Part of my duties here at the CMC Network is to help onboard new members.
I evaluate each new member for general accounting and tax history. In the previous months there has been a trend amongst the new members. One of the biggest relates to banking.
All the new members I have met are currently banking with a big box bank. Contractors often do themselves a disservice when choosing one of these banks. A contractor needs to consider at least three factors.
- The banks’ ability to provide electronic options
- The bank’s willingness to provide borrowing options that make sense for contractors specifically and
- The banks willingness to work with the contractor as they grow.
A contractor should make sure their bank is able to work with them electronically
A contractor should make sure the bank’s website is easy to use, has the proper protections and provides a contact (a real person) for the contractor if they run into issues with their online banking.
The bank should be able to allow for direct deposit for those contractors that have employees and allow for the contractor to receive payments from their clients on an electronic basis. COVID has taught many of us that we need to be able to accomplish daily tasks electronically. A contractor should be prepared for the ability to pay their vendors electronically as well. Making most of the banking tasks electronic will save a contractor time and may even be able to make their bookkeeping more efficient as well.
Whatever bank is chosen should be able to work within the contractor’s needs
Most of the larger banks these days are steering away from construction clients in general due to the volatility of any construction market. The big box banks that do take on construction contractors tend to apply stringent rules for borrowing money.
A contractor may need a line of credit to cover costs on a job before any revenue payments are received or as a contractor grows larger, they need a bank line of credit to expand their overall contract capacity for bonding insurance purposes. The big box banks most often won’t extend the credit needed because the risk is too high, regardless of the owner’s credit history.
The smaller banks typically provide a relationship manager that works with a contractor on both its banking and borrowing needs. The smaller banks have much different borrowing requirements that will be less stringent for the typical construction contractor and therefore are much more attractive than the big box banks. Above all, my experience has been that the smaller banks are able to provide a true working relationship with any size contractor that is both personable and workable for both the bank and the contractor.
Allow the relationship to grow
Finally, a contractor should choose a bank that is willing to work with them as they grow. This may involve increasing borrowing capacity, adding more bank accounts or working with the contractor to obtain other types of loans.
An example that I like to refer to when choosing a bank is the pandemic and the smaller banks’ abilities to offer options to help and assist with government programs. Many of my clients that used big box banks to obtain government assistance funding ran into issues with obtaining the funding because no one at the bank was willing to help them through the process. The smaller banks were able to provide direct assistance quickly and basically held contractors’ hands through the entire process of funding and later forgiveness where applicable.
Choosing what bank to work with is so important for a contractor and should not be taken lightly. It’s often wise to start that relationship well before funds are needed as well.
Starting a relationship with a smaller local bank will be able to offer so much more to a contractor than a big box bank. The good news is that the CMC network does have relationships with smaller banks that would be happy to have more contractor business.