The COVID-19 pandemic caused much of the U.S. economy to grind to a near halt for months starting in March 2020, placing small businesses across the country in a precarious place on the edge of survival.
In early April, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), allowing struggling businesses to apply for low-interest private loans to afford expenses such as payroll and rent.
A PROCESS FOR SUCCESS:
FVCbank stepped up to leverage its resources, industry experience and loan experts to aid small businesses in their time of need.
For the FVCbank team, this experience was unprecedented. From the moment PPP lending became available, their phone was inundated with voicemails from customers desperate for help. It was an all-hands-on-deck effort with even senior leadership entering in loans themselves.
In less than three months, the FVCbank team managed to secure over 750 PPP loans totaling $173 million of relief to customers. The Bank made this happen through its experienced leadership and a passionate team motivated to serve their customers.
FVCbank remained nimble and made adjustments to this process as more and more loan applications came in. For example, they originally processed all applications through a third-party vendor. However, they realized this process did not produce application approvals quickly enough to meet the needs of their customers. They adapted, pivoting to using the SBA portal instead, which issued results in minutes, not days, despite a higher level of effort for FVCbank team members.
To stay focused and organized, each department formed mini task forces. There was a task force for onboarding and contacting new customers and one that handled opening new deposit accounts. Executives formed an additional task force to provide oversight and monitor SBA updates. These subgroups met regularly to ensure the Bank covered every step of the process.
Check-in meetings and calls were held every other day in a targeted, multi-pronged approach that ensured the team remained proactive and every customer of every size was treated equally. Open, transparent and regular conversations between lenders and customers also set FVCbank up for success. Many clients mentioned their former bank would never give them a callback or provide any information on
the status of their loan, a problem they never had with FVCbank. Even citing that what their original bank took three weeks to do, FVCbank completed in an hour.
At the end of April, the PPP loan program opened up again. During this second round, the Bank opened up its services to new customers. This led to rapid expansion with 226 new small businesses choosing to stay with FVCbank even after their loan was processed. The majority of these new customers came to the Bank on referrals cultivated from the Bank’s positive reputation and past performance. Despite challenges, such as the SBA online portal crashing, the seamless process they previously developed allowed the team to help more people more efficiently, earning new customers and further cementing their reputation.
By remaining client-centric, FVCbank served as a valuable support system to many struggling small businesses. The Bank cites its commitment to core values, such as serving as a good corporate citizen and building and maintaining strong relationships with their customers, as the key to this success. Every lender and the business development officer took substantial time with every customer to understand their business, what they want from their bank and how they can most successfully partner with them.
As the Bank’s positive reputation and family of customers continues to grow, they will use this process and what they learned about the importance of decisive leadership, reliable communications and organized teamwork to better accommodate both their existing and brand-new customers in both good and challenging times.