There’s an art to knowing when and how to grow your business, and your Bank of St. Francisville team is here to help.
“For us, it starts with listening,” says BSF President of Commercial Lending Carter Leak, IV. “As a community-based business ourselves, we appreciate that every business owner faces tough decisions about when and how to grow. It’s a lot easier to make the right move when you have the ear of your lender.”
BSF’s team thrives on sitting down with customers and thinking creatively about how the bank’s products can help their businesses expand. In most cases, growth depends on access to ready capital in the form of lines of credit, construction or real estate loans or other lending vehicles. BSF lending professionals can help find a product that serves each customer’s needs.
“Our goal is to help our customers identify options for growth that are tailored to them specifically,” he says. “We want to find strategies that balance risk and return, and that help you achieve financial success and personal satisfaction.”
5 ways to grow your business
Open a second location
Done correctly, opening a second location can bring your operation new market opportunities, but when and how to do this varies dramatically with each business.
From its storefront in historic downtown St. Francisville, retailer Grandmother’s Buttons built a powerful brand with its “wearable history” jewelry. In 2015, the successful 30-year venture opened a second location in a completely different market, the New Orleans Magazine Street shopping district. That location has also been a winner, thanks to market awareness and an established brand.
“It’s really important to know your customers and to have a strong sense of the market,” Leak says. “A second location requires having good intelligence on anticipated sales and assurance that you can hire the right talent.”
Bring in a partner
Some small businesses find that success means selling to a larger entity or bringing in a partner.
“In some cases, a larger partner can bring a lot to the table,” says Leak. “Some small businesses, especially ones that are capital intensive, may find that a partner can take the pressure off and allow the business owner to get back to the work that he or she most enjoys.”
That’s exactly how St. Francisville-based Lite Technologies founder Jeff Denham approached his recent partnership with Wilco Manufacturing. Denham sold the rights to his products -- amphibious marsh vehicles used in oil and utility exploration – to Wilco, a much larger outfit based in Lafayette, Louisiana. The sale freed Denham from chasing capital to fund production, enabling him to focus on what he liked best about being in business in the first place, vehicle design and working with customers.
Expand internet sales
Even in communities that value face-to-face relationships, businesses still need a strong web presence to increase their sales and fortify their brands.
“A solid website with good, clear information about sales and services can add credibility to your business,” says Leak. “Depending on the type of business, it can help bring in additional sales through the storefront, or it can be a portal for new or expanded online sales.”
A line of credit is a great way to help a stable business invest in an internet expansion, says Leak, adding that business owners should think carefully about issues like search engine optimization and ease of site use.
“It’s important they’re getting the right bang for their buck,” he says.
For some businesses, adding a new division is the right way to expand, but key to success is ensuring existing operations don’t suffer. Rather, they should be enhanced by new goods or services.
“The trick to investing in a new business line is making sure that it complements what you’re already doing,” says Leak.
Recently, one of St. Francisville’s most visited historic sites decided to diversify by adding a new venture: a restaurant. Previously, The Myrtles had leased restaurant operations to outside proprietors, but when the opportunity for a fresh start emerged, the plantation’s owners decided that owning and operating their own onsite restaurant would yield better outcomes. They broke ground on a new restaurant last year that should be fully operational by this fall when The Myrtles sees its highest annual numbers of tourist traffic.
Position your business as a franchise
It’s possible that your business is replicable in the form of a franchise. You might have even been approached by others for franchise rights. If that’s the case, then shoring up internal systems and testing market viability elsewhere is a good first step.
“If one of our customers feels that franchising is the right move, we’re happy to sit down and talk through what’s next,” says Leak.
Business owners can also network with franchise owners, meet with a franchise attorney and, when they’re ready, approach a franchise broker.
“It could be that a business is ready for this kind of move now, or it could be that this is a long-term goal,” says Leak. “Our team can help you identify things that you can do to best position your business.”
To make an appointment to discuss your financial needs, call us at (225) 635-6397 or make an appointment HERE today.