This may or may not be as relevant to schools in more urban areas of Japan, but one thing that we’ve found to help us out greatly is our relationship with our bank. Relationships are very important anywhere, but especially in Japan, and the relationship we started building nine years ago is really paying off.
Nine years ago, after just taking over MY English School, my wife and I walked into the local branch of a bank popular in our prefecture and asked if we could speak with the manager. We had an idea that would require loans from a bank and wanted to see what we should do ahead of time to make it more likely such a loan would be approved. The bank manager said he had never had anyone come to him so far in advance–that people always come to him at the time the money is necessary. Even though he has moved to another branch, every time I see that manager he tells me how much of an impression our coming to consult with him ahead of time made.
While the specific idea we had at that time never came to fruition, that consultation became the start of a relationship. Since then we have set up our automatic withdrawals with them and had their help in opening several of our locations. Just this last week, however, we were approved for a significantly-sized loan to move our bilingual kindergarten to a new, larger and better location. That loan is essential to our kindergarten’s continued growth and I’m convinced we would not have received it had we not planted that seed nine years ago.
If you are thinking in any way of growing in the future and might need bank loans to do it, I highly recommend reaching out to a local bank now and developing a relationship with them. Get to know the managers, attend events they may hold, and set up your automatic withdrawals with them. It will be much easier to get their help in the future when necessary if you’ve developed these relationships ahead of time.