Enterprise Bank’s EB-U Invests in Client IQ
An MBA from Harvard or years of the daily grind still cannot prepare you completely for the twists and turns in life, and in banking.
Rules change; people confound; competitors vex; and technology keeps moving the virtual bar.
The ongoing need to learn about, and lean into, the latest advances in the industry and the world at large was the inspiration behind EB-U, a pop-up “university” for clients, prospective clients, staff members and the community launched in 2014 by Enterprise Bank in Allison Park, in the Pittsburgh area.
A recent one-hour “class” streamed live on Facebook featured four panelists discussing the effective use of social media and fielding questions from the audience. A beer-tasting and networking hour preceded the event, delivering not only useful knowledge, but business friendships and a much-needed dose of fun.
EB-U’s educational panel discussions are free, and a reflection of Enterprise Bank’s commitment to its service area and the success of its customers. Offered four times a year, and sometimes more frequently depending on the pace of emerging issues, these class topics mirror and illuminate the news of the day.
Other sessions have been held on the U.S. Department of Labor’s pending changes to overtime regulations and last year’s rancorous presidential election.
The practical lessons help Enterprise customers make the grade.
Bank President and CEO Chuck Leyh, a CPA and past Chairman of PACB, said Enterprise Bank is a unique construct among community banks. Instead of concentrating on home mortgages, or personal lending or savings, they serve small businesses exclusively. Thus, we “turn banking relationship managers into consultants instead of merely purveyors of money.”
He said the bank’s staff function more like financial advisors than cash stashes for clients.
In keeping with that advising role, education becomes an important component in propelling a business on an upward trajectory. He said EB-U is not only enjoyable and educational; it “helps them to be successful.”
David Miller, the bank’s Senior Vice President and Business Development Manager, said other topics offered by EB-U have included health care reform and what “Obamacare” means for businesses, cyber security, and tax planning strategies. One of the most popular topics was on investment real estate, featuring brokers and appraisers.
The forum on the 2016 presidential election successfully avoided the emotional landmines of last year’s bitter election. The bank kept the class bipartisan and focused on small business policy and the people who lead at the local level, said Lori Cestra, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and current PACB board member. Cong. Keith Rothfus (R-12) and state Sen. Jay Costa (D-43) appeared for a debate to present the Democratic and Republican perspectives on issues of the day.
EB-U attendees often number 35 or 40, but they have reached as high as 75, depending on the topic.
The classes are offered at the Enterprise Bank “campus,” which has TVs, a gym for the staff, a large auditorium, and a full-size kitchen. Caterers are hired. Some clients have never missed a session.
“We usually have a good dialogue,” Miller said. “It allows clients to network with each other and to get more business.”
The next event will probably be held in September, he said.
One of the other in-demand classes is a behind-the-scenes tour of the bank.
“This gives our clients insight into why Enterprise Bank is set up the way it is,” Miller said, including why they must require certain financial statements. The event is offered as part of Customer Appreciation Night.
“We show the ‘why’ behind what we require,” Miller said. “When we get critical mass, we will offer it again.”
Cestra acknowledged that, in the public’s mind, a black cloud still hangs over banks in general, in the aftermath of the 2008 meltdown.
“This is one of the ways we differentiate ourselves from the big banks and serve our niche as consultants,” she said.
Leyh said they work with many start-up businesses and businesses in distress, so the risk is higher in servicing this segment.
They often must take real estate as collateral, with risk mitigation closely linked to evaluating real estate and securing guarantees.
Miller said EB-U in particular helps clients who are higher financial risks.
“Education is a mitigant to this,” as much as things like technical support and business development.
Other banks have financial advisors, the bankers said, but, to their knowledge, Enterprise is the only community bank in Pennsylvania offering this type of university for clients.
Enterprising from the Start
Enterprise Bank first opened its doors in October 1998 as the Steel City’s only bank created solely to serve the needs of entrepreneurs.
The bank’s founders were themselves all successful entrepreneurs who saw a gaping vacuum for small business owners in western Pennsylvania. Most community banks were too small to handle the lending demands of a new business, and the mega-banks viewed small businesses as too risky to lend to. They ventured into the void.
Enterprise Bank founders decided to create a bank that understood the needs of this unique group and to offer banking services and business solutions that would develop Pittsburgh’s small businesses in a supportive atmosphere that places the clients’ needs first.
They do so by assigning each business client a unique Relationship Manager who acts not only as a lending officer, but as a business advisor and mentor. With a vested interest in each business, the Relationship Manager cares about the welfare of each business. Each Relationship Manager functions as a small business owner within the bank, and the manager’s fate rises and falls with the successes of the business.
Also unique about Enterprise Bank is that it has only one brick and mortar location. This single-branch operation keeps overhead costs to a minimum, and allows savings to be returned to customers in the form of higher short-term interest rates than many of the bank’s competitors in the Pittsburgh region. To maximize convenience for businesses that are not close by, the bank offers several ways for them to deposit money, get change, and process other transactions from the ease of their own offices.
The most popular is Enterprise Connection, the bank’s online system, which allows business clients to manage their accounts. Enterprise Payment Solutions enables clients to make bank deposits right at their desks.
Enterprise Bank has also continued to evolve into non-traditional banking services. New subsidiaries were created to further enhance the relationship between Enterprise and its clients. They include Enterprise Business Consultants, Inc., Enterprise Insurance Services, and Kuzenski & Lockard, Inc.
Enterprise Business Consultants, Inc. offers outsourced services for accounting/bookkeeping, promotional marketing, and website design, as well as training in each of these three areas of expertise. Enterprise Insurance Services, Inc. provides comparative analyses of various insurance policies, rates, and companies for each business’ needs.
Kuzenski & Lockard, Inc. is a traditional real estate brokerage company that also provides property management services.
These small business services continue to evolve and grow.
Within each subsidiary, new products and services are continually being developed to better serve customers. In the next few years, the bank will have the capability to offer investment management and retirement plans that small business owners can offer to their employees.
Enterprise Bank leaders continue to pride themselves on offering superior customer service in a personable setting. The bank sees itself as an “opportunity to nurture the seedling of a business into a strong and mighty tree.”
According to their website, “Our customers are more than the result of a lending equation. They are the result of Our Conviction that every business deserves the chance to compete and succeed among business giants. It is our belief because that is the story of Our Company.”
The bank is now redesigning its website, and will feature links to the classes. They have the capability to videotape so classes can be streamed live and reach a wider audience.
The Social Media Class
The class on social media featured Missy Sorg of Sidekick Media Services, Douglas Derda of WeSpeke, Katie Dudas of The Scare House and the Pittsburgh Penguin Foundation, and Mike Woycheck of Alloy 26.
The video had 166 views as of June 25.
The educational takeaways included the following:
- Marketing through social media is a must in today’s world. It is the voice of your company; it humanizes your brand; it must be authentic.
- You are one social media post away from disaster.
- Facebook and Twitter are an inexpensive way to get your voice out there, as are blogs and podcasts.
- A new company should start its social media presence on Facebook. The reach is greater and longer than Twitter, and posts re-appear in your timeline.
- The impact of Twitter is more time-limited. Studies show that you only have 25 minutes to make an impression, on average; it’s a constant conversation. It’s real-time and news-oriented.
- Instagram interfaces well with Facebook.
- Consider what platform fulfills your goal. Ask yourself—Where is my audience?
- Google Plus, while not used by many people, is used often by journalists, which may be a key audience for you.
- Twitch, Snapchat, Youtube, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite are popular platforms. You can even schedule your posts.
- Listen to conversations out there to help people with their questions and needs, and to establish yourself as an expert.
- You can buy ads on Google or Twitter to target your audience.
- Try to be a trending topic on Twitter, with keywords, which amounts to free advertising.
- One of the biggest social media mistakes businesses make is not paying attention to social media. You may not know someone is complaining about your service online to hundreds of friends. And don’t schedule tweets too far ahead. You may seem insensitive if some major world event transpires, and you are posting light-hearted content – or you are posting a “blow-out sale” after an explosion.
- People make so many mistakes on social media. Edgy posts can backfire. Some people try to be quirky and fun, hoping to take off, but there is no surefire way to do that. Consider the uniqueness of Chewbacca Mom, or Wendy’s fast-food’s snarky replies.
- Blogs are perpetual. Incorporate them into Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Linked In and more.
- Succinct email blasts can be very effective, with links to added details. Encourage people to sign up at live events, through your website and more.
- Making your social media mobile-friendly is important.
- Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and other email blast list services can help you see open rates and click-through rates.
- Don’t give up too soon. Give it at least six weeks to see if your campaign works.
- Google Analytics is a wonderful free tool. You can see where people search next and then make adjustments in your strategies.
- Search yourself and your business – but don’t search as yourself on Google Chrome.
- Google AdWords helps you ensure the right people are getting your ads.
- Have conversations with people. Twitter is a conversation, so don’t be the guest who stands in the corner at the party. Don’t give up if you don’t go viral right away.
- Determine your own metrics. Some businesses will say they want 100 Facebook likes or 1,000 ticket sales in a month, but you must be realistic.
- Connect with people who have many followers. It will help you get noticed and help you grow your network.
- Don’t buy followers.
- Put your blog posts on LinkedIn.
- Facebook can advertise to your email list. It can get very granular and be very powerful.
- Listen for your brand on social media. Respond if needed.
- Keep your content fresh. If you can’t keep up with Twitter, for example, don’t do it. Give people a reason to like you, such as offer Facebook-only coupons, or promo codes. If you don’t post often, people will think you are out of business.
Service with a Smile
EB-U is only one way the bank helps its business clients and its community on the path to success.
The bank also lends a helping hand to an array of community organizations. They support the YMCA and formed an educational foundation that grants scholarships to high school students on the road to college. They offer a paid internship in the summer of a college student’s junior year. Then they pay for the intern’s senior year of college. Two of the bank’s interns have been hired full-time.
The Big Lesson for Other Banks
Miller said the university concept may not work for every community bank because Enterprise serves a unique small business niche.
Still, Miller urges banks to “keep your ears open to what’s what being talked about. Everyone is interested in what is causing them pain. Pain points are what we pay attention to.”
The bank works to relieve that pain through education as a free and uplifting remedy.
“Our board members and staff pride ourselves on our mission to help small business because we saw a need for banking to be more small-business friendly. EB-U fits in so nicely with our original mission,” Cestra said. “We have a unique ability to reach them. We can help them and they can help us.”
It has been known for centuries that universities contribute to economic growth. This micro-university is one especially targeted to the economic growth of its clients and its home region.
EB-U is a safe haven that prepares students already in the “real world” for the world to come, always keeping growth and prosperity as a core curriculum.