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After the business plan is before the financing – How to prepare for your bank interview properly

You should prepare yourself thoroughly for your interview with the bank – it determines whether you get the desired credit for setting up a business with your car wash. Maybe you are not just having one interview, but several. Find out here whether this will be the case and how best to prepare for an interview with a bank.

Which bank is the right one?

There is no general answer to this question. Large banks as well as cooperative banks and savings banks are well suited as house banks for your future business. Find out about the possible banks in your area and find out what services they offer. Do they grant loans to start-ups and support you in applying for subsidies? If you can say yes to these two points, you should make an appointment with an advisor. It is important that you can trust the employee with whom you will ideally be working. 

If the conversation gives you a bad feeling, conduct others with advisors from other banks. Keep looking until you find a bank you're comfortable with. Of course you should always consider the respective offer. After all, it's not just about likeability, but also about the conditions you can get. So ask for appointments that allow you to compare at your leisure.

You will need the information when you prepare for the interview with the bank.

There are various documents that you should bring with you to your interview with the bank:

●    Business plan including capital requirement plan
●    Documents for collateral and/or equity and/or guarantees
●    Credit report
●    Clear short presentation of the business idea

It can also help if you have a CV with your experience and previous references. However, the attachments to the business plan are particularly important. With the capital requirement plan, the liquidity plan and the profitability forecast, you show that you are fully conversant with all numbers relating to the business. In addition, specify the exact amount you will need and add the estimated interest and redemption costs. If you already have cost estimates or contracts that have not yet been signed, bring them with you.

It is important that you define an exact amount when preparing for an interview with the bank. It shows that you have very carefully considered your plans and needs. Don't forget to include your living expenses in the calculation!  

If you have attended a start-up seminar beforehand, bring the certificate with you – it shows that you have put serious thought to setting up a company.

Not every prospective start-up can name guarantors with a good credit rating. Accordingly, you may consider contacting a guarantor bank. Proof of the bank's willingness to assume the guarantee for you is a strong argument in bank discussions.

Correct conduct during the interview

If you are preparing for the interview with the bank, you will have already gathered a lot of important information. You will have written your business plan and have thought about profitability and financing. This means that you are already well versed in your future industry. You know why the location is well suited for the car wash, who your customers will be, where the competition is located and what sets you apart from it. You have set your prices and developed your marketing strategy. In order to communicate all this as concisely and precisely as possible, prepare a short presentation with graphics based on your business plan. Your explanation should not take more than ten minutes. Also make sure that it is completely self-explanatory: It must also convince those employees of the bank who are involved in the decision on your loan but are not present during the interview.

Practise in advance at home with family members or friends. Present your presentation to them and encourage them to ask questions. In this way you can find out which parts of your argumentation are unclear or weak and optimise them. You also get a little routine going. As this is an exciting situation, it will give you confidence if you move on familiar ground during the presentation. If you (which is likely to happen) do not have an answer to one of the bank advisor's questions, at least explain how and where you intend to find the answer. Find out beforehand which start-up subsidies you might be eligible for, for example on the KfWwebsite.

You should arrive punctually and properly dressed for the interview. These points may seem less important to you, but if you can meet deadlines and make a professional impression, this is the first plus point for your advisor. You may be nervous, but don't grovel. After all, you have a well thought-out project with which you are fully conversant and which you can confidently present. Arrogance or aggressiveness, on the other hand, are out of place. Answer all the advisor's questions – he (or she) will review your project to see if it can be a profitable business for the bank.

Be attentive and polite. Make notes during the interview and summarise the most important points again at the end. This way the advisor sees that you have understood his or her questions and concerns. Find out by the next appointment what you were missing this time – a loan is hardly ever granted in the first meeting.

If you have already spoken to the advisors of other banks in advance and perhaps even already have an offer, you can mention this – especially if the current advisor is making you an offer that is less attractive. Because you can always negotiate. But be aware – don't say anything that's not true! If you simply think up numbers, it may well be that they are completely unrealistic. This would reflect badly on yourself and make you an unreliable customer.

Summary: Be well prepared and the bank interview will be a success

Bank advisors are just people, too: They have doubts if someone does not have an answer to their questions or avoids them, and they have confidence if someone comes to their interview well prepared and has proven that their business idea is not a spontaneous inspiration but the result of careful consideration and preparation. It is therefore up to you to dispel the advisor's concerns as far as possible by having all the important papers with you, presenting your project well and disclosing your financial situation in full.