Best Place When You Need a Loan

Yes, big banks have been cutting back, but…

Home and dollar notes sitting on his hand.Dance storeowners looking for financing to renovate, purchase new fixtures or expand their stores and grow will likely have better luck with a small bank, according to a new survey released by a group of regional Federal Reserve Banks. The 2015 Small Business Credit Survey reported that small firms with at least one employee had more success getting a loan or line of credit from small banks than from big banks, credit unions or online lenders. And those who got loans were more satisfied at the small banks, too.

About 3,500 small firms with at least one employee responded to the survey. Three-quarters had one to nine employees. Fourteen percent were retail businesses.

One good sign: The businesses showed signs of improving financial performance. Profitability, revenue growth and hiring were up from the previous year. In 2015, most firms were profitable and had increased their revenues. Plus, 79 percent of the firms that sought a loan or line of credit were approved for at least some financing, with half getting the full amount they asked for.

The smallest firms had the hardest time getting credit from big banks: Less than a third of those with revenues under $100,000 that were applying for a loan or line of credit got approval from a big bank; 60 percent got it from a small bank.

For firms with revenues between $100,000 and $1 million, 49 percent got approval from a big bank, but even more—69 percent—were approved by a small bank.

What’s more, three-quarters of the businesses that got financing from small banks reported the highest satisfaction score, compared to only half of those that got funding from big banks. Online lenders, which have become popular in a tight credit market for small businesses, registered the lowest satisfaction, at 15 percent, mainly because of unfavorable repayment terms and high interest rates.

Other reasons successfully funded businesses were unhappy with their banks? Lack of transparency, long waits for credit decisions and a difficult application process. One place to start the search for a smaller bank: Independent Community Bankers of America at icba.org/consumer/BankLocator.cfm.

snap-ghost-yellow_R1Snapchat Introduces On-Demand Geofilters

New marketing channel for local stores

Snapchat has introduced a new feature that means even the smallest businesses will now have access to paid promotions on what is the fastest growing social-media platform—especially among 13- to 34-year-olds, dance retailers’ target customers. The new On-Demand Geofilters, wrote Snapchat on its blog, “let you create and publish a Geofilter for…your business, or any other place or event. It’s a fun way to help your…customers decorate their Snaps, wherever they are!” In other words, geofilters, the colorful digital “stickers” that appear on more than 1 million posts a day already, can now be used as branded promotions for your business.

Up until now, only large companies could afford the $100,000-plus price tag of an advertising campaign on Snapchat. On-Demand Geofilters can be purchased starting at $5. Here’s how they work.

You design a custom geofilter (Snapchat has templates, or there are even services online that can help you), adding any promotional copy or branding you want (logos are fine, but no URLs, phone numbers or e-mail addresses).

You choose the dates and amount of time (from an hour to 30 days) you want the filter to be active, and select the area on a map (“geofence”) where Snapchat users must be to use the geofilter. This might be around your store or the block where the street fair is taking place, or include the venue hosting the dance eventwhere you’re selling.

Finally, you pay by credit card and submit to Snapchat for approval. Cost depends on the size of the geofence and how long you want it to run. (For guidelines and tips, see snapchat.com/geofilters.)

Whether you’re having your annual pointe shoe decorating contest, running a pop-up shop at a recital or having a two-day sale, on-demand geofilters can help spread the word. There are several ways merchants can use the new on-demand filters.

Brand your Snaps: Each time you post a Snap, a branded geofilter with your store name and/or tagline will keep your store top of mind and associate your brand with events and places dancers love.

For events: If you’re hosting a trunk show or a pointe shoe workshop at the store, or sponsoring a local dance performance, promote it with a branded geofilter on your Snaps and encourage attendees to send out Snaps decorated with it at the event.

For store promotions: Back-to-school sale? Your geofilter might read: “I’m at ___________ Dancewear’s blow-out sale today.”

For more on creating a branded filter, Hootsuite has a handy step-by-step: blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-make-a-snapchat-on-demand-geofilter.

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