A New York community bank is generating new loans and deposits the old- fashioned way: by going door-to-door.
Union State Bank in Nanuet, about 17 miles northwest of New York City, says it picked up $30 million in new business in one day last month by dispatching 25 two-person teams to the doorsteps of 150 small businesses near its branch in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Armed with copies of their holding company's annual report, the teams- one including president and chief executive officer Thomas E. Hales-touted Union State's products and services and asked business owners what the $1.1 billion-asset bank could do to help them grow.
The one-day blitz was the first of many that Union State, a subsidiary of USB Holding Co., is planning near its 22 branches in the northern suburbs of New York.
Union State officials are disclosing little about the campaign, fearing other banks might steal the idea. Senior vice president and marketing director Alfred L. Fox said only that the visits helped spread the message that Union State cares about small businesses.
"This is a reflection of Union State Bank's long-standing service culture and our dedication to the community's needs," he said. "We want to know what we can do for our customers."
Still, not all marketing experts are convinced that Union State's strategy is the best one for community banks seeking new business. Les Dinkin, a principal at NBW Consulting Group in Westport, Conn., said that more than half of small businesses actually cost a bank more to serve than the bank makes back in revenue.
"Going to the market at large may generate excitement at the institution and in the community," he said, "but it's an expensive way to generate that excitement."
Mr. Dinkin advised community banks to be selective about the customers they bring in. Banks, he said, should consider how many teller-hours a customer would take up or how much small change they would have to handle, when assessing the potential profitability of a customer.
Certain types of businesses are generally more profitable than others, Mr. Dinkin said. For example, a consulting firm customer usually makes more money for its bank than a retail customer.
And when gauging a business' worth, be sure to consider the owner's personal accounts. The extra deposits could make an otherwise unprofitable relationship worthwhile.
"The most successful efforts to win new business are not the ones that go out to the market at large," Mr. Dinkin said. "They are the ones that focus on certain customers that the bank believes will be profitable."