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Stay Close To Your Bank In Tough Times

Business-Building Thoughts And Musings From Terry Brock

Yesterday I was presenting to a group in Memphis, Tennessee. I love that city with its Southern charm and all the benefits it offers. The best part of Memphis is the wonderful people who always impress me as genuine and down-to-earth.

As I was getting ready to present, I spoke to a Vice President of Customer Relationships at a local bank. I asked her how her bank was doing in the midst of the economy. Like many small banks, hers was doing well although they are feeling the challenges of the economy today.

What caught my attention more than anything was her comment about how she, working with customers with bank loans, reacted to those who were behind in their payments. She indicated that many of her bank customers would stay in touch with her and explain their situation even when times were tough. She told me that when a bank customer calls and explains what is happening and how they are working to make the payments and keep their commitments to the bank (that’s what a loan is all about — commitment), she wanted to help them.

She told me she also had a few customers who were behind in their payments who were trying to hide from her. She would make repeated calls and they would never return her calls. Imagine that! People trying to avoid a collections call!

It was interesting to hear her say — and I saw the fire in her eyes on this one — I don’t care if we have to foreclose on their property. If they won’t even return a call and talk to me, I don’t have any reason to help them.


Relationship Marketing is about a lot more than just reaching and helping customers. It relates to your entire supply team (as Steve Epner would say). It is imperative to maintain good relationships not only with customers but also with suppliers, partners and other stakeholders in your business. This is particularly true in tough economic times.

Relationship Marketing is not just a smile and a shoeshine (to borrow from Willie Loman in The Death of a Salesman). Relationship Marketing is about finding the needs of others and listening to them. Yes, it is also about returning calls and being decent. You’ve got to think of the other person and where he or she is coming from.

This banker I spoke with demonstrated that she cared for her customers. She wanted to help them and she does. However, when someone refuses to exhibit even the basics of human decency — i.e. returning a phone call — it is only human to feel slighted and approach them at a different level.

Maintaining relationships during difficult times is most important. Hey, it’s most important all the time and during difficult times it makes the difference between keeping your house and moving to the curb!

Relationship Marketing requires drawing closer to all those in our supply team and finding their areas of need. By helping them succeed we amazingly help ourselves to get ahead. Find creative, interesting ways to stay in touch with important people in your supply team. Yes, stay in touch with customers but also stay close to others who can make or break your business.

During tough times, make it a point to listen to others. Hear what they have to say and how they feel. This can pay off in any economy.

Today, having the right attitude and care for all in your supply team can even help you keep you house!

Copyright © 2009, Terry Brock and Achievement Systems, Inc. Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and professional speaker who helps businesses generate profitable results. He can be reached by e-mail at or through his website at Join the Twitter adventure with Terry through his Twitter address: TerryBrock.

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