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Focus on these strategies for business growth

Focus on these 3 business strategies and you'll be primed for growth.

If you’re like many business leaders, you went into your line of work because you wanted a meaningful career, the ability to share your passion with others, and the opportunity to make a real difference among your customers and in your community. It takes hard work and courage to go after your dreams. To continue to grow and thrive — especially when faced with disruptions outside your control — you’ll want to pay special attention to these three strategies that have helped a lot of companies achieve long-term success. They’ll help you, too.

Build business relationships.

Building strong relationships puts allies in your corner. They often understand your business, care about your success and want to support your vision. Some important relationships to nurture are obvious, like those with your customers and employees. You can’t grow without them. But what about building your personal board of trustees? These would be the mentors, friends, colleagues, peers and industry leaders you respect. It’s particularly helpful to have advisors you can turn to for guidance who have strengths that differ from your own. Maybe your strength is seeing the big picture, while theirs is managing the details. Vendors, as allies in business, can play an important role in the success of your organization as well.

Another important bond? The relationship you forge with your financial partner. It’s especially instrumental during a market or economic disruption. In fact, your business banking team should be built for this. They have the resources and tools to help you get through times of crisis and recover. In many cases, they can help you not just survive, but thrive.

That’s what happened with Stacy Bragg who operates two pediatric occupational therapy businesses in southwestern Illinois. She’s been a customer of Commerce Bank since her days as an occupational therapy student at Washington University. That relationship saved her businesses when a shelter-in-place order for COVID-19 took effect, bringing everything she had built over the past 17 years to a stop.

Feeling scared, alone, and confused, she reached out to Commerce Bank, which she says became the bright spot for her during the pandemic — even working through the weekend to ensure she was taken care of.

“I worked directly with Commerce Bank’s branch manager and small business specialist in Clayton,” she says. “They were the first to send me a checklist of the paperwork required for a PPP loan. They were the first to give me concrete answers on what the process would look like, and they were also the first to calm my fears. I cannot praise Commerce enough for all they did for me. It didn’t matter to bankers whether my loan was large or small. They took great care of me when I needed it most.”

Increase your value to customers and vendors.

Your business most likely provides a product or service that your customers could get elsewhere. So how do you increase your value, so your customers won’t be tempted by a competitor? Often it’s the ability to anticipate a need they may have, investigate and solve a problem for them, or deliver such exceptional service, they’d never want to leave.

Progressive Insurance did all these things. They knew their customers’ lives and finances would be improved if they could receive their insurance disbursements more efficiently. The company set out to provide faster, more convenient reimbursement options to their customers. They turned to the problem solvers at Commerce Bank for a solution.

The result: The company and bank innovated together to implement CommercePayments® PreferPay® for Claims Payments, a solution that provides customers, claimants and service providers with multiple claims payment options including ACH, check or direct-to-debit card via Visa Direct. With the Visa Direct functionality, customers can now receive an insurance claim payout to their eligible debit and prepaid card, in real time. By reducing cycle time and improving customer satisfaction, Progressive has added value to the customer experience.

“We’re excited to offer our customers more options for faster claim payments,” said Cory Freier, Business Systems Manager at Progressive. “Whether the payment helps with repairs or much-needed medical treatment, a quick, convenient claims payment is a critical step in helping our customers get back to their routine as soon as possible.”

Another company dedicated to adding value to the customer experience is Excela Health, an award-winning, three-hospital health system serving southwestern Pennsylvania. This healthcare organization’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of every life they touch. That care extends all the way to the payment process, because efficiency and strong vendor relationships impact the overall patient experience.

To improve Excela’s systems and processes, the accounts payable department worked with Commerce Bank to implement CommerceHealthcare® Payment Hub. This service helps Excela Health maintain all vendor-assigned payment types, manage vendor information, facilitate payments and create a reconciliation file back to ERP systems.

Additionally, optimizing suppliers’ payment types generates revenue for Excela Health. Payment Hub also provides the health system with fraud oversight, handles suppliers’ calls and questions, reduces manual tasks and increases staff efficiency.

"The Commerce team quadrupled the number of suppliers enrolled in automatic payments which significantly increased our efficiency in Accounts Payable,” said Mark Schneider, Excela Health Corporate Controller.

"Commerce Bank has been an outstanding banking partner, assisting Excela Health in the automation of accounts payable, which has promoted staff efficiency and significantly increased rebate realization through P-Cards and other forms of electronic payments as alternatives to traditional check payments,” said Thomas Albanesi, Jr., Excela Health Executive Vice President/CFO. “These rebates have provided additional operating revenue that Excela Health has been able to use to support our mission of improving the health and well-being of every life we touch."

Become more resilient.

Your business gets stretched sometimes, especially in the face of a disruption. The ability to bounce back and recover, or pivot and get onto a different path to success is a great display of your resiliency.

Missouri-based Hillyard, a leading manufacturer and distributor of cleaning and hygiene solutions, had to respond quickly in the spring of 2020 to increased demand for the company’s products, which meet the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for use against COVID-19.

Due to higher product demand, and an unanticipated largely remote workforce, the company needed to streamline their accounts payable and accounts receivable processes—and quickly.

They’d already been using Commerce Connections®, a comprehensive, web-based cash management system which helps to manage account reconciliation, but this massive disruption required a turnkey solution for customers who now needed an online option to make payments.

“We assembled a team with CommercePayments® who helped us navigate our changing business needs,” said Jana Hessemyer, Chief Financial Officer. “Within a few weeks, CommercePayments® had us up and rolling with an accounts receivable solution, CollectPay Online®.”

When forces outside your control are forcing you to change, your bank should be prepared to help you through it. It’s important to find a banking partner that is just the right size to be nimble enough to respond quickly to a rapidly changing environment while offering a full suite of services that can address all of your banking needs. Commerce Bank is built for this type of situation. The bank creates a relationship with customers of all sizes to help them with what matters most. They anticipate, investigate, problem-solve and innovate to create solutions built for your particular business. When your bank cares about your success as much as you do, you’ve got a powerful relationship that will steer you through the hurdles ahead, while consistently positioning you for growth.

Does your bank anticipate your needs? Do they take the time to explore your most pressing challenges? The solutions exist. It’s up to you to find a bank that can show you the way.

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