Bankers Leap Jumping Through Hoops

July 17, 2006
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A few years ago, small business owner Cynthia Kay went hunting for a bank that could give her a lot of service and attention. She chose Huntington National Bank for the job.

Huntington has all of Cynthia Kay’s business today; she’s a customer of Huntington’s Private Financial Group and its business banking group. Kay had actually been a customer of Huntington’s predecessor, First Michigan Bank, but left FMB shortly after Huntington acquired it. She returned to Huntington in 2002.

“There came a point where I was looking to see who could serve me both personally and through the business,” recalled Kay, founder of the full-service media production company known as CK & Co. “As a small business owner, my time is best spent serving my customers; you don’t have a lot of time, so you look for people who are going to be able to streamline processes, who are going to make decisions quickly and who are not going to make you jump through hoops to get what you need.”

Kay sat down with Jim Dunlap, Huntington’s regional president, and discussed her needs as a small business owner. She was looking for a bank that would give her the kind of credit she needed — additional credit lines and, down the road, the financing to purchase and renovate a building for the company’s headquarters.

“When you start to purchase buildings and you’re financing new equipment, you’re really looking for a partner,” Kay remarked. “They moved that loan along very quickly. I was impressed with the speed with which they did that, which, for me, was critical. They made it easy, to the point of even helping me look at which assets I should leverage. They make it easy for the customer, and that’s what I was looking for.”

Kay said the service is seamless — that even though she’s served by a variety of banking groups within Huntington, there’s no differentiation between the Private Financial Group and business banking. She said her bankers not only nurture the relationship but also go out of their way to look for business opportunities for her and have even referred new customers.

Huntington Bank is also a customer of CK & Co., she pointed out; it does video production work for the bank, such as internal communications, the corporate video magazine and other projects.

“Part of our business strategy has always been to work with suppliers or partners, where we’re a customer of theirs and they’re a customer of ours, so we’re both invested in the relationship,” Kay explained. “We think of Huntington as a partner. We like the idea that we’re mutually invested, because then it’s in everybody’s interest to do the right thing, to do the best thing.

“After we put together the most recent presentation for Huntington, Jim Dunlap himself called me up and said, ‘What can I do to help you? Where do you need to be connected? Are there some things that we’re not doing for you that we can do for you?’”

Kay said Huntington has also helped open doors to business networking opportunities. She has met people that she has never run across before even though she has lived in Grand Rapids a long time, she said.

What’s the key to keeping customers like Kay coming back? The business end of the relationship has to be good and the bank has to deliver good products and services, but if it’s “all business,” customers probably won’t want to come back, said Scott Pastoor, vice president/business banking team leader at Huntington.

“You’ve got to develop a personal relationship and get to know them. Make time for some personal chat — don’t make the meeting all business when you sit down,” he said. “The industry is very competitive, but at the end of the day, if customers like you they’re going to look for reasons to stick with you. If there is no personal connection whatsoever, they’re going to look for reasons to leave.”

A self-described “hometown girl,” Kay said another thing that impresses her about Huntington is that the company “puts its money where its mouth is.”

“I was born and raised here, and I like to do business with people who do things for this community because I do that. Huntington has stepped up and done a lot of really good things in terms of helping local charities and really making a difference. That’s important to me. If you’re going to say you’re a local bank and you’re going to have that connection, then you need to make sure you’re giving back, and I think Huntington has done that.”     

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