Update: Big Regions Listened to Small Business Owners
Gravy Co-Founder & CEO
**Updated on April 15th, 2020
I'm updating this post because Regions Banks response to my blog has been overwhelming.
At 8:30 AM last Friday morning (April 10th), I posted the article below asking Regions for help.
By 2:30 PM that same day, I had 2 executives contact me. I had some insider team members send me texts saying, "We are on conference calls talking about your blog now."
Well, this blog reached the high ups — and they responded at lightning speed.
I had one executive say, "You are the voice for small business clients we needed to hear."
Here is what I learned...
Regions was being hyper conservative on these loans. They wanted to make sure they didn't get caught with bad loans or bad deals.
They received more than 45,000 applications and were scrambling to process them.
I told them that them being conservative was 100% a good idea for their bank—but nobody told us that.
They were one of the first to put a portal up, and in the SBA language it said if we applied at two different banks, we could basically get no money.
So, we felt captive by Regions because they were holding our application and being conservative—but nobody knew it.
What made it worse was Sen. Marco Rubio was telling everyone on Fox News that the money would run out.
We had to take action.
I asked the high ups for help. I asked for a few things:
1. Communication email to all PPP applicants
Within 4 hours they sent that out.
2. Release our loan apps or give status updates on where the loans sit
They added status updates so others could see where they sat in the que.
3. Human responses on social media to all devastated small business owners
They did that. They were wonderful and started responding amazingly.
By Saturday, April 11, evening at 8 p.m., we got approval on our PPP loan.
By Monday, April 13, we were funded.
I want to thank the executives and team who called me.
And to all the small business owners who have called my phone: I would suggest you take action to make sure your application is 100% complete.
At Gravy, we fight for our team and small businesses. We took a risk here and it paid off.
Thank you Regions, you listened.
That's rare. Kudos to you.
**Original Post on April 10th, 2020
My name is Casey Graham, and I've been a proud Regions customer for 20 years.
I remember opening my first account as a college student with your bank.
I remember my wife and I getting married and opening a joint account.
Many fond memories of your Regions Green being the centerpiece of our financials.
I've had the absolute privilege of working with some really good bankers.
Alita Loudermilk and Derek Smith for 14 years have been amazing team members and served my family and companies with so much care. They need raises for being fantastic.
As you are aware, the world of small business completely imploded on us all.
We employ 40 people here in north Atlanta.
Even though we have been impacted, we haven't been impacted like my other CEO friends that have physical locations and inventory.
I'm a nobody to the Regions banking corporate system — and I know that. I know this letter will probably not even find its way to your desk but I had to write it.
I'm writing on behalf of every single small business owner that has been faithful to your organization for decades.
When I go look at Twitter, I see their frustrations and desperation. I have the same.
Here is the deal.
I know you had the PPP program thrown on you quickly by the government and the speed in which you had to roll it out was unprecedented. Thank you for getting the portal up quickly.
Here is mine and every one of your small businesses’ problem.
Not one person in your organization knows what to tell customers. I've asked every one of them if they have heard from you — and the answer is “No.”
The local banks that your portal says to set up an appointment with have no visibility into a portal to see the status of applications.
The 1-800 line workers say to go visit the local branch.
In the time of a national crisis your @askregions description says, "We will respond to tweets between 8AM & 5PM CDT and Saturdays 8AM to 12PM CDT."
Sen. Marco Rubio said the funds will dry up next week and all of us small business owners that trusted you with our applications are completely stuck.
The legal documents say that if we submit at two banks, we will forfeit our opportunity to get the PPP loan and keep people working.
Honestly, all of this is to be expected.
What isn't to be expected is your silence.
Silence to your employees. Silence to your customers.
This is probably one of the largest opportunities in history to win emotional brand loyalty and support.
Yet, high over my hometown of Birmingham, Ala., sits a corporate CEO in a corner office with no words.
Do you know what's happening in the real world with us?
I'm not even asking that you get us the money. I know you have to do your due diligence with the Treasury and the government. I'm asking you to consider the Regions response to this crisis.
I'm proud you guys are providing some free online education classes on your Twitter account. Thanks for that. But come on, it's time to be human. It's time to step up your response to let us know what's happening.
Here are my recommendations that I'm most certain will fall on deaf ears:
1. All Employee Call
Why would you not have your entire banking team on a call or video call and give them weekly updates of what's happening? Or at least your branch managers? Do it for their benefit, because they are the ones getting thrown under the bus, not you.
Update them on what to tell us. And how about not doing a corporate memo email. It's not 1987 anymore. Let's pick up the phone and help your team.
2. Human Social Media
You could win so many customers right now with a human Twitter account. Just like all other sources of communication, nobody says anything.
Can you imagine if your Twitter account had some personality and for this crisis was around the clock? I mean, I know you are bankers and it's probably not in your DNA to think like this...
Your team could be providing helpful content and being helpful and human with clients reaching out. Go read the desperation of small business owners.
They have worked their whole lives and all of a sudden because the government mandates they shut down, it's all gone.
And the oxygen of small business is cash. And the man that knows what's happening is silent? Come on. Talk to us. Give us something. Go on TV. Follow Sen. Rubio's lead with updates on Twitter. You make $4.2M a year, I'm sure you can find someone to help you set this up.
3. Status Update In Portal
If you want to not have people calling by the thousands and if you want to save your bankers from looking completely clueless, have your software engineers include a status update in your portal.
Currently, there is absolutely no visibility into the process.
There isn't even anything that says, "Your application was accepted." Or nothing that says, "Your application is not complete."
I know 50 software engineers who can make that happen at University of Alabama at Birmingham alone.
Mr. Turner, you could absolutely win the hearts and loyalty of your customers right now by just showing some empathy.
I'm sure you are a wonderful man and leader. You wouldn't be in your role if you weren't. I'll never have the kind of leadership chops you have to run a large brand.
I'll be a guy out here fighting for the little guy. I'm asking you to consider this letter and give us something. Give us an indication you know we exist.
I have no pull, and this letter won't matter much, I'm sure. But would you consider the families your customers feed? We do a team update every day, and I have to tell them, "Regions isn't telling us anything."
Here is my cell: 770-881-2340
I'm more than happy to take your call if you have any questions.
Just a small business CEO looking for help,"