Want to save money? Meet with your bank

Would you like to realize dramatic cost savings, including cutting your interest rates in half? Meet with your bank once a year, suggests Joan Shearer, CASC, administrator of Lawrence (KS) Surgery Center.

Shearer sets up the annual meetings that include herself, her office manager, one of the bank's vice presidents, and one of the bank's service managers.

The group discusses current loans and interest rates, among other topics. "We continue to reduce our interest rate on loans, which is a significant cost savings for us," Shearer says. A couple of years ago, the interest rate was 7%, Shearer says. "Now we're down to between 3.5 and 4%."

The annual meeting also provides an opportunity to review bank fees and how those fees can be reduced, she says.

This meeting also has opened the door for a change in how the center processes checks. It now has an electronic check processor, so staff members don't have to travel to the bank. "It helps with our turnaround on cash," Shearer says. The amount of investment for the processor was insignificant, she says, and the cash now appears in the account within an hour, as opposed to the next day, she says.

At the annual bank meeting, Shearer also discusses future capital needs and how the bank can structure a loan for big ticket items. "It gives them a heads up," she says. For example, the center managers alerted the bank that they are preparing to purchase new scopes and probably will finance those purchases. "The bank is examining what kinds of loans they have and what would be a good option," she says. They bank also is examining the option of combining loans, Shearer says.

"We do our strategic planning for the year: our plans, their services, and how we can work together to reduce our expenses," she says.