As consumers, we have an unbelievable amount of choices to consider when making a purchase, whether it be large or small. With all the variables in the market, choosing something as complicated as a small business lender can be daunting unless you clear the fray.

A great way to do that is focusing on three key areas: the bank’s expertise in the profession, the strength of the relationship both during the loan process and after closing, and the educational value the bank brings to your profession.

The world of financing in the funeral home and cemetery profession can be somewhat of a challenging task. Unless you have spent a lot of time researching and connecting with funeral and cemetery professionals, there is a good chance you will misunderstand the trends of the business you are assessing. These professions can come with interesting family dynamics and business models that are continuously evolving to remain relevant to their families. Working with a bank that matches your level of expertise in the profession can make the loan process simple so that your goals are met with easy to understand products. This will save you time and money while putting your project on a fast track to success.

Moreover, when most people think of banking, they simply think of an institution lending them money. The relationship aspect of financing can get lost in the shuffle because you are being put into a situation where you owe the bank money. Many people believe that they will only hear from their bank if they are ever in a position where they might default on their loan.

Business financing should be more than merely just a bank lending people money; it should be about building a true partnership that aids people in achieving their dreams with quality customer service both during and after the loan closing process. When working with a bank, ask yourself a few questions: Is this bank truly on my side? Will they be here to help me if I ever struggle? How will they service my loan after I close? Are they readily available to answer any questions I may have both during and after closing?

If you are questioning any of these factors, step back and look at the big picture. Your livelihood relies on running a successful business and feeling secure with your business partners. Don’t get into business with anyone who you think won’t be there for you and provide you with the quality relationship that you deserve. Funeral home and cemetery professionals are extraordinary at what they do. They can quickly connect with a grieving family and layout simple solutions to celebrate the life of a lost loved one. Your bank should be able to quickly connect and understand you and your needs during good times and bad times.

Bankers have a lot to offer and share with the public about trends in finance. A specialized bank that is profession-focused can provide educational content that inspires growth. Check to see what your bank is doing regarding giving back to a profession that gives so much to their families. Developing valuable and relevant educational resources that help you become a better business owner and funeral or cemetery professional is an extraordinary trait for a bank to have. The power of education allows you to better prepare for the growth of your business. Whether you are looking to acquire your first or second business, expand your business, refinance business debt or purchase equipment, it is always helpful to be prepared. Educational content will aid in this effort.

There is an unspoken but always implied rule of thumb that people do business with those they like and trust. This means that people often seek a relationship over any other aspect of their business dealings. When evaluating your next project, be sure to take all these factors into consideration. The funeral home and cemetery profession are businesses built on trust and relationships with the families you serve, and you deserve this same level of commitment so that your business can prosper for years to come. FBA

Nick Padlo joined Live Oak Bank in 2014 as a member of the Business Advisory Group, servicing healthcare customers in the northeast. He then served as an underwriter for Live Oak’s Agriculture team. In August 2016, Nick joined the Funeral Home and Cemetery lending team where he helps drive new business relationships with customers as a loan officer. Nick attended St. Bonaventure University where he majored in finance and minored in economics.