Small business owners still remain concerned about access to capital and making sure that they have access to the best solutions for improving their cash flow and finances.
So what specific financial solutions can truly help small businesses throughout the state grow and prosper?
Smart Business spoke with California Bank & Trust Executive Vice President Betty Rengifo Uribe about ways small business owners can leverage some helpful financial solutions to save money and streamline operations.
What specific types of financial solutions should small business owners be considering right now?
There are several different solutions that many business owners can use to improve their finances.
Since access to capital is still a critical issue for many small business owners, entrepreneurs should consider a wide range of solutions, including loans, lines of credit, leases and, perhaps most importantly, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans that may offer very favorable rates and terms.
Beyond that, any solution that can help grow revenues and streamline operations is worth a further look. Some of the most useful include: merchant services, business credit cards and remote deposit.
How can small businesses use merchant services to their best advantage?
Any business, large or small, should be offering customers as many payment options as possible. With the right merchant services solutions and technology, you can accept credit cards, debit cards and even gift cards.
What’s your advice for using business credit cards?
One of the best cases for using a business credit card is that it allows you to keep your business expenses completely separate from your personal expenses. With many cards, you will receive detailed reports of expenses that are already sorted by categories. That can make it a lot easier for both you and your accountant during tax season — saving time and resources.
Many small business owners have cards issued to employees. You have to be careful and monitor spending, but imagine how much easier it is for employees to pay their expenses with a credit card instead of dealing with the tedious paperwork of requesting reimbursement checks. This allows your employees more time to focus on their core job responsibilities.
Additionally, you get the usual benefits of credit cards, such as various rewards programs, a credit line that you’re able to access and protection against fraud for purchases made with the card.
What is remote deposit, and how does it help small business owners?
Business owners and their employees need to make the best use of their time. One way to do that is to avoid frequent trips to the bank to make deposits.
With remote deposit, you can deposit checks right from your office. You simply scan checks and they’re automatically deposited into your account. That means you can make deposits anytime — on weekends or in the evening — which can give you an extended deposit window for crediting funds to your account.
Remote deposit also allows you to store images of checks electronically so there’s no need to store physical copies of deposited items.
What do you say to business owners who don’t see value in solutions like these?
Time and time again these solutions and others really move the needle in terms of streamlining operations and enhancing revenue opportunities. Not every solution fits every business, of course, but with a wide range of choices, your business banker can help you customize solutions that address your goals and add more value to your business.
Betty Rengifo Uribe is executive vice president at California Bank & Trust.
Website: Helpful resources for small businesses.
Insights Banking & Finance is brought to you by California Bank & Trust
Seventy percent of business-to-business payments are made by check, according to a 2012 Aite Group survey. Also, nearly six out of 10 consumers in the U.S. used checks for at least some payments in 2010, according to the Bank Administration Institute.
With checks still an integral part of business, remote deposit capture allows your company to deposit checks immediately upon receipt without the need to visit the bank to make deposits.
“Clients can scan checks and send an image of those deposits to the bank for posting from the convenience of their office,” says Korlin Scott, senior vice president and director of Commercial Product Management at FirstMerit Bank. “This eliminates the need to make physical deposits, which provides significant time savings for businesses.”
As payment technologies continue to evolve, remote deposit capture has become an integral component in the collection process. Enhancements in mobile technologies have also opened the door for flexible alternatives to capture and submit checks for deposit, he says.
Smart Business spoke with Scott about how this banking technology can fit your business needs.
How can businesses use remote deposit capture most effectively to save time and money?
Remote deposit capture is a low-cost solution to streamline the collection of check payments and provides a significant opportunity for businesses to create efficiencies in their payment collection processes.
There can be significant cost savings for businesses on a number of fronts. Remote deposit capture allows businesses to reduce their transportation costs of making deposits at a branch and reduce employee time away from work. Perhaps more importantly, businesses can save time by leveraging services that streamline routine activities and allow them to focus on revenue-generating activity.
What are some best practices to follow with this technology?
One of the biggest benefits with remote deposit capture is that it allows deposits to be made from remote locations, but still lets businesses centrally manage deposit reporting and reconcilement. Since deposits are consolidated, business can see dramatic improvements to reconciling payments and make the process of researching deposits much simpler.
Companies also can take advantage of later deposit times, which provides convenience and the flexibility to incorporate the service into their daily business processes. They gain faster access to funds without the security risks of making physical deposits at the bank.
What have banks done to reduce the risk of fraud with remote deposit capture?
Banks are well equipped to manage risks associated with check processing and take numerous steps to mitigate fraud. Since remote deposit capture often provides accelerated clearing, this can help to reduce the risk of fraud by allowing returned check deposits to be identified sooner.
With remote deposit capture, it is critical, however, that businesses also take certain precautions to prevent loss. The most effective measure is to ensure that businesses have strong, effective control measures in place to limit their exposure to monetary risk. These include implementation of policies and procedures for use in remote deposit capture as well as security measures for handling checks after scanning and deposit.
Are there, or will there be, new features available with remote deposit capture?
As technology continues to evolve, the features and enhancements to remote deposit capture will continue to expand. Mobile technology promises to offer unique opportunities for business with respect to collection of check payments. As banks introduce the ability to deposit checks using smartphones, business can benefit from both reduced scanning equipment costs as well as flexibility to deposit payments for services on location, which will be particularly useful for business that receive payment on the road.
Korlin Scott is senior vice president and director of Commercial Product Management at FirstMerit Bank. Reach him at (330) 996-6496 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights Banking & Finance is brought to you by FirstMerit Bank