Submitted by Comerica Bank
As the economy slowly re-opens, small businesses can finally welcome back customers and staff under strict safety guidelines. It will take a while for them to get back on solid financial footing. To do so, it will take a great deal of support from both consumers and financial institutions like Comerica Bank.
Patricia Alexander, Comerica Vice President, Business Banking, makes the impact of small businesses on the economy very clear, calling them “the engine of America,” generating 44 percent of U.S. economic activity and warning many of them will not re-open their doors due to financial distress.
While the challenge is tough, consumers can provide some real lifelines to help ensure as many small businesses as possible can stay afloat, revive and thrive.
Here are five ways Alexander says consumers should support small businesses:
Quite simply, buy their products and services to provide the cashflow they need to operate. In Alexander’s words, “To help these businesses, consumers should aggressively patronize them.”
Post positive reviews on social media. “We need to have a sense of urgency. We need to talk them up,” said Alexander. “People need to see if it is safe to go out again.”
Be patient with the challenges of re-starting a business and the operational changes needed to follow new safety guidelines. This is a new normal.
Take the initiative to seek them out. “Organizations like the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, and the National Business League are a few resources that can help consumers locate these critical businesses,” Alexander advises.
It’s not just enough to occasionally patronize small businesses. “Consumers need to renew and reaffirm their commitment to small businesses,” said Alexander. That means becoming regular customers or patrons, providing a reliable income for small business operators that will help them rebuild their operations.
Of course, Comerica Bank is also taking strong steps to support its small business customers to the extent where Alexander has been compelled to expand and realign her position in managing customer relationships.
“We’ve always been keenly customer-focused,” she explained. “The recent pandemic has underscored the need for complete transparency and a huge sense of urgency. Always anticipating the future needs of customers allows me to navigate through financial matters, regardless of the degree of complexity, while finding mutually, beneficial solutions in a timely manner.”
Alexander is celebrating 39 years with the company dating back to June 1981 before Comerica merged with the former Manufacturer’s Bank. She is also Chairman of the Michigan African American Initiative through Comerica with the goal of developing new relationships and expanding current ones.
Comerica itself has broadened its services in support of small businesses in financial duress and encourages customers to reach out if they are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.
Additionally, Comerica continued to provide loans through the support of the U.S. Small Business Administration loan programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. And more help could be on the way with the upcoming Main Street Lending Program.
Comerica is also continuing to offer its business customers services that include a vast array of Treasury Management products such as fraud prevention tools, cash management services and commercial credit cards, merchant services for payment collection and processing investment services to optimize income and a myriad of checking and savings products to handle daily operations, according to Alexander.
For businesses that don’t have a facade or building, Comerica also offers a merchant card service that can be used during events at remote locations. Businesses are provided with a card slide mechanism so they can collect payment on-site from customers using merchant or credit cards.
If small businesses are to retain their place as the engine of America, it’s going to take the type of support Comerica is providing along with a strong commitment from consumers to continue to patronize them and spread the positive word about the goods and services they found.
“Most importantly,” says Alexander, “we need to be patient because this is a new world we’re living in.”
For more information highlighting small business, visit www.comerica.com/insights.
Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA) is a financial services company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and strategically aligned by three business segments: The Commercial Bank, The Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Comerica focuses on relationships, and helping people and businesses be successful. In addition to Texas, Comerica Bank locations can be found in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan, with select businesses operating in several other states, as well as in Canada and Mexico.
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