Best Practices for Business Owners in an Uncertain Economic Environment

Friday, October 18 at 02:00 AM
Category: Business Banking

 

By Carolyn Kennedy, CTP, Executive Director of Treasury Management for Arvest Bank

Recession is a word we are hearing from the lips of newscasters, market watchers and even my pastor on a recent Sunday. This represents a real fear, for the first time in a long time, that our economy may no longer be slowly and steadily growing.  

In July, the Federal Reserve decreased the primary credit rate by 25 basis points to 2.75%. This was the first rate cut since the height of the financial crisis in 2008 and it isn’t likely to be the last. But what does it mean, really? 

It means businesses in our region may be faced with steeper challenges if their growth plan relies too exclusively on increased consumer demand as the economy grows. Fortunately, I don’t think this is a widespread problem, but the question remains, during this time of rate and other economic uncertainty, where do you focus? Simple: Focus on the fundamentals. 

Invest in really understanding your customer’s needs now and how changes in the economy may impact those needs. 

You might have really done something amazing for your customers once, but if it doesn’t continue to meet their changing needs, it runs the risk of becoming obsolete. Are you continuing to provide the products and customer service your customer expects? Is your business model too dependent on economic growth? How do you make your approach stand out? 

Don’t be afraid to change and adapt. 

During times of economic slowdowns, many business owners have a tendency to adopt a mindset of “waiting it out.” That works when you have some idea as to how long the slowdown might last, but I doubt anyone really expected the Great Recession to endure as long as it did. It might seem counterintuitive, but an environment of economic uncertainty is a great time to take that well planned leap of faith.  

If there is a venture you’ve been investigating and dreaming about that would diversify your revenue streams without alienating your existing customer base, now might be the right time to get serious about it. If you’re not innovating and growing, you may be slowly dying. What new approach do you wish you had already adopted? 

Ensure you still have your working capital optimized. 

While an influx of new capital may be needed to launch a new product line, it helps to validate that you already have your prior investments of capital deployed efficiently. When a venture capitalist invests in an existing business, one of the main things they focus on, regardless of the business model, is how well the existing working capital (money currently invested in the operations of the business) is being utilized.  

While each business is unique, optimizing the use of your working capital is universally important. Whether it’s paying down debt or making money on short term and long term cash investments, getting as much capital out of your operations and putting it to work for you is key. 

There are a few metrics you can use to identify and diagnose where your best opportunities for optimization may reside. How long are your Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)? How long are your Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)? How long are your Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO)? 

Of course, what “good” looks like for DSO, DPO and DIO is relative and varies by industry — you know your business cycle better than anyone else. What’s most important is the trend over time for your business.  

We all know that there are cycles to our economy, and when it is growing we all benefit, but the fundamentals of good business don’t change with those cycles. Absolutely, you need to make smart decisions about where you get capital and at what rate. In addition, the fundamentals of understanding your customer, making smart business plan improvements and optimizing the cash you have invested in your business are always winning strategies. 

Carolyn can be contacted via email at ckennedy1@arvest.comThis article originally appeared in the Sept. 30 edition of the NW Arkansas Business Journal. It is published here with permisssion.

 

Tags: Business Banking, Financial Education
 

Small Business Banking Series in Greater Kansas City

Wednesday, July 17 at 08:00 AM
Category: Business Banking

Business Blogging Basics

Have you ever thought about starting a blog for your small business? If so, you have most likely followed that thought with:

  • Is it really worth the time and effort?
  • What in the WORLD do I blog about on a regular basis?
  • How does blogging impact SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

If this conversation sounds familiar to you, join our featured speaker, Ben Seidel of Igniting Business, for Blogging Basics for Small Businesses. Ben will guide you through this dynamic seminar that will address the benefits (and challenges!) of blogging.

Ben Seidel is the CEO & Founder of Igniting Business which provides web design, SEO services, and marketing tailored for small businesses. He started in marketing very early on in his career, developing his first websites and SEO solutions for commercial clients at the young age of thirteen. Ben has grown Igniting Business to a phenomenal team of web, SEO and marketing experts. Through his entrepreneurial journey, Ben has been recognized on a local and national level, including entrepreneurship awards from both the NFIB and NASE. He has also been featured in publications such as CNBC Universal, Yahoo News, Intuit Small Business, Mizzou Magazine and Fox Small Business.

From their headquarters in Kansas City, Igniting Business has grown to serve clients all over the nation, stretching from Juneau, Alaska to Washington DC. Ultimately, Ben’s true passion is to help small businesses grow and succeed!

This session will be held Wednesday, August 28, 2019 from 11:30am to 1:00pm at the Regnier Center of Johnson County Community College (12345 College Blvd, Overland Park, KS – Room 270). This class is open to the public and registration includes lunch.

Space is limited. Registration is required. Please visit the event site to reserve your spot today.

 

Generously sponsored by Arvest Bank and hosted by the Kansas SBDC at JCCC, this workshop is the first of a 4-part Small Business Growth Lunch & Learn series*. The series will be an opportunity for small business owners and resource partners to network, share best practices, and learn from industry experts. Each session will feature a presenter on a different small business topic.

*Participants do not need to attend all four sessions.

 

Registration link: https://ce.jccc.edu/courseDisplay.cfm?schID=16473

 

Tags: Business Banking, Kansas City
 

Arvest Bank Offers Special Assistance to Customers Affected by Shutdown

Friday, January 25 at 08:00 AM
Category: Arvest News

Arvest Bank has announced additional accommodations for our customers affected by the current government shutdown. Because we understand the uncertainty caused by an interruption in income, we’ve established a Special Assistance Customer Care hotline for our customers who need help managing their accounts during this time.

If you have concerns about your accounts related to the government shutdown, please call this dedicated line during normal business hours – 

Arvest Special Assistance Customer Care: (877) 483-2940.

A customer care associate will walk you through specific accommodations available to you.

  • ARVEST MORTGAGE CUSTOMERS: Arvest is suppressing credit reporting, waiving late fees and offering payment assistance including forbearance. In addition to calling (877) 483-2940, mortgage customers can visit the Arvest website to learn more about hardship assistance. Options will vary based on loan type and investor guidelines.
  • PERSONAL LOANS (AUTO, HOME EQUITY, DEBT CONSOLIDATION, ETC.): Arvest is offering payment deferrals for existing loans based on need. In addition, Arvest is waiving origination fees and offering an extension of the first payment due date for some new consumer loan types. Affected customers are encouraged to call (877) 483-2940 to discuss options.
  • CONSUMER AND BUSINESS CREDIT CARD CUSTOMERS: Arvest is offering payment deferrals. Affected customers are encouraged to call (877) 483-2940.
  • CHECKING ACCOUNT HOLDERS: Arvest is waiving account insufficient funds and overdraft fees, as well as monthly account fees, when applicable. To request these waivers or refunds, please call (877) 483-2940.
  • BUSINESS OR COMMERCIAL LOANS: Please contact your local Arvest banker for personalized assistance.

At Arvest we are committed to helping our customers through this challenging time. If you have questions about any of the above accommodations or your eligibility, please do not hesitate to call (877) 483-2940.

Tags: Arkansas, Budgeting, Business Banking, Community Support, Credit Cards, Credit History, Credit Score, Customer Question, Debt, Home Loans, Kansas, Lending and Financing, Missouri, Mortgage, Oklahoma, Overdraft Coverage
 

Easy Ways to Save Money on Summer Travel

Tuesday, July 24 at 12:00 PM
Category: Business Banking

Traveling can be expensive, especially during the summer months, but with a simple schedule change or the click of a button, you could be well on your way to your dream vacation without emptying your bank account. Leave the stress at work, and enjoy vacation knowing you’re getting the most out of your hard-earned pay check.

Flexible Schedules Equals Savings on Flights

Although it may be tempting to book flights for specific dates, it can pay to be flexible. According to USA Today*, July is the peak month for summer travel – and one of the most expensive times to fly. However, you can save money by flying domestically on slower days like Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays when airlines are trying to fill empty seats.

Want the deepest summer travel discounts? The USA Today report also reveals airlines usually offer the biggest discounts beginning August 28th. That means if you’re able to delay your beach getaway a few weeks, not only will you miss the crowds, but your budget will stretch further!  Plus, those cheaper airline tickets still earn you rewards points when purchased with a credit card, which can be redeemed on other expenses.

Eat Like a Local, for a Fraction of the Cost

Save on food expenses by exploring local markets and avoiding over-priced restaurants. Smarter Travel* suggests buying unique, local ingredients and using them to prepare your own meals. Even those small, everyday purchases can earn credit card rewards points.

If your accommodations don’t offer a place to prepare food, restaurants are still a good option! Rather than asking your hotel concierge for suggestions, Smarter Travel recommends finding local restaurants by reading blogs, travel books or talking to locals. You may find a diamond in the rough with authentic local cuisine that doesn’t charge tourist prices. Those daily restaurant meals are one of the easiest ways to rack up credit card rewards points when you travel. After all, you have to eat!

A Better Hotel Room is an Upgrade Away

Don’t settle for the standard hotel room when planning your summer vacation. According to Business Insider*, hotels are more likely to upgrade your room if you book later in the day. When rooms are left unoccupied, hotels may be more willing to offer upgrades to late arrivals. In addition, front desk hotel employees upgrade customers more often than 800 reservation numbers do, so when possible, call the hotel directly.

Don’t hesitate to mention when you are booking a hotel room for a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion. Business Insider says some hotels offer perks or upgrades to help make your visit more positive and memorable.

Remember to ask how to become a member and earn points when you stay at certain properties. Not only do most hotels offer points and rewards opportunities for future stays, but likely so does the credit card you used to book the room!

Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards

When you opt in for that hotel room upgrade, don’t forget to opt in for your credit card rewards points! If you have an Arvest Bank credit card, you’re already halfway to earning 5X rewards points on up to $1,000 of all charges this summer starting July 1, 2018. Simply go online to your Arvest Rewards account, and click the activation button or call the rewards phone line at (800) 356-8085, extension 3 to activate the bonus offer and start earning 5X rewards on future purchases through September 30, 2018.

Not an Arvest Bank credit card customer? Don’t miss out on rewards for vacation purchases and everyday purchases both big and small. Sign up for a credit card today at your local branch or online! Be sure to activate rewards as soon as possible, because bonus points will only be awarded on eligible purchases from the time you activate until September 30, 2018.

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.

*Link is a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Disclosure:  Activate to earn 5X Arvest Flex Rewards points on up to $1,000 in eligible purchases made on your Arvest Personal Credit Card between July 01, 2018 and September 30, 2018. The bonus offer must be activated online by clicking the activation button in your Rewards Account or by calling the rewards phone line at (800) 356-8085, extension 3. Bonus points will only be awarded on eligible purchases from the time your bonus is activated until September 30, 2018. Eligible purchases are not limited by merchant categories such as groceries or fuel, but do not include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, convenience check transactions, purchases of traveler’s checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards or purchases of other cash equivalents. Bonus points will be applied to your account within three billing cycles after your qualifying purchase. The Card Account must be open and not in default as of the date the bonus points are applied. New applications are subject to credit approval.

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Tags: Arvest, Business Banking
 

8 Tips to Get a Jumpstart on Your Summer Plans

Thursday, May 03 at 10:00 AM
Category: Business Banking

As temperatures begin to heat up and the weather improves across the country, you have the perfect excuse to take a break away from your desk and your hectic day-to-day schedule. But, don’t just take our word for it. There are some serious mental and physical health benefits to doing so, according to a report on inc.com*. Citing several research studies, inc. reports that taking some time off can result in stress reduction, heart disease prevention, improved productivity and better sleep.

So, whether you are considering a week-long vacation or just making time for a day trip this summer, planning ahead is key. You may end up saving time and money by doing so.

Use these helpful tips to get a jumpstart on your summer plans.

1. Make sure your wallet is ready. Do you have the right rewards points-earning credit card to help you get where you want to go this summer and in the future? Arvest credit cards offer a $75 bonus for new cards. Also, you’ll get triple rewards points on gas and travel purchases until the end of May 2018. Arvest Flex Rewards™ can be used for cash back, travel, shopping and more.

2. Take advantage of new trip-planning tools. Travel sites and smartphone apps offer an array of trip planning resources to help you map out your next adventure and keep an eye on your budget as well. For example, consider using the destinations feature on Google—from your mobile phone, type the place you are interested in visiting along with the word “destinations.” Depending on the area searched, the results will display information cards and costs associated with the destination.

3. Set up alerts. Consider setting up airline, hotel and transportation fare alerts so you don’t miss the deals.

4. Time your trip strategically. Avoid peak travel weeks in the summer. According to cheapair.com*, if you are planning to fly to your destination, consider leaving mid-week as opposed to the weekend to save money.

5. Stay somewhere unconventional. If high hotel prices have you thinking twice about your getaway, see if you can snag a deal on a house or condo rental on vrbo.com* or airbnb.com*.

6. Consider all of your transportation costs. Getting to and from your destination is a given, but don’t overlook the expenses associated with navigating while you are at your destination. Will you be taking public transportation, relying on ride-hailing services, or renting cars or bicycles?

7. Buy tickets in advance. It pays to look up popular tourist destinations and sites ahead of time. You can purchase advance tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty* in New York City, for example. Note that some tourist sites require reservations. So, the sooner you look, the better.

8. Notify the bank. Before you take flight, set sail or cruise to your destination, be sure to notify Arvest or your financial institutions of your travel plans for peace of mind and security.

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Arvest, Business Banking

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