BusinessUNusual Company Spotlight: Dave Carroll, Banner Bank

Today’s Business UNusual interview is with Dave Carroll of Banner Bank. I asked him to join me today because Banner Bank is definitely a “Business UNusual” company. (For more on Business UNusual, click the link here).

JENNY: Hello, Dave. Thank you for being with me today. Tell me a bit about Banner Bank—the history; how it got started, etc.

DAVE: Banner Bank opened in 1890. It’s 125 years old this year! It is based in Walla Walla, WA. In the beginning, it was a commercial bank. And, with the exception of investment services, it’s evolved into a full service, consumer and business bank. Our products include personal and business deposit services; commercial real estate; agriculture; construction; residential mortgage loans and all types of consumer and small business loans and lines of credit.

Currently, Banner Bank is in three states (WA, OR, ID) with 103 branches. By the end of Q4 2015, we’ll have 200 branches and be located in five states, adding CA and UT.

JENNY: A lot of banks are called “community banks” now. My sense is that this term has lost some of its original meaning or intent. How do you define “community bank” and how does Banner fit a true example of that?

DAVE: This is a really good question—I’m so glad you asked. The word “community” has certainly lost some of its original meaning. It’s been overused. Banks consistently use this common title but rarely act the part – the ‘part’ that involves the intentional and purposeful effort to participate with their clients around the community, in a variety of ways.

The term community banker is not just a title. It’s the way you communicate, it’s the way you respond to situations, and it’s the way you partner with those around you – the community. Do you integrate with your prospects, your circles of influence, your current clients and your non-profit organizations? That’s what speaks directly to the title on a card. It isn’t something that you say you do. It’s something that you do, and if you don’t, you’re not.

JENNY: As you know, I’ve written a book called “Your Dream Team: How to Start and Run a Mastermind Group”. That book’s about how to create a team from scratch; however, it also has principles for pre-existing teams that match what I’ve seen you apply to your branch team. As a leader, you’re responsible for the welfare and productivity of your team. What are some of the ways that you approach building and strengthening your team?

DAVE: First of all, I commend you for asking that question. That is a question of leadership. If you’re going to grow and thus be successful – to have what I call a “happy business”, then it begins with happy employees (not happy customers). When you spend time with the people you work with, it’s vital to truly learn about them. For example, discovering what excites and drives them (goals & dreams); what are their hot buttons and which of their natural strengths show up every day at work builds trust and a more unified team of “happy employees”. From there, each person on your team is in the right role – roles they look forward to and excel at every day. When you can align your team in this fashion, I promise you’ll enjoy happy employees, who connect with happy clients and build your happy business.

Get to know what makes them tick. Everyone wants to be recognized and acknowledged. And everyone is different when it comes to praise. Learn about how to create a culture of appreciation. I’ve found the most awesome resources to do just that! If you want to know more please reach out to me and I’ll be glad to share them with you. Start by saying “thank you” in different ways. At work, you’re a business family and it’s time to get to know each other better.

JENNY: What do people need to know today about how to select the right bank?
Everyone needs banking; everyone needs a banker, whether you are a business entity or a personal consumer. Here are two key things to look for:
1. A banker who wants to invest in a relationship with you. Define “trusted advisor” and how both will work together to create success. The best banker will have a few good stories to share with you! I realize that there are a few clients who aren’t seeking a relationship but I’ve found that the great majority are.
2. Check out the online reviews for the particular bank and the LinkedIn profile for the particular banker. You will learn a lot from this exercise.

JENNY: Is there anything else you’d like to add to our conversation today?

DAVE: I feel strongly that the whole banking at large conversation is not really about a product or a service. It’s about developing relationships: how to help and support people; who to connect them to. It’s about being proactive. That’s what it’s all about – creating value. Everything else will fall into tow when you commit to building the relationships. I think you would agree that every bank has the same basic products and services. However, you don’t bank with the bank – you bank with the people.

JENNY: I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said here, Dave. Both you and Banner Bank are living, breathing examples of what’s possible in the banking world. It’s sorely missing today. Thank you for taking the time to have a conversation with me about this.

If you’re interested in learning more about Banner Bank, contact Dave Carroll at (425) 739-1043. Also, check out this article on “Washington’s Top Banks” from the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Banner Bank: They’ve put the community back into banking.

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