Net Savings Featured

8:00pm EDT August 28, 2005
Most business owners log onto Internet banking services to review their transaction histories. Viewing cashed checks and double-checking deposits online saves time and provides the most up-to-date account information.

But online banking services provide more than account history, and few small- and medium-sized business owners take advantage of more sophisticated services, including online bill payment, payroll and wire transfers, and stop-payment requests.

The tools are high-tech, but online systems are user-friendly. If you can navigate the Internet or point-and-click your way through the Web, you can utilize online banking services that will save you time and money. The key is to know what services are available so you can get down to business.

A safe way to save time
Many business owners are accustomed to weekly or even daily trips to their bank branches. They conduct transactions in person — whether deposits, transfers or withdrawals — and leave with a receipt, or proof, for their records.

Imagine the time you would save if you could eliminate this business errand and bank from your desk. Rather than waiting in line, you could allocate that time to building your business’s bottom line. Online access to transaction history means no more waiting for voicemail and automatic response systems typical of most banks. While these customer service offerings are convenient, they also consume more time than simply logging on to an online account to review records. But what about the receipt? In fact, online banking is safe, secure and still provides users with transaction records they can print and retain for reference. And because Internet banking access is limited to associates with password information, business owners can ensure that the only employees viewing transactions are those with permission. What’s more, online tools provide clear, electronic records of who makes account changes and transactions, and when someone logs on to view transaction history.

Point, click, pay
Monthly utility bills, weekly payments to vendors — writing these checks on a regular basis is labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive. Consider the online alternative. Rather than stocking paper checks, approving and verifying each check for accurate payment information and then expediting the check via mail or messenger, you can point, click and pay.

Set up recurring payments by creating a file for each vendor with information including the payee, address and dollar amount. Online banking tools will automatically pay the bill on time. If you need to change dollar amounts for each pay period, you easily can re-enter the dollar amount. Because these checks are produced and distributed electronically, there is less chance of fraud. Besides, you eliminate the expense of purchase order checks and further limit access to your checking account because you decrease the number of checks written each month.

Download and double-check
While many business owners view their transaction histories online, you can go one step further and actually view and print images of checks written and deposited.

Many banks charge customers who request cancelled checks. Avoid fees and still feed your files with printed versions of checks through Internet banking. View images of checks — front and back — and either download them to save on disc or print hard copies.

Business at your desktop
Today’s business world is dimensional; you communicate with customers by phone, through e-mail and face-to-face. Your relationship with a bank should mirror the way you do business. Besides the ability to access accounts and information over the phone and the personal value of visiting banking professionals in your local branch, Internet banking capabilities round out the portfolio of services financial institutions offer modern business owners.

Craig Johnson is president and CEO of Franklin Bank in Southfield, Mich. Reach him at (248) 386-9860.