Tips on meeting the bank manager

Writer: 
Richard Holden

Observing how people pitch their business opportunity on the BBC Dragon’s Den programme will give pointers, both good and bad, about how a franchisee should present their plan to the bank manager.

Having a robust business proposal is not enough if they are unable to articulate their plans and answer the bank manager’s questions when challenged.

Franchisees new to business are likely to be pitching their plan to a bank manager they’ve never met before. In most cases it is likely to be the first time they’ve ever presented a business plan to a bank. It is essential that the franchisor prepares them for the meeting so they know what to expect.

The franchisor should keep the bank’s franchise department up to date with developments with their network. If they haven’t provided an update for several months then they should do so ensuring that the banks are assessing franchisee’s business plans on the latest available information.

The business plan should be punchy and a common mistake is to make it too detailed. Make sure that it grabs the bank manager’s interest. Presentation of the plan is important to create a positive impression and the franchisee should practice delivery of their plan beforehand so that they come across professionally.

Preparing the franchisee for the bank manager meeting is simple. The franchisor should ask that they present their business plan to them beforehand. A franchisor with years of business experience should be able to spot any glaring mistakes or omissions to assist their franchisee. There is an old saying that practice makes perfect and the more practice the franchisee gets in presenting their plan, then the more confident and professional their pitch is likely to be.

The franchisee should have a very good understanding of the business to give a confident appearance when they meet the bank manager. They should take ownership of their plan which must be well researched and prepared.

Take into consideration that the bank manager is likely to be very busy so let them have a copy of the business plan well in advance so they can prepare for the meeting. Appointments late in the day should be avoided as the franchisee will want their mind to be fresh for the interview.

Their own comfort is also important so if they are not used to wearing a suit and tie then they don’t need to. But they should ensure that they dress appropriately for the meeting. Ripped jeans and a dirty T-shirt won’t create a good first impression.

Banks are interested in getting back the money they lend so make it clear how this will be achieved. Franchisees need to know the figures inside out however it’s a mistake is to get too bogged down on the financial projections. It’s best to keep it simple and demonstrate what strengths they personally bring to the business. They should present themselves positively and demonstrate their commitment and enthusiasm for their business.

Franchisees should make sure that they can answer difficult questions about what would happen if they are unable to achieve forecast sales or if costs are higher than projected. Plan ahead for that worst-case scenario and have a contingency reserve fund to fall back on in case the business takes longer to get established than they have anticipated.

It is often assumed that a business plan is needed just to secure funding. Whilst this is an important benefit of producing a business plan it can also assist with the management of the business such as monitoring the ongoing performance against the original benchmarks and identifying areas for development and potential risk. The plan is a working document and should be regularly reviewed and updated as the business develops.

Building a good working relationship with a bank manager is important. They are well connected in the local community and it is important that they are kept up to date on progress with the business. They will often go out of their way to help, sometimes sending new customers the franchisee’s way.

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