Local banks adopt no-wait loan-approval plan

You may have noticed the signs indicating “Yes” or “No,” posted in the front windows of some area banks.

The signs are part of an innovative plan to speed loan approvals, according to Banc One President Gary Thomas. “We surveyed our loan-approval process and found that about 50 percent of the applicants are approved,” said Thomas. “That’s when it hit us — it’s about the same as flipping a coin.”

But the coin method was tossed out, Thomas said, after a customer survey revealed that bank customers would be offended by it. Banc One decided opted for the sign method.

“The way it works is, anytime a bank employee enters or exits the building, they flip the sign. The next loan applicant approaching the bank can then tell at a glance whether his loan is approved,” said Thomas. “It’s saving customers a lot of unnecessary time, and the bank a lot of paperwork and money.”

Other banks quickly adopted the sign-approval method. A poll of 12 area banks found that 90 percent are now posting the “Yes/No” signs in their front windows.

Customers interviewed outside the banks gave the procedure mixed reviews. “It worked out great for me, because I happened by when the sign said ‘Yes,'” said former armored-car driver Sid “Fingers” Geavis. “To tell you the truth, the sign-approval method spared me a lot of hassle and danger, even. Now I can live in Asheville, instead of Tijuana.”

But North Asheville developer Broadbent Astoria said he was not happy with the plan. “My credit used to be impeccable in this town,” he fumed. “Now, my driver has to circle the block, sometimes for hours, before I can be sure of getting a loan. The traffic around the banks has gotten unbearable. I’m thinking seriously of opening a Swiss bank account.”

When told about customers’ concerns, however, Thomas remained upbeat about the plan. “We think it adds a lot of excitement to what had been a rather dull procedure,” he said, adding, “Whoever said life was fair?”

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