Get Your Business in Gear for the New Year

HappyNewYear

The new year can mean many things for your business. What will the next 12 months look like? Do you have goals for your business and how you plan to get there? Now is the time to review your past financial performance and make plans for the upcoming year.

With this in mind, we’ve put together five financial New Year’s resolutions to help your business make this one of the best years yet.

1. Review Last Year’s Financial Highlights

How did your business perform this past year? At the most basic level, you should review your business income, expenses, profit and sales.

In addition, ask yourself these questions:

  • How do these numbers compare to last year? Are they better or worse and by how much?
  • Do these numbers align with my business projections for the upcoming year? Why or why not? Are there new income or expenses that should be accounted for?
  • In what area(s) of my business did I see the most growth?
  • What lessons can I learn from last year’s business data?

2. Set New Goals
Goal setting does not have to be complicated, especially now that you’ve taken the time to review key numbers from the past year.

It’s as simple as writing down 2 or 3 things you’d like to see your business achieve this year. It could be a goal to reduce expenses in a certain area, to produce a new product or hire additional expertise.

The most important part about goal setting is to be specific so you can measure your success throughout the year. Attaching time frames, numbers, steps it will take to meet your goal and other details can help you know if you’re on track or not.

Once you’ve established your goals, here’s a fun way to keep them top of mind from the SCORE business blog.*

3. Update Software and Processes

Payroll and other business processes can be affected by the change to a new year. Make sure your systems are up-to-date and ready for the new year. It’s also a great time to review your security protocol and procedures, especially if your business collects personal information from your customers.

4. Check in With Your Business Team
Catch up with your accountant, tax advisor, lawyer and banker at the beginning of the new year. Communication between you and your team of expert advisors can be crucial to your business’s success. After all, they want your business to succeed just as much as you do.

“During this time of the year, I like to check in with my business customers and see how they felt about the past year’s performance and what’s on tap for the upcoming year,” said Mike Swanson, Commercial Banking Officer in Hastings. “For example, what went well for them last year and what didn’t? Are there any new opportunities or internal changes coming? It’s about keeping the lines of communication open, so I can provide the best solutions going forward.”

As you share your upcoming business plans, your team can also provide updates on things that may affect your business. For example, there may be new taxes or loan programs, changes to business laws and much more.

5. Celebrate Small Successes

We’ve saved this resolution for last, but it’s certainly one of the most important – you deserve to celebrate your business’s successes. Being a small business owner can feel like a never-ending job, so take a minute to give yourself (and your team) some kudos. Celebrating small successes are the steps to celebrating larger ones!

Our team of Commercial & Ag Bankers and Treasury Management Specialists are ready to talk about your business plans. Visit our website to meet our local experts.

 

*By clicking above you will be linking to another website not owned or operated by Merchants Bank, NA. Merchants Bank, NA is not responsible for the availability or content of this website and does not represent either the linked website or you, should you enter into a transaction. We encourage you to review their privacy and security policies which may differ from Merchants Bank, NA.

Merchants Bank’s 10 Days of Giving Food Drive Kicks Off 31st Year

10DaysGeneric-Blog

Merchants Bank kicked off the 31st annual 10 Days of Giving food drive on Monday morning. The drive runs December 1-10 and benefits the food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services (WVS). Through the first 30 years, more than 3.5 million pounds of food have been collected.

Co-chairs Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg will be leading 10 Days efforts this year. Joining them at the kick-off press conference were Merchants Bank Winona and Southern Regions President Andrew Guzzo, WVS Executive Director Sandra Burke, Winona Mayor Mark Peterson and other participants. The drive was kicked off this year with a $10,000 donation from Steve Craney, in memory of his late wife, Gina Craney.

“We honored to coordinate this campaign and are so grateful to the Winona community for their generosity. It is so inspiring to see the involvement from schools and local businesses, as well as all of our community members,” said Guzzo.

Last year, the 10 Days of Giving campaign collected 254,075 pounds of food. Two pounds of food are calculated for each dollar brought in. One area that keeps improving is the amount of monetary donations that are brought in to support the drive.

“We value and appreciate any donation, but as a food shelf, our monetary dollars go farther at the grocery store than an individual’s,” said Burke. “What that means is, Winona Volunteer Services can purchase $50.00 worth of food with just $15.00.”

Burke said there continues to be a need in the area. Through the end of 2018, an average number of 751 households were registered for the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services and more than 3,000 individuals were served. Another 1,132 people were helped at the Emergency food shelf. Last year WVS distributed 499,272 pounds of food. Additionally, 393 elementary students received healthy weekend snacks during the 2018-19 school year.

Joining Andrew Guzzo, Sandra Burke and Mark Peterson giving the ceremonial “First Gift of Food” were Christian Kline, a first-grade student at Washington-Kosciusko Elementary School and Payton Kammerer, a third-grade student at St. Stanislaus Elementary School.

As in the past, Merchants will be collecting at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area (view a full list at www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving). For questions, please call Jennifer Welch at (507) 457-1108 or Dawn Stenberg at (507) 457-1109. Monetary donations can be made out to 10 Days of Giving and can be mailed to, or dropped off at Merchants Bank, 102 E. 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987. If you would like to make a donation online, visit the Winona Volunteer Services website. Indicate “10 Days of Giving” after entering your name.

The 10 Days of Giving food drive is an annual community collaboration between Merchants Bank and Winona Volunteer Services to make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry each winter. Since 1989, the drive has collected more than 3.5 million pounds of food and helped thousands of people in Winona County. In addition to the Winona drive, other Merchants Bank locations partner with their respective local food shelf in a similar effort. To learn more about the 10 Days of Giving in your area, visit www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving.

Jerad Brown Promoted To Commercial/Ag Banking Officer

BrownJared

Jerad Brown has been promoted to Commercial/Ag Banking Officer according to Ken Graner, Market President for Merchants Bank in Lanesboro and Rushford.

“Jerad goes above and beyond to build personal relationships with his ag and business customers. It’s important to him to understand the unique aspects of each business or farming operation so he can recommend financing solutions that make sense and help the business reach their goals,” said Graner.

Brown has been in the banking industry since 2015 and began his career as a credit analyst. In 2017, he joined Merchants Bank in Lanesboro and Rushford as a Commercial and Ag Banker. He has a degree in Agricultural Science from South Dakota State University. Brown is a Rushford native and graduated from Rushford-Peterson High School.

“Getting to know my customers and visit their operations is the best part of my job. I like working with my friends and neighbors and knowing that I’m making a positive impact on our local economy,” noted Brown.

Since 2013, Merchants Bank has been a community partner in Rushford and Lanesboro, helping individuals and businesses achieve their financial goals. With an expertise in personal and business deposit account solutions and business and ag financing, Merchants has been fortunate to have a hand in growing the local economy. In addition to traditional banking services, the Bank also offers a full line of business loan, lease and floor plan finance solutions, digital banking, security apps, treasury management tools and wealth management services.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations and one loan production office in southeastern Minnesota and two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $2 billion in assets and was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Jennifer Welch, Dawn Stenberg Named 10 Days of Giving Co-Chairs

10DaysGeneric-Blog

Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg have again been named co-chairs for Merchants Bank’s 2019 10 Days of Giving food drive, which runs December 1-10. The effort, which benefits food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services (WVS), will be celebrating its 31st year. To date, more than 3.5 million pounds of food have been collected.

“It is a privilege for Merchants Bank to once again coordinate this effort on behalf of Winona Volunteer Services.  We are thankful for the generosity of the Winona community over the last 30 years in supporting this annual campaign,”said Regional President Andrew Guzzo.

Last year’s campaign featured a variety of events in the Winona community, including fundraising days at local restaurants, the Holiday Lighted Parade, the Holiday Concert for the Hungry and the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. The campaign raised 254,075 pounds of food for WVS. It was the campaign’s second-highest total in its 30-year history.

“It is a very real need that our friends and neighbors in our community have for the support that WVS provides. It is an honor to be a co-chair for this beneficial campaign and we have an incredible team and community that makes this event a success,” Welch said. Welch is a Treasury Management Specialist as well as the Bank’s Events and Adventures Coordinator. She is serving her sixth year as co-chair.

There continues to be a need in the area. Through the end of 2018, an average number of 751 households were registered for the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services and more than 3,000 individuals were served. Another 1,132 people were helped at the Emergency food shelf. Last year WVS distributed 499,272 pounds of food. Additionally, 393 elementary students received healthy weekend snacks during the 2018-19 school year.

“I am thrilled to be back again as a co-chair for 10 Days of Giving,” Stenberg said, a Mortgage Lender and in her second year serving as co-chair. “It’s wonderful to see community members come out to support WVS and their mission to help our neighbors in their times of need.”

As in the past, Merchants will be collecting at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. For questions, please call Dawn Stenberg at (507) 457-1109 or Jennifer Welch at (507) 457-1108. Monetary donations can be made out to 10 Days of Giving and mailed to, or dropped off at Merchants Bank, 102 E. 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987. If you would like to make a donation online, visit the Winona Volunteer Services website: www.winonavs.org. Indicate “10 Days of Giving” after entering your name.

The 10 Days of Giving food drive is an annual community collaboration between Merchants Bank and Winona Volunteer Services to make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry each winter. Since 1989, the drive has collected more than 3,000,000 pounds of food and helped thousands of people in Winona County. In addition to the Winona drive, other Merchants Bank locations partner with their respective local food shelf in a similar effort. To learn more about the 10 Days of Giving in your area, visit http://www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Announces Earnings of $14,460,000 through Third Quarter of 2019, Pays 75 Cents Per Share Dividend

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI), the parent Company for Merchants Bank, N.A., and the First National Bank of Northfield, announced net income through the third quarter of $14,460,000 according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

“The community banking profession is one of the most rewarding, especially when we’re able to support our communities and serve local businesses and individuals by being a strong, stable financial institution,” said Evans. “Our strong earnings performance so far in 2019 enables us to do just that.”

As a result of continued profitable performance, the MFGI Board of Directors authorized a semiannual dividend of 75 cents per share to shareholders during its October meeting, a 7.1% increase from the June dividend payment. Dividends will be paid in December to shareholders of record as of November 22.

Net income is ahead of MFGI’s plan for 2019 by $2.64 million and $673,000 above 2018 earnings. Contributing to the overall positive third quarter performance, each of Merchants Bank’s four regions and its Secondary Market Mortgage division exceeded their 2019 third quarter plans. MFGI also made significant strategic progress in the third quarter, including closing on the purchase of the First National Bank of Northfield on August 30.

“A definite highlight of our third quarter was the addition of First National Bank. Our team at Merchants has now been bolstered by an incredible team in Northfield and we’re proud to have them officially under the Merchants umbrella,” said Evans.

Merchants is proud to continue its tradition of community leadership through charitable contributions and employee volunteerism. Through September, MFGI donated to 413 local organizations and its employees have volunteered more than 12,000 hours to local communities.

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its nearly 500 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 19 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. The acquisition of the First National Bank brought an additional two banking offices in Northfield and a loan production office in Bloomington, MN. Headquartered in Winona, MN, Merchants Financial Group, Inc. now has more than $2 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875. Member FDIC.

Adrian A. Quilling Promoted To Mortgage Lender

Adrian Quilling, Mortgage Lender

Adrian A. Quilling has been promoted to Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Rosemount, according to Michelle Selig, Branch Manager.

“Adrian already has a background in home loans and loves helping our customers, especially during important life stages. His new role as a Mortgage Lender will be a great fit for him and a benefit to those looking to buy or build homes in the Rosemount area,” said Selig.

Quilling has been with Merchants Bank since 2018 when he started as a Customer Service Representative and Lending Assistant. Prior to joining Merchants, he was a Universal Banker at Old National Bank (formerly Anchor Bank) and has experience in personal banking and lending, including deposit accounts, mortgages and personal loans.

“I’m excited to now be a complete financial partner for individuals and families – whether it’s showing them the right tools and accounts to meet personal savings goals or guiding them through the home loan process,” said Quilling.

You can get to know more about Quilling on the Merchants Bank website by visiting http://www.merchantsbank.com/aquilling.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations and one loan production office in southeastern Minnesota and two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $2 billion in assets and was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to credit approval.

 

How to Tell if a Website is Legitimate

Computer Security

If you’re one of the 209.6 million Americans who shop online,* it’s important to take steps to verify the legitimacy of a company website before placing an order. Here are five tips to help you determine if a website is legitimate.

1. Can you easily find the company’s full contact information?

You should be able to locate the business’s full name, physical address, telephone number and email address. In addition, if you call the telephone number listed, make sure you can reach a live person who can verify details about the business.

Red Flag = You cannot find the company’s contact information.

2. Is there a Terms and Conditions web page?

Find the Terms and Conditions page on the website and read it carefully to understand company products, return policies and more.

Red Flag = You cannot find the company’s Terms and Conditions page.

3. Does the site accept secure payments?

If the company wants to accept secure payments with a credit card, they must use SSL security which properly encrypts your payment and personal information. Websites with SSL security have a website address that begins with “https” instead of “http.” For example, https://www.merchantsbank.com.

Red Flag = The company’s site does not accept secure payments.

4. Is the site design and information professional?

Review the site for typos, errors, misspellings, stolen images and more.

Red Flag = The company’s site contains any of the above.

5. What happens when you Google search the company’s name?

Type the company name into Google and read related customer reviews, feedback and articles.

Red Flag = Bad feedback or customer experiences.

Visit the FTC Consumer website for information on current website scams.

*http://www.statista.com/statistics/183755/number-of-us-internet-shoppers-since-2009/