Top Lenders: Dan Ravenscroft—Royal Bank in Elroy, Wis.


Cultivating Customers

Through word of mouth, Dan Ravenscroft succeeds one borrower and loan at a time

By Michael Blankenheim

There are no magic secrets, just some simple reasons why Dan Ravenscroft is a top lender at Royal Bank in Elroy, Wis.

Ravenscroft, a regional vice president, emulates what it means to be a community banking lender. He accomplishes this by being deeply invested in cultivating customer relationships and finding viable financial solutions to meet specific customer needs, says Jack Heding, the bank’s president. In other words, Ravenscroft gets to intimately know the financial wants, needs and dreams of his customers so he can best match them up with the product, or group of products, that suits them best, Heding says.

Royal Bank, with 15 offices and assets of $320 million, serves the rural and small-town areas of south and central Wisconsin. A few years back, the bank, which has a very active home mortgage program, decided to launch into the business of servicing home loans locally. Heding says Ravenscroft led a team of lenders to build a new mortgage servicing program from a portfolio of zero to $120 million.

Ravenscroft also is heavily involved in overseeing Royal Bank’s loan programs in the areas of commercial loans, agricultural loans, real estate loans and home equity loans. His customers say that he makes them feel special and prized enough to tell other people about it, which leads to more business. His success is largely built around word-of-mouth referrals.

“They say the entire transaction was an experience,” Heding says of Ravenscroft’s style of serving customers. “It doesn’t matter the size of the deal. When people walk out of Dan’s office, they feel like they’ve been treated as if their deal is the only deal he has. And by the way, he has never had a bad deal, period.”

Ravenscroft, 36, began his banking career at Royal Bank in 1996, working part-time while he was attending college. He studied finance with an emphasis in investments while earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and he also graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Armed with that background, Ravenscroft easily knows how to analyze the financial nuts and bolts of a particular proposed loan. He is also an expert at drilling down and learning a business’ structure, another crucial aspect of crafting successful loans.

But many community bankers possess that kind of financial expertise, Ravenscroft says. What’s just as important, and perhaps more so, is getting to know customers so well that one becomes partners and friends with them. “It’s more than just providing great customer service,” he says. “You have to provide a superior customer experience.

“You have to go above and beyond meeting a customer’s stated request and immediate need by providing them with additional value-added services that we at community banks have to offer but maybe haven’t been shared with them yet.”

Mike Blankenheim is a writer in Maryland.