No one understands what goes into a small business quite like a fellow small business owner. Customers might see a local bakery or a franchised retail store, but operationally and financially, it’s much more complicated. From navigating the economy to scaling your team, it’s crucial to have a banking partner with a deep understanding of the financial demands that accompany running a small business.
Erin Williams, Commercial Loan Officer at Rockland Trust, is in a unique position to support her business clients because she’s also a business owner. Outside her role with Rockland Trust, Erin and her husband are owners of Bogside Acres, a livestock farm in Plympton, Massachusetts as well as Benson’s Pond, a cranberry bog and event venue in Middleboro, Massachusetts. As a commercial banker by day, and a farmer at all other hours, Erin has firsthand experience navigating the jack-of-all-trades nature of owning a business.
Erin walked us through her approach to commercial lending, and the blended learnings she’s garnered.
Erin’s Approach to Commercial Lending
One thing’s for sure: Every business needs capital in order to maintain and scale operations. Commercial loans can help you meet your needs when you don’t have enough cash on hand.
At Rockland Trust, a small business garnering over $5 million in revenue annually would generally be referred to a commercial banking officer. But Erin said the definition isn’t always so clear cut.
“It's really about the size of the business and the size of their financing needs,” she explained. “There are times when we have small businesses that may not have the revenue size, but they do have the borrowing needs.” This could be a businesses or industry that has significant real estate or equipment needs, such as a landscaper.
In other words, you might have an idea of your financial needs, but working with a banking partner will give you a greater understanding of your unique situation, and the best product or terms for your business.
Worth noting is that personal finances will be an important part of the equation. When applying for a commercial loan, having up-to-date personal financial records on hand will inform the bank’s lending strategy. Erin recommends sharing information that is no more than three months (90 days) old.
Blending Bog and Banking Knowledge
Erin’s role as a banker and a business owner gives her a unique camaraderie with her clients. Although she’s a finance professional, she’s always learning new things right alongside her customers. One particular example is cash management. Bogside Acres is a seasonal business, and they generate a significant amount of their revenue during September and October each year.
In fact, during a meeting with her Rockland Trust team, Erin was introduced to a useful business banking feature she wasn’t previously aware of – an integration that feeds her business’s online banking information directly into QuickBooks.
“I found out about it at a Treasury Management meeting and I quickly went and implemented that into my business,” she said. “I saved a ton of time on our record keeping, as well as our tax return prep.”
Since this time, Erin has continued to expand her product knowledge to further support her customers and her local network. Whether a business is looking for fraud protection tools or faster payment processing – there is likely a service or expert in the Bank who you can work with you to achieve your goals.
“When you own a business you're constantly learning, you're constantly evolving,” she said. “And I get to see that on my customers' side; that's one thing that keeps my job super interesting.”
Business Challenges and Solutions
The economy impacts every industry differently, but cash management is a common theme among Erin’s clients.
“A lot of my clients are looking at where they want to spend their dollars,” she said. “If someone's trying to focus on growth, or trying to focus on a specific service within their operation, labor shortages can be limiting factors to growth. And that has a trickle down effect – staffing is limited and project completions are slower. You want to bring in new hires to handle the new business, but you need the new business to afford the new hires.”
Regardless of the lending or business need, Erin uses Rockland’s relationship-first banking approach to advise her clients on best practices for their situation.
Finding a trusted loan officer
Our team is here to support you. Whether this is your first time exploring commercial loan options or you’ve been around the block, a trusted financial partner will tailor their advice to your business situation and help you achieve the best outcome. Learn more about applying for business loans.
Photographic credit: Alison Niles Photography
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