in a Business Bank
If your business is just starting out, the bank you choose is a critical decision. If you’ve been up and running for a while, switching banks may seem daunting, but your needs change as you grow and you need to be sure that your current bank is the right fit.
Choosing a bank that’s FDIC-compliant is a priority. The Federal government has laws in place to ensure your hard-earned money remains safe and secure. Every legitimate banking institution today should be part of this program.
Among the other factors you should consider in today’s environment are:
These can add up over the course of the year and if you are keeping a significant balance at your bank, you should expect that some of these fees will be waived or reduced. Many banks offer introductory deals to get businesses or consumers to move their money. But be sure to look at long-term pricing to ensure those invisible charges don’t appear later.
As we all know, the number and types of professionals at every type of company have changed over the years. Although the days of the “old school banker” (like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life”) are long gone, if you have to spend hours on an endless phone loop every time you have a question, that will take away from your business productivity.
Access to Funding
Here’s where consumer and business banking differs significantly. When clients are late with payments, you’ve had a slow period in business, or your equipment suddenly breaks down and needs to be replaced, you may need access to fast cash. It may be a significant amount. Or let’s think positively. Your business is doing really well and you need to get more space, more equipment, more people, or new technologies to run your business. If you have a solid relationship with the right bank, getting loans when you need them is easier and faster.
- Online banking, so you can deposit checks and receive payments at any time, wherever you are.
- Mobile banking, which enables you to check balances, transfer money, and even make deposits from your smartphone or tablet.
- Integrated systems that “talk” to your other financial functions, like month-end close and credit card management.
Speaking of credit cards, this part of financial management is handled by third party providers. So, even if your bank’s name appears on a card, the issuer is a totally separate company.
The second part of this series is how to select the right credit or purchasing card for your construction business.
Why Online Banking and Automation is So Important Today
Most banks today have some level of online and/or mobile banking. But choosing an institution that is ahead of the curve can ultimately result in huge business benefits for you.
- You can bank anytime, anywhere.
- The right banking system will integrate with other cash management systems so you can easily move money, pay off credit cards, and perform month-end closes much faster.
- The money you deposit can be available much faster.
- If you get a business loan, you can draw on and make payments quickly, ensuring your credit score remains solid.
- When you do have problems or issues, you can get questions answered rapidly
So, even if you have your original bank account from when you started your company, be aware that the world of financial services has probably changed radically since then.
You want to be with an institution that’s keeping up not only with the needs of today’s business owner but also with the construction industry, a sector that has its own unique challenges.
At Vendrix, we all come from your industry and can help you decide how to make the best decisions to manage your time and cash flow.
Remember, you want a bank AND a credit card that will help your construction business through good times and challenging times. We’ve been there!
Check out our unique solutions to help you manage your hard-earned money better!