Vince Rinaldi Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

If you decide to do business with Vince Rinaldi, don’t be surprised if you end up having dinner with him. Sure the CEO of National City Commercial Capital is a busy guy, but he believes that there is no substitute for meeting people in person. So Rinaldi and his staff make time to ensure that new customers get a face-to-face meeting so that both parties can understand one another better. With that philosophy driving the lending company and its 380 employees, assets have increased from $3.2 billion in 2004 to more than $6 billion in 2006.

Smart Business spoke with Rinaldi about encouraging employees and meeting people in person.

Break bread with new business. I don’t believe you’re going to do deals over the phone. I think we’re badly misled if we think that people will do deals with us just because we talk to them over the phone. You better get out and get in your car, or get on that plane, and make the call in person.

Your initial contact and your initial relationship are predicated on face-to-face relations.

I take it upon myself to go out and meet top customers. I love to do that because that’s where you find a common ground.

When you break bread with someone and you look them eye to eye, you can find out if you can do business with them or not. And I believe at the end of the day, people want to do business with people they want to do business with. I’ve never known a successful businessman that can beat (his) competitors and close the big deal without having a relationship that has been fostered by meeting with someone in person.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you become friends, but you become someone they can count on and can make a phone call to bounce a problem off of. When they meet me, they know that they’re working with me. They see the person.

It gives us a chance to find some common ground on a secondary level, where they can trust you. The only way to do that is face to face.

Give your staff a pat on the back. Even the guys who make the most money would not work here just for that. They want to know they’re doing a good job; they want to be recognized as a leader.

You have to take that recognition all the way down to the person doing billing or collections. You have to take time to recognize all your people.

You have to do it in a way that shows you appreciate it and that acknowledges they did a good job, and do so in front of their peers.

I encourage my managers, if someone is doing something well, to compliment them by e-mail and copy me on the e-mail, so that I have the chance to send a direct e-mail to that person acknowledging that they’ve done a great job. Or I can take the time to stop by and tell them how much we appreciate their work. Or I can call them up and make sure that they know that I know they’ve done a good job. That’s why people come to work.

If you have to spend eight or nine hours a day at work, that’s part of the enjoyment, and that’s how you keep people motivated. The recognition at all levels is important just to keep people.

Give employees something to work for. The main thing I tell people is you have to want to work here and you have to enjoy working here. That means I have to provide the environment where they can have fun.

Now fun to people is different things. I think for most people it’s having a place where they can build on their strengths, not try to fix their weaknesses. If you can find those strengths and capitalize and motivate them with those, and help them get better at what they do, they’ll be happy.

Use wins to share the vision. People want to be part of a successful organization, and when our people see our rankings move up every year, and see us taking deals from the competition, it’s sharing those stories and sharing the winning, and being a winning organization.

It’s a matter of sharing that vision with people and making sure I’m doing a good job of selling that vision every day. That it’s something we support in monthly and quarterly meetings when we tell people where we are going. We tell people what’s happening to the company, we talk about wins.

Know who you want to hire. We start by trying to define what we want. When you say people and hiring, you have to define where, what, when. What are they going to do, what are you looking for?

What we try to do is find the strengths that we want in a particular position. Then, when we’re looking for people, we try to focus on those strengths. When we start interviewing people, we try to find out if they have those strengths.

We ask a varied group of people to sit in on the interviews. If someone comes in for a job in credit, they’ll meet with someone from credit, but they’ll also meet with people from administrative. They’ll meet with some of our salespeople. Everybody has to get along, and we have to be able to call impromptu meetings very quickly to get a win.

We try to have interdisciplinary interviews to see how they fit with the group to see if they make sense, to see if they’re grounded, they’re consistent. And then we can all give our input at the end of the day.

It’s good for the candidates, too, because it gives them a varied view of the company. It lets them know more about what they’re getting into, so the chances of keeping them and keeping the turnover down are very good.

In general, if I’m hiring a salesperson, our salespeople meet with our credit people. Our credit people want to know that they’re dealing with someone that has some experience and knows what it’s all about.

On the same hand, the salesman wants to know that he has a credit person with good ears or that can process that transaction at the right expectation level. It’s about knowing what you’re buying and what you’re getting into.

HOW TO REACH: National City Commercial Capital, (800) 559-2755 or