The past few years have taught us that when it comes to factors affecting business, such as economic conditions, global events, and supply chain disruptions, it is truly impossible to predict the future. At Stellar Bank, our dedicated team of community bankers exist to help our customers prepare for what’s to come through an annual strategic planning session. We encourage customers to share a wide range of topics during personal and business banking sessions, including things like company dynamics, personal aspirations, or even where a customer is planning to vacation. Learning more about our customers on both a personal and professional level is a key factor in deepening the relationship and setting Stellar Bank customers up for long-term success.
We recently sat down with Martin Montoya, Senior Vice President and Commercial Lender at Stellar Bank, to learn more about the planning sessions he has with his customers at the beginning of each year, and what these sessions mean to our customers and their businesses.
Q: How long have you been with Stellar Bank and what is your role?
A: I’ve been with Stellar Bank for six years. My job title is Commercial Lender, but I believe my role is to be an advocate for our bank, customers, and community.
Q: What planning processes do you incorporate at the beginning of the year for customers?
A: At the beginning of each year, I ask our customers to think beyond their financials and more about a wish list for their business. This usually gets them thinking about where they would like their company to go in the future as well as past performance and possible constraints. At this point, we start identifying areas that they would like to enhance.
Together, we identify a few top priorities, rank them by importance, and try to determine what will provide them with the biggest lift in what they are wanting to accomplish. This information, along with the conversations that take place, help me present the customer with potential solutions to help them succeed.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish through the planning sessions?
A: I know that business owners are busy! The first thing that this process accomplishes is determining where they want to be in the future. I have them stop and think about where they currently are businesswise versus where they want to be. Setting a dedicated time to think ahead allows us to tackle those wants together with possible solutions. We then take action as a team.
Q: When did you originally implement this proactive approach with your customers and why?
A: Many years ago, I realized that business owners can easily get wrapped up in the day-to-day. In many cases, when they need something important, it is typically last minute. I was also seeing business owners miss opportunities because they were unprepared for the year ahead, and I wanted to help eliminate any stressors I can for them.
Q: Can you tell us about a recent planning session you conducted with a customer? What were the results?
A: I recently went through the planning process with a customer who is the owner of an engineering firm. He went from leasing his property for the past 10 years, to purchasing and closing on a property that became the company’s permanent location. The client also realized that hiring a CPA to run his monthly financials was very cost-effective for his business, allowing him to dedicate that extra time to working on additional projects and increase revenue. He is now looking to the future, with a goal of reviewing his current insurance to ensure he has the correct types for his business and is actively interviewing attorneys.
Q: Why do you feel that strategic planning is so important for business owners?
A: The future is ripe with opportunity, but it is important to slow down and identify the opportunities that make the most sense for you and your business. Taking a step back from the day-to-day hustle can make an enormous difference in the months and years ahead. It may help you identify processes to increase efficiency, revenue, or other key components of the business. I’m looking forward to working alongside my customers to get a plan A, B, C or all three going for the year ahead!
To schedule a planning session with a Stellar Banker, contact us here.