DULUTH - Local banking executives Wednesday shared advice on how to obtain a loan at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's Small Business U seminar.
The easiest and probably most welcome suggestion by bank loan officers at the session: Don't wear a suit to visit the loan officer.
"If you're uncomfortable, it's going to make me uncomfortable," said Amy Amorose, a vice president at Quantum National Bank in Suwanee.
Not that there isn't anything more to getting a loan than casual clothes, but it's a start at least.
Amorose also suggested being completely truthful and giving as much information as possible to the bank up front. That includes bringing a bank statement, a business plan and an open mind to the first meeting.
Amorose assured that bringing a bank statement won't result in the liquidation of the entrepreneur's account for the loan's down payment.
"We're not going to take it all, that's not how we work," she said. "We just want to make sure it's there."
The process of comparing loans from bank to bank has also become more common, said Brad Day, senior vice president for Quantum National Bank.
Day said commitment letters can be taken from bank to bank to compare the loans that are offered. Collateral and other factors are often taken to multiple banks to see if the business can get a better deal.
"Banking is so competitive today, we know our commitment letters are getting shopped," Day said.
The one problem with shopping around too much, Amorose said, is it can lower a person's credit score if their history is pulled too much.
Day also spent time differentiating between conventional loans and Small Business Administration loans. SBA loans are often for startup businesses or others who might not have as strong of a track record.
Amorose, who works with SBA loans, said those loans not involving real estate can usually close within two weeks, dispelling the notion that SBA loans are a longer process.
"SBA in the past has had a bad connotation with it," Amorose said. "It does take a lot of paperwork, but it doesn't take longer than a conventional loan."
Small Business U is an informative series put on by the chamber and aimed at helping businesses grow. The sessions cost $35 for members and $55 for nonmembers.
The next Small Business U will feature a presentation by two of this year's Pinnacle Small Business Award winners, Sean Murphy of Optimus Solutions and Hank Datelle of Cypress Care Inc.