Manage Your Business’s Money with These Helpful Tools

ModernFinancesWould you like to better manage your businesses money and make it work harder. With three areas of focus – Tools for Collection, Tools for Disbursement and Tools for Management – Merchants Bank’s Cash Management area – what some banks call Treasury Management – is worth exploring.

Learn more about Tools for Management:

Online Banking – Conveniently view account balances, check images and transactions, transfer funds between your Merchants Bank accounts, create Bill Payments and ACH transactions (subject to Agreements), submit requests for Stop Payments and more.

Positive Pay – Give yourself peace of mind. Positive Pay can help detect fraudulent checks that are being issued on your account.

ACH Blocks and Filters – Control your accounts by ensuring your business checking account isn’t used for unauthorized ACH transactions.

Financial Electronic Data Interchange (FEDI) Reporting – The computerized exchange of payments between your business, your customers and vendors ensures

For more information on Cash Management services, visit our website.

Five Ways to Make Payments for Your Business Easy with Tools for Disbursement

SmallBusinessOwnerOpenSignWould you like to better manage your businesses money and make it work harder. With three areas of focus – Tools for Collection, Tools for Disbursement and Tools for Management – Merchants Bank’s Cash Management area – what some banks call Treasury Management – is worth exploring.

Learn more about Tools for Disbursement:

Direct Deposit – Save time and add convenience by electronically depositing employees’ net payroll into their bank account. Subject to credit approval.

Bill Payment – Using Merchants Online Banking, pay vendors without having to write checks, saving time, postage and resources.

Sweep Accounts – Conveniently do the cash management that you want to do without having to manually request transfers between accounts. Sweeps can also be used to transfer money to or from a Line of Credit to reduce interest expense.

Target Balance Accounts – Better control your cash flow and service charge expense by designating a balance at which you would like a specific account balance to be maintained.

Wire Transfers– Wire transfers allow you to send or receive money from almost anywhere in the world. Funds are collected and available immediately upon receipt.

For more information on Cash Management services, visit our website.

Commercial, Ag and SBA Lending Trends

The economy continues to improve. One indicator we look at in banking is the increase in our lending portfolio.

GraphOur lending portfolio continues to grow at Merchants Bank.

  • Overall our lending portfolio has increased 15.7% through the first three quarter of 2014 compared to the first three quarters of 2013, where we had a very strong year compared to many other financial institutions.
  • Commercial lending increased 16.3% across all of our locations.
  • Ag lending has increased 12.9% and SBA lending has increased 16.3%.

The increase shows our expertise in and commitment to growing these important segments to help make the places we live better.

Contact a Business Banker today to learn more about business financing and leasing options at Merchants Bank. Subject to credit approval.

Six Ways Your Business Can Save More Money

A cost-saving plan to uphold your business budget.

A cost-saving plan to uphold your business budget.

If you own a small business and are on a budget, you’re not alone. Running a company is no inexpensive task. That’s why it’s important to put saving money on the top of your priority list. Cutting costs in every way possible is essential to ensuring that you’re gaining profits.

The good news: saving may be easier than you think. There are tons of ways you can tighten your belt on the job. Try these penny-pinching tips:

Utilize the web - You already know to use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, but also take a look at discussion groups and message boards, too. These groups are a convenient way to get your business’ name out there quickly and easily—all you have to do is sign your name with your web URL. And best of all, it’s free!

“I didn’t start [participating in online discussion groups] to generate business, but as a way to find information for myself on various subjects,” said Shel Horowitz, owner of Accurate Writing & More, Northampton, MA, and author of several marketing books, including Grassroots Marketing. “But it turned out to be the single best marketing tool I use. It costs only my time. [One] list alone has gotten me around 60 clients in the past five years.”

Form relationships with vendors – Being a loyal customer can take you far. When you frequently use a vendor, they’re more likely to let you in on certain deals as they occur or even offer you a reduced price on a regularly bought item.

“In order to approach this, make sure you have the same employee work with the vendor each time you contact them, always contact them in advance, and benefit them whenever you can by referring business to them,” advises Emily Swartz, marketing communications specialist at Broadview Networks. “Even if they don’t cut you deals, having a vendor that’s dependable and consistent is more money-saving than you might think.”

Go paperless – Chances are, the amount spent on paper, ink and postage can add up. If you get rid of it all, over time, you’ll see your savings grow steadily.

“Businesses should shift towards paperless payments for many reasons,” said Mitch Rose, vice president of BillTrust. “Businesses should not be reliant on the USPS for receiving payments. There is already too much going on with the USPS from rising rates, closing of postal locations, lost mail, delays due to disasters or vandalism, etc. Just as important, the cost to a business to apply a paper check payment is significant. They struggle with keying it in, getting the payment deposited in a timely manner and applying the payment to a specific invoice.”

Pay attention to how much you spend on the little things – There are certain small items that may be bought when you’re running a company that are easily overlooked — things like office supplies, cleaning tools, coffee, etc. And although small and not necessarily the most pricy, these items can add up without you ever really noticing. Spending a little extra time searching for good deals on these items can keep these costs from accumulating. Compare prices and also check for free shipping, which many companies offer on bulk items. You may also opt for cleaning the office yourself or save on package-related costs by delivering something to a close-by client. Also, get creative: buy recycled printer cartridges, buy used equipment on craigslist.com, etc.

Don’t overspend on taxes - Sometimes if businesses are new to a location, they’re subject to a higher tax rate. In order to avoid spending too much on taxes, take action.

“Go to city hall to determine what your neighbors are paying, and use this to negotiate a better rate,” suggests Pete Collins of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in NYC. “Expanding businesses can often negotiate with community authorities, who want them to stay in town rather than move and take jobs elsewhere.”

Go green - A double whammy: save money and help the planet. Things like recycling, for one, can help you scrimp and save at the office. “More and more businesses are recognizing the benefits of reducing their waste,” said Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. “Not only can it save businesses money by reducing their overhead (but) recycling (is) good for business and benefits us all.”

Other ways to “go green” include using reusable items like mugs instead of cups for coffee, buying products locally and investing in energy-saving utilities, such as lighting.

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More Area Businesses and Organizations to Help with “10 Days of Giving” Fundraising Efforts

WINONA, Minn. – More area businesses and organizations are stepping up to help with “10 Days of Giving” fundraising efforts. We encourage you to take part in these opportunities and support the 25th anniversary of this wonderful food drive:

  • On Friday, from 4:30-7 p.m., the Eagles Club of Winona, 210 E. 4th Street, will host a fish fry with the help of Merchants Bank volunteers. Cost of the dinner is $8 and includes batter fried or broiled cod, baked potato or fries, coleslaw, roll and coffee. Desserts will be available. Proceeds will benefit the “10 Days of Giving.” Non-perishable food items will also be accepted.
  • From 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Westgate Bowl of Winona will donate 10 percent of its bowling sales to the “10 Days of Giving.” During the same 1-5 p.m. time frame, 10 percent of food sales to Merchants Bank employees will also be donated to the food drive.
  • On Saturday, CrossFit Warrior Risen, located in the Winona Mall, will donate the donations it receives from three classes during the day to the “10 Days of Giving.” The classes will be at 9:00 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Attendees are asked for a $5 donation to take part. Classes are geared for beginners, but are open to all levels of fitness. Attendees will spend 10-15 minutes stretching and warming up, 10-15 minutes learning the movements, and 10-12 minutes working out. Each class is limited to 20 people. For more information or to enroll, e-mail smsavat@merchantsbank.com.

Merchants Bank also will be donating 5 cents each time a Merchants Bank credit card or debit card is used between November 29 and December 15, up to a total of $10,000, for area food shelves during “Swipe Out Hunger,” the Bank’s second annual Facebook Giveaway. For more information go to merchantsbank.com.

Small Business Administration

SBARefreshENA Business Banker from Merchants Bank will provide specialized support for your specific business financing request. Our numerous business loan program options are designed to meet the specific needs of your business, from a business line of credit to fleet financing.

We are a SBA Preferred Lender, which means we can help qualified applicants right when they need us. We’ll listen and help you with the business loan you need. It’s that simple. Contact a Business Banker today to schedule a free, no obligation review of your business. Work with someone who cares about your business as much as you do. At Merchants Bank, we care about you and what’s right for your business. Loans are subject to credit approval.