Before a bank can help you identify products and services that can make your business run more efficiently, you need to have an idea of the gaps that are holding you back, says Abigail Avalos, vice president of Treasury Management Services at Bridge Bank.

“What’s important to you?” Avalos asks. “Companies have so many things that they are managing and so many different priorities. Before you meet with your bank, you need to sit down and think about treasury management services and which options would most effectively help your business.”

A good banker will help a company manage its cash flow and create efficiency with its banking activities, as well as ensure that the latest technology tools are being utilized, Avalos says.

“When a bank is able to match up the right services with a company’s needs, the result is a day-to-day management process that is streamlined and easy to manage, allowing you to focus on the growth of your business,” she says.

Smart Business spoke with Avalos about how treasury management services can help your company meet its growth goals and function more efficiently.

How can companies enable banks to provide stronger support?

When you come to a meeting with your bank, be prepared to talk about your business and what it needs.

Companies often focus on the lending side with their bank and then the discussion about deposits comes in the second part of the relationship, which is where treasury management services come into play. Give your bank an idea of what you want to do. What solutions are you using that are working and where are you still experiencing challenges? Make a wish list in terms of what you are looking for.

The more you open up, the more you can find out about services that fit your needs. Say you’re using a courier service to make deposits into your bank account and you’re averaging 50 to 100 deposits a week.

That can get expensive and you may have concerns about the deposits arriving at the bank and being entered into your accounts in a timely manner to ensure the funds are available.

Your bank can work with you to get a scanner to process the payments or a lockbox if you have a high volume of transactions to manage so as not to burden your team with managing that task. Electronic or wire payment services may also be a good option. Be clear about your priorities and you’ll find the right solution for your needs.

What if a company has concerns about the state of its financial record keeping?

Banks are not in a position to tell you how to manage your accounting team.

As a treasury adviser, the goal is to make recommendations that create efficiency. Some customers who are not as familiar with the platforms banks use may require more hand-holding to see how a product or service could help remedy some of your company’s inefficiencies.

But the goal with most banks is to work with you at your speed to get to a place where your treasury management systems are no longer a hindrance to growth, but rather a tool that can propel your company forward.

How do banks stay connected to what’s happening in the industry?

Treasurers are always aware of current developments in the market and are looking to see what competitors are using. If your bank is regularly reaching out to you about new products and services, that’s a good sign.

The intent isn’t to give you the hard sell to buy another product that you won’t use. It’s to make you aware of what’s available to help your business and then try to match those tools with your needs.

One of the best ways to establish a more informed relationship with your bank is to have regular meetings to review your account structure, conduct an account analysis and talk about options that might be worth considering for your business.

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