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  • Karl Keller

Convert PPP Loan Applications into Lifelong Customers

Community Banks and Credit Unions have processed thousands of PPP loans as fast as humanly possible during the past few weeks. The success stories generated by bankers working nights and weekends have been reported by television, newspapers, and across online social networks. Getting money in the hands of small businesses that can best utilize the resource is the first phase of the program. The forgiveness phase will be extremely important for community banks to execute successfully as small businesses look to obtain forgiveness for loan balances or end up paying back the remaining loan balances over a 24-month period.

As you expected, PPP loan applications at your community bank or credit union were not just taken up by existing customers. You had small businesses show up at your doorstep (or electronic doorstep) that have never been banked by your financial institution. This is a great opportunity to build your small business deposit and loan portfolios by showing them how a community organization differs from the large banks.

So, what is your plan to retain the new business customers?

Right now, your new PPP loan customer is extremely grateful for the loan to help them weather the storm. Lets make sure we keep them as a customer as the new loan program wraps up. Here are a few activities you can do right now to convert your PPP loan applicant into a lifelong customer relationship:

  1. Communicate with your applicant. You just deposited a check into their account. Now is not the time to stop talking with your new customer but instead it is the time to start a conversation with your new customer. Setup and execute a small business onboarding program to learn more, keep them educated on the forgiveness requirements, and answer any questions. We recommend at least three personalized calls by your financial institution during the next 6-8 weeks from the start of their loan. Each call should focus on better understanding them as individuals as well as business challenges so that your institution can help provide recommendations and advice.

  2. Communicate with your applicant again! Setup a weekly webinar so your new customers can attend to hear exactly what is expected for loan forgiveness. Yes, we know some of the details are still wet ink on paper and subject to change however by spending time effectively communicating the rules of the program, your small business client can best understand the loan forgiveness program. The last thing we want to do at the end of the day is to have a customer that is unhappy with the loan forgiveness amounts because they did not understand what they had to document to obtain forgiveness.

  3. Standardize your loan forgiveness documents. Make life simple and easy for your customer by providing standardized (Excel) templates so they know what information they need to collect for forgiveness and show them the format you want returned. The forgiveness process is going to consume large amounts of time from your staff for the next 6-8 months. By providing templates and examples to your small businesses on how you want them to provide the forgiveness documentation, this will save your institution time and effort in the long run. Plus, the businesses want the loan forgiveness to be processed quickly just like you do, so why not encourage and direct your new customer to use your templates to provide the documentation.

  4. Ask for their Business. Setup a face-to-face meeting for a future date. When you are talking to your new customer on the phone, now is the time to book a future face-to-face meeting. Have them get out their calendar and book the meeting. Follow up the call with an email invitation and reminder. We understand now is not a great time to have face-to-face meetings due to social distancing, however setup a future date that is several weeks out on the calendar. Tell them you want to visit them to see how they are getting along. Branch managers get out of the office and visit! You just saved their business. Take credit for helping save their small business and enjoy the opportunity to help them move the rest of their existing banking accounts over to your institution. Ask for the business.

For more information on how you can convert your PPP applications into lifelong customer relationships, visit us at

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