Dear Christine: As a new practice owner, I am reviewing vendors at my practice and making sure the practice is getting value from each relationship. Ideally, I want to work with suppliers who are both dependable and who advocate for my practice. I have never really considered what my current bank brings to the table. How do I evaluate my banker? – Seeking Vendors with Benefits
Dear Seeking: Practice success can certainly be dependent upon establishing a network of trusted suppliers.
It makes good business sense to regularly re-evaluate vendor relationships, including advisory relationships like your banker.
To aid in your decision, I suggest interviewing multiple bankers and asking these three questions:
1. What type of lending do you specialize in?
Some banks, like BMO Harris, have a focus on the dental industry, which means they know the ins and outs of practice management and know that dentists will generally meet the bank’s loan eligibility requirements.
2. How have you helped practices like mine?
Good bankers are advocates for their clients and should be able to provide examples of such. They can proactively help solve challenges and even prevent future problems by providing advice based on what they’ve seen with other clients.
3. Do you offer any business counseling?
This question gets to the heart of the added value that a good banker can provide. Some bankers can provide technical assistance in preparing applications, as well as offer educational assistance on financial management, practice management, business plans, marketing and more. Most importantly, they can leverage their own network to generate referrals.
A good banker will always be willing to answer the above questions – and frankly, will be impressed that you asked. I would add that it’s good to start asking these questions even before you own a practice, so you’re well positioned for your next career move.
There are many types of supplier relationships, but none as important, or as potentially business-altering, as practice owner’s relationship with their bank. Doing your due diligence here will be well worth it.
A commercial banker since 2006, Ms. Olmstead Lopez advises mid- to large-size practices, leveraging her background in commercial credit underwriting and structuring, and providing industry-specific expertise and local market insight to add value, foster long-lasting relationships and — above all — helping dentists realize their vision for growth.
Editor’s note: This article is provided by BMO Harris Bank, the ADA Member Advantage-endorsed provider for practice financing. Call 1-833-276-6017 or visit bmoharris.com/dentists for more information.