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Impress your bank manager

Richard Holden, Head of Franchising at Lloyds TSB Commercial, discusses the importance of your first meeting with your bank manager

When a successful business with a distinctive, transferable brand decides to expand through franchising, there are inevitable development costs, from market research and running a pilot unit, to compiling the Operations Manual and establishing a training programme.

Firms often need to secure working capital to ensure the expansion does not disrupt the day-to-day running of the business. One-way to guarantee that you receive relevant, sector-specific support and funding is to approach a lender that has a dedicated franchise relationship team. In doing so, your bank manager will have a solid understanding of the challenges that you will face as a franchisor, and can tailor the most appropriate funding to fit your requirements.

Before your first meeting with the bank it is important that a substantial business plan is produced. A considerable amount of time and effort should be put into your proposal, as it is the first introduction the lender will have to your business. The plan should provide a detailed description of the service and products you provide, while outlining your objectives and strategy to turn your reputable brand into a profitable franchise.

It is good practice to send a copy of your business plan to the bank manager two or three days ahead of your appointment to allow them to become familiar with the content. The document should achieve a comfortable balance between being professional yet interesting to the lender, who is looking to invest in a flourishing company that has positive long-term prospects and a determined management team behind it.

As your meeting approaches you should have an excellent understanding of your strategy, and it is commonplace to prepare and practice a script that briefly introduces your business proposal. This projects a professional attitude and offers credibility to your proposition; the depth of your research will allow you to comfortably answer any questions posed. The bank manager will naturally be interested in the operational and financial aspects of your business, and will expect you to be able to respond confidently and accurately.

While, it may seem obvious, it is essential that you are dressed appropriately for the meeting and arrive on time – first impressions count. The combination of a professional approach and a workable strategy delivered by a positive, committed team will put you in a strong position to secure the funding that you need to launch a successful franchise.

We continue to approve 80 per cent of customers’ requests for loans and overdrafts, and we have a range of funding options available, which includes the recently launched ‘Lloyds Funding for Lending.’ This utilises the Government’s Funding for Lending Scheme, and enables businesses to benefit from lowered funding costs on loans, offering a one per cent reduction in the interest rate for new business loans.

Once you have established a relationship with your bank and secured the necessary financial support, it is important to build on this and keep regular communication channels open. Offering updates around the progress of your franchise and the overall performance of the business breeds confidence in your ability to manage your brand through all circumstances, particularly in the current trading environment.

If you set realistic goals and undertake a meticulous planning process, once you have delivered your business plan with confidence and answered all questions knowledgably, you have the basis for a successful relationship with your bank manager as you look to expand into franchising.