How are you, your bank employees and your community coping during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Personally, I am like most people trying to take it one day at a time. I feel the best approach is to stay calm and handle each situation as it arises and try not to look to far in the future. With all the unknowns, trying to look to far ahead only increases stress, wear and tear on our minds and body. I have tried to relay this to my staff.
As a bank we have staff that have been working from home as well as rotating partial staff at our various locations. We have been able to keep all locations available for service. Of course, walk-in traffic has been limited to appointments only.
We have tried to ensure a positive work environment for our employees during this period. We try to keep them informed of all things going on. The unknown is a great source of stress and in this case we feel unnecessary. We have implemented policies to ensure that none of our staff suffer financially during this period. We have tried to address the little things such as providing lunch to all our employees during this period.
The community has come together and have worked together to try and negate this outbreak in any way they can. This is evident as we deal with our customers and experience the outflow of understanding and care whether it's having to wait in line at the drive-thru a little longer or having to make appointments to handle certain needs. The human race is truly amazing when put to a true test such as this.
Customers have been amazing. While they are somewhat limited as to the access of certain things, you hear very little if any complaining. While these are particularly difficult times for small businesses, they have adjusted as needed. They have come to us for help and we have tried to be there for them.
What kinds of support and programs are you providing to these customers?
We have developed several programs to assist our customers in various ways. We have been very active in the SBA PPP program, not only working with our customers but with customers in other areas whose bank may not be active in the program.
We have set aside specific time slots for our business customers to drop off their deposits and get change rather than having to wait in drive-thru lanes. We literally are meeting people at the door. (glad its been pretty weather for the most part).
We are offering skip-a-payment programs, interest extensions, deferments, interest rate concessions as necessary to help our customers get through this period. While we may not be able to grant all requests, there is basically nothing we won’t consider as long as it complies with regulations and sound business practices.
We stay in touch with our business’s and many of our customers to ensure that realize we are there for them. Many of our customers now have several of our employees cell phone numbers to ensure we can be reached as needed.
What has the coronavirus crisis taught you so far?
I think anytime you go thru thing such as this it brings you down to earth so to speak. It makes you realize the more important aspects of life. Even in the business world there are times it isn’t all about the bottom line. As a financial institution we say we are an integral part of our communities. Times such as these provide us with the opportunity to prove this fact. As a person and a forty-two-year banker I have found it very gratifying to be able to help people who are truly in need. To see the appreciation from those receiving the help is extremely gratifying. To see people and business put aside their need for personal gain and extend a hand to others and work with each other is truly great.
What I have learned, not really learned but had reinforced, is that in hard times the people of our entire nation come together. The other thing that I haven’t learned because I already knew is God is in control. If we rely upon him all things are possible, and he will see us thru this. It’s not always the way we think it should be done but after we get thru it and look back it is always for the best!
There are certain things that have stood the test of time, our family, our friends and our faith.