JPMorgan Chase is taking a new twist on meeting customers “where they are:” A 27-foot trailer at business events across the U.S., offering free one-on-one advice sessions on marketing, business insights and small-business financing.
The trailer, which is called Chase BizMobile, is the latest iteration of the bank’s plans to grow face-to-face connections with business owners, alongside conferences and seminars it’s organized for the last two years. The objective is to connect with clients and prospects who may consider taking taking up service offerings from the bank in the future.
“Our strategy is to have a human presence everywhere we do business,” said Brent Reinhard, chief marketing officer for Chase Business Banking.
After the recession, large U.S. banks pulled back on most of their small-business lending activities, creating fertile ground for startups like OnDeck and Bond Street to grow market share. But now, banks, including Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America are looking to the small-business market as a growth area, adding pressure on institutions to find new ways to reach customers. Chase has modernized its small-business product tech stack and is using OnDeck’s technology to make the approval process simpler and faster. But in a competitive field of banks offering small-business products and services, face-to-face relationships are big differentiators. Chase is the fourth-largest lender of Small Business Administration loans; as of March 31, 2018, the bank approved 1,307 loans valued at $323 million.
The emphasis on face-to-face connections with business owners is a way to build trust among clients who know they’re entering a long-term relationship with a financial institution. Aite senior analyst David O’Connell said surveys he conducted of small-business owners seeking credit showed that while interest rates and repayment terms were important, relationships also figured prominently among their considerations, including the ability to turn to someone when problems arise.
“Chase is smartly setting itself up as a trusted adviser among its small-business borrowers,” he said. “They want to take advantage of their ability to deliver on that relationship as a way to acquire more customers.”