General News & Events
How to Dig Out of Debt
"You can track payment due dates on a calendar or use your bank's online bill paying service," said Heather St. Germain, an FDIC senior consumer affairs specialist. "Many banks offer this service, which allows you to see all of your bills in one location online and make payments directly from your bank account."
Avoiding Scams for Your Small Business
Five Sure Fire Ways to Grow Your Small Business
In the words of Bill Gates, “there will be only two kinds of businesses, those with an internet presence, and those with no business at all.” This one statement effectively illustrates the modern business landscape. People go to the internet for almost all information. What kind of internet presence does your small business have? Today you can't just have a sexy website, instead you need to have a means for attracting visitors in the first place. This is where SEO comes in. With roughly 644 million active websites on the net, it is becoming very challenging to be discovered online. SEO involves a series of rules and protocols that helps bring your business out of the background and into the virtual highway. When someone is searching the web after a hailstorm for “Cleveland roofing service,” you want your business to be one of the first pages on Google. If you rank high enough organically, that's free advertising. The easiest way to get better at SEO is to simply hire someone. Although that might be the best option for companies with a big enough budget, others might not be so fortunate. If you’re strapped for cash, here are two recommendations. First, there several free websites that teach small business owners how to optimize their websites for Local SEO. Second, there is a book titled "The Ultimate Guide to Link Building". This is an incredible resource to help people understand how to do SEO the right way.
A key element to running a business is organization and prioritization. Do not allow your business organization to disintegrate into an array of convoluted finger-pointing when it comes to operations. A good book to reference regarding lean business operations is "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. "Good to Great" evaluates the qualities of companies that not only grew but also maintained success beyond their growth periods. The book discusses the importance of simplification in business operations. Collins and his associates found that great businesses comply with three major operational components: level five leaders, the right staff and confronting brutal facts. Once businesses understand the intersection of those three components, the managers continue to optimize and simplify operations. What are bare bones to your small business? More importantly, what activities give you 80% of the value for 20% of the time? Those are the things you need to optimize and mistake-proof. As an additional resource, read "The Lean Start-Up" by Eric Ries. This book helps new business owners create a culture of lean operations from the first day.
4. It’s All About The Customers
Small businesses have a fundamental advantage over large corporations. Small businesses can interact with customers at a much more personal level. This is not to say that large corporations do not care about the customers, but it's more challenging to put the CEO or other high-ranking executives face to face with new customers. Small businesses are local and can customize their services to their specific population. Culture and focus on individual customer interactions is something that many small businesses take for granted and fail to realize the long-term importance. Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" demonstrates the value of placing the customer first. One pivotal element to focusing on the customer involves Covey’s rule of “seeking first to understand before being understood.” We live in an era of complete customization, from social media profiles to iPhone cases. People want what they want. Make sure you understand your customer or client, then you can cater to their specific desires. Additionally, billionaire Tony Hsieh wrote a book titled, "Delivering Happiness", and it talks about how an online shoe company uses its customer service to create a competitive advantage over other retailers. Whether you’re running a local dental clinic or a large online shoe store, focus on the customer and treat each interaction as a vital source of future growth. This habit is the lifeblood of any great business.
Your business runs well. You understand the balance sheet, and you want to explore other opportunities. You can reinvest your retained earnings back into the operational business, or you can choose to invest in external assets that are non-operational subsidiaries. What is the right decision? Well that’s the hard decision. Too often business owners think they need to reinvest retained earnings into the organic business. In many cases this is the right decision, but in some instances they aren't doing the hard math. In fact, many business owners that have had successful companies in the first 10 years take the retained earnings and invest in another operational business. The failure comes when the overconfidence from the first success overshadows the realism in the second venture. New ventures that have low odds of success and huge upfront costs could mean the death of both businesses. Instead of taking low-probability choices with huge sums of money, a better choice might be to invest in non-operational assets (either private or public). An interesting book that captures this exact topic is "Outsiders" by William Thorndike. In Thorndike’s research, he finds that business owners that consider a very wide array of investment options - beyond their operational business model - tend to have the best growth. One must first master their original business, but once that is achieved and retained earnings are being added to the balance sheet, the compounding and optimization of those earnings is what differentiates professionals from amateurs. In short, business owners must become great investors too. Warren Buffett is famous for saying, "I'm a better investor because I'm a businessman, and I'm a better businessman because I'm an investor." For many people, they might see these activities as being the same thing, but for Buffett, investing and operational leadership are different skills that both need mastered.
Financial worries. We all have them. If these worries tend to get you down, South Georgia Banking Company has some great tips to help get those worries under control and develop your own personal budgeting plan.
Getting your family’s budget under control can result in spending more time enjoying life and less time stressed about how you’re going to fund it. Here are a few tips to get you on track:
• Budgeting is all about planning. Take back the power of your finances with a smart, well-laid plan that includes saving, paying expenses and other spending.
• Think about WHY and HOW you’re spending. Again, be deliberate about your purchases, and don’t buy just because you “have to.”
• Ask yourself, “Do I have money for this purchase?” If the answer is no, maybe it’s time to rethink. Creating excessive debt is a serious bummer – try to avoid if at all possible.
• Track your spending as you go – after each purchase, make a list of your spending and be sure you’re staying within your budget.
• Remain diligent and follow the budget plan as closely as possible while you’re out and about. In other words, you made the plan in a calm state of mind – stick to it.
• Your budget provides parameters to buy and do the things that matter most to you - without worry or unplanned bills you may struggle to repay. Use it!
Make a plan - both you and your pocketbook will be glad you did! And remember, these tips extend into every financial decision every day. Finding financial freedom for your family this year is well within reach.
A word of caution: creating and sticking to a personal budgeting plan can’t happen overnight! One method to consider is called “Zero-Based” budgeting. Instead of basing your budget on the past, you start fresh by writing down your total income; then, you list out all your fixed expenses such rent or mortgage, car payments. [Many people include savings in fixed expenses, with the idea of “paying yourself first,” knowing that even small amounts add up.] Then, make a list of variable expenses, such as groceries, eating out, and clothes. After you subtract expenses from income; you can see if there is an extra and decide how it should be used…extra savings, creating an emergency fund you contribute to monthly, or paying extra on your car may be options. Take this information and create a chart in Excel or other grid format and track your actual expenses throughout each month. This approach allows you easily see where you’re on track and where you are overspending. It’s empowering to take control of your money!
South Georgia Banking Company encourages everyone to strive for a solid financial foundation. If you have questions about your family’s budget plan, ask us for help! It’s important to take control of your financial life/finances; that way, if you need a loan for a larger purchase, a mortgage or your business, you’ll be one step ahead. Call or come in to your nearest South Georgia Banking Company branch today, and we’ll help you get started.
Life is expensive. It’s a fact. We could all use a little extra money for things like home improvements, education costs or other unexpected expenses. So why not unlock your home’s potential to help out? A HELOC, or Home Equity Line of Credit, is a type of loan that allows you to borrow money using your home as collateral. South Georgia Banking Company offers this valuable option to our customers, and having an SGBC account entitles you to a lower HELOC rate. What are some of the highlights of the SGBC HELOC?
• Use HELOC funds for: Home Improvement, Investments, Student Loans, Debt Consolidation, Unexpected Personal Expenses, and more.
• Easily access your HELOC funds through SGBC Online Banking.
• HELOC credit lines are between $10,000 and $300,000.
To apply and find out if you qualify for a HELOC loan, contact SGBC and one of our Loan Officers to get the process started. Our SGBC officers can walk you through the details of the HELOC including minimum advances, interest rates, fees, and repayment terms.
HELOC loans are easy to use and we would love to help you get started. South Georgia Banking Company is excited to offer extensive loan options to our customers -- we look forward to walking you through the possibilities and making your dreams a reality. Contact us today for details on the SGBC HELOC or click here to learn more.
Avoiding Scams for Your Small Business
In the wake of recent data breaches, shoppers should be on high alert while purchasing their presents this holiday season.
“While millions of credit and debit card transactions are conducted safely every day, it’s important that consumers are aware of the potential for holiday scams,” said Melinda Moore, Senior Vice President.
South Georgia Banking Company offers the following tips to help consumer keep their information safe whether shopping in the store or online:
• Monitor your account. Use online and mobile banking to keep an eye on your transactions, especially during the holidays. Notify the bank right away if there’s any fraudulent activity.
• Beware of phishing scams. During the holidays, criminals will create a fake email for a deal that’s too good to be true. If you click on any links within the email, you may be downloading malware onto your computer or you may be asked for payment information that could lead to fraud.
• Limit large sums of cash. Even though we’ve seen financial crime migrate from physical to cyber, customers should be careful not to carry around large sums of cash when shopping.
• Secure your internet connection. If shopping online, make sure you do so from a password protected Wi-Fi network. Never access online banking from a public Wi-Fi network.
• Shop safely. Before making an online purchase, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
South Georgia Banking Company organized a Peanut Butter Food Drive throughout the region this fall. All eight branches participated in Tift, Colquitt, Turner, Crisp and Dooly Counties.
The employees and communities really came through in this food drive. In Vienna, every single jar of the 1,223 collected came from individual donors and an impressive effort by the Dooly County school system. The Ashburn branch collaborated with Peanut Proud who added a whole pallet of creamy goodness. The majority of that collection was distributed to local churches and Backpack Buddies.
The collection drive was winding down when Jeff Hollis of Golden Boy Peanuts walked into SGBC's 2nd Street branch. He noticed the peanut butter collection and wanted to be a part. The Golden Boy contributions nearly doubled the collection of the entire bank.
"We had originally planned to support two or three Tift County food pantries, but with the additional contributions from Golden Boy, we had to expand our reach! We were able to spread hope to most every agency in Tifton. It was such a blessing to be a part of this endeavor and we are thankful to all who helped make it happen!" said Maghan Campbell, Marketing Director at South Georgia Banking Company.
In total, SGBC's bank-wide donation total was 5,694 jars for distribution to local food pantries throughout the communities. "Thank you to all of our customers and those who donated. You are making a difference." said Glenn Willis, president of South Georgia Banking Company.
We proudly continue our Customer Service Representative spotlight series with Carlie Tawzer. Carlie has been with South Georgia Banking Company - in our Omega branch - for nearly four years and truly defines the spirit of connection that we strive to have with our customers and communities.
"I'm a people person, and I love interacting with my customers on a daily basis," says Carlie. "SGBC has a very diverse customer base, and everyone has a story. I love hearing these stories and working with them to find solutions. Because every interaction is so different, I feel that allows for significant personal growth in my own life."
Beyond the close relationships that Carlie forms with SGBC customers, she also enjoys the community spirit that the bank is so proud to display. SGBC's involvement with Relay for Life (supporting the American Cancer Society), Suitcases for Kids, food drives for local shelters, the Uganda Glasses Drive and the Seamless Summer program are just a few of the ways that the bank allows its employees to really get involved with important community services. Carlie recalls that the first week she was at work for SGBC, there was a bank tour for Omega Elementary's 1st grade students. She also mentions that SGBC is continuously planning for the next event - whether it is the Omega Pepper Festival, Trunk-or-Treat or the upcoming Christmas festivities - SGBC is always involved.
"I enjoy the family atmosphere we have at SGBC, especially in the smaller branches," Carlie continues. "We go above and beyond banking; we have personally driven to elderly customers' homes to check on them during the high temperatures this summer. We genuinely care about our customers."
So next time you're in Omega, stop in South Georgia Banking Company and meet Carlie. She embodies the SGBC connection that we strive so hard to keep.
South Georgia Banking Company is committed to providing our customers with the latest information as far as the safety and security of their personal information and monetary security is concerned. In light of recent hacks (Yahoo is the most recent and widespread example), we want to arm you with tips to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Cybercrime continues to be a growing problem in the U.S. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, in 2015 the agency received approximately 288,000 complaints from consumers who were exposed to online fraud — up from nearly 270,000 in 2014. In recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the American Bankers Association is urging online users to take simple steps to safeguard their personal information, protect their networks and stop fraud.
“Fraudsters are using the Internet to facilitate all types of scams,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy. “As a result, it is extremely important that online users secure their Internet connection and install the latest security software to lessen their exposure to online threats.”
ABA recommends the following tips to protect yourself while navigating the web:
1. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
2. Create complic@t3d passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
3. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
4. Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
5. Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
6. Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
The American Bankers Association is the voice of the nation’s $16 trillion banking industry, which is composed of small, regional and large banks that together employ more than 2 million people, safeguard $12 trillion in deposits and extend more than $8 trillion in loans.
If you are concerned about your or your family’s cyber-security, please call South Georgia Banking Company, and be sure to take these 7 precautions in keeping your personal information secure.
Source: American Bankers Association
Celebrate Georgia Peanut Week with SGBC Local Food Drive
South Georgia Banking Company (SGBC) celebrates Georgia Peanut Bank Week by acknowledging all Georgia peanut farmers and industry professionals for their outstanding peanut production and contribution to our economy. As a part of Georgia Peanut Bank Week, SGBC is collecting jars of peanut butter at all of our branches which will be distributed to local food pantries in the communities we serve. The peanut butter drive is from October 1st through October 21st - we hope you or your business will consider contributing! Each of our branches will collect for their own community, just stop by your local SGBC location to drop off your jars. Following is a list of the local food pantries that will benefit from this peanut butter drive:
- Tifton - Brother Charlie’s, Community Action Agency and Backpack Blessings
- Vienna - Open Hearts Thrift Store
- Cordele - Hands of Hope
- Ashburn - Local church food pantries
- Moultrie - Colquitt County Food Bank
- Omega - Brother Charlie’s and Community Action Agency
Additionally, SGBC will be hosting a peanut-themed Customer Appreciation Day on October 21st at each of our locations. Georgia leads the nation in peanut production and is proud to support the peanut industry and our local farmers. Stop by for a snack and let us show our appreciation! And don’t forget to help us SPREAD hope by donating peanut butter. Visit our locations page addresses. Check out the news release on WALB (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window).
No, you’re not imagining things; South Georgia Banking Company has a new website! We love this new way of connecting with you and think you will love it too. Not only is the look more modern, it is much easier to navigate and it works better on your tablets and smart phones.
But, we improved more than just the look of our site – you’ll love the new functions, here’s an overview:
- Quick links are on the home page to reorder checks, apply for a credit card and more – allowing you to handle these tasks at your convenience.
- An online loan application makes applying for a loan something you can do on your time, with a few clicks.
- Try out the new calculators! Learn how you can pay off your mortgage quicker, calculate loan payments or check out how saving even just a little every month can have a huge pay off.
- Request information or give us feedback with our easy to use forms.
- The new site search function makes it easy to find what you need.
- In another town and looking for an SGBC location? You’ll love our new mapping function, found in the Locations tab.
- Bank news and information: stay up to date on new products and features, along with articles about our staff and customers in our improved news sections right on the home page.
- Local branch information: we’re a local bank and proud of it! Being connected to our communities is important to us and we know it is important to you. Our new site provides local news and updates for each of our locations. Check it out!
In this fast paced, instant-gratification, automated society we live in, things have gotten very impersonal these days. It’s hard to get personalized attention or a real human voice on the phone with a lot of companies. But if you bank with South Georgia Banking Company, you know when you call there will be a local employee on the other end of the phone. You will never get a remote call center in another community – SGBC prides themselves on connecting with their customers on a local level.
If you live in Ashburn and need a hand at SGBC, one of the people you may speak with is Daisy Lee Speight. Daisy has been working in the banking industry since 1960, and she currently volunteers at SGBC as a Customer Service Representative just because, as she puts it, “I really enjoy what I do.”
“I love meeting people and also talking to people I’ve known for years,” Daisy says. “If a customer tells me what they need, I can either help them myself or tell them who they need to talk to.” With such an extensive background in banking, Daisy often can handle the customer’s needs without transferring them to another department.
Daisy has lived in Ashburn all of her life, and she knows most of Ashburn’s SGBC customers. She can even recognize a lot of their voices over the phone before they tell her their names. That’s customer service, and that’s local connection.
Daisy is also closely connected with the community as an active member of 1st Baptist Church of Ashburn, volunteer with Hospice and the Red Cross. She and her husband raised two children in Ashburn, and she now has 5 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren (with 2 more on the way!). Many in Ashburn know Daisy as a wonderful hostess – she has held many a party at her home (some even for SGBC), and she still plays bridge once a month and loves to cook, sew and garden.
South Georgia Banking Company takes customer service seriously and we want our customers to know we care. Daisy is one example of the many caring Customer Service Representatives (CSR) we have at all our SGBC branches. All our CSRs are local and knowledgeable and do their best to serve you in a professional but always friendly manner. Connecting locally with someone you know makes banking a more enjoyable and comfortable experience.
You’ll never get a call center with us; but if you’re lucky, you just might get Daisy when you call.
Our new Online Banking platform will launch September 8! This new technology provides the latest in online banking while allowing you to connect with a community bank – we think this is the best of both worlds. We are excited to announce that Quicken and QuickBooks will both be available to our Online Banking customers.
Below is some important information you need to know about our new Online Banking platform, in addition to knowing the service will be even more user-friendly, with improved navigation and search features. Please take the time to review these points about the conversion to our new Online Banking system.
- At the end of August, current Online Banking customers will receive a letter about the conversion to our new platform with information about accessing your accounts for the first time. Please keep this letter for reference!
- Online Banking access will NOT be available September 6 beginning at 2:00 pm through September 8 at 9:00 am – this applies to Online Banking, Mobile Banking, eStatements and Bill Pay. NOTE: Bill pay will still send out scheduled payments.
- The new system will be live on September 8 at 9:00 am
- Bill Pay history and payees will convert to the new system; however, we recommend that you print a list of all payees and their information for your records.
- Please be sure NOT to reenter a previously scheduled Bill Pay payment: this will result in duplicate payments.
- Scheduled transfers and loan payments set up in Online Banking will need to be set up in the new system; these elements will not automatically convert.
- It will be necessary for you to access your new Online Banking account FIRST and change your password before you can access your account through the Mobile Banking app.
Remember to delete your old bookmarks for Online Banking – these links will not direct you to the new system. We encourage you to bookmark our new home page www.sgbconline.com to access your Online Banking account. With the upcoming conversion, you can be assured that the login button on our home page will always take you to the right place, and that way you can stay up to date on our news too.
If you have any questions or concerns at all, please contact your local office; our customer service representatives are ready to help!
South Georgia Banking Company (SGBC) collects close to 100 pairs of used prescription and reading glasses to support local missions team for their upcoming trip to Uganda. These spectacles, along with other collections from the community, will be used for a medical/vision clinic in the remote villages of Uganda.
In preparation for the trip, Dr. Wes Ross and his wife, Shannon graded the glasses, repaired minor damages and sorted each pair based on prescription in order to distribute them appropriately. The people of these communities are likely to have never experienced a vision exam or had access to corrective lenses. In addition to the medical mission, the Uganda Mission team also plans to build a chicken coup for the Cannan Orphanage to ensure a steady supply of protein for the children with easy access to fresh eggs. South Georgia Banking Company is proud to support local people making a difference.
Pictured (l-r) are Carlie Tawzer, Johnny Bryan, Kristen Sconyers and Jane Justice with SGBC; Dr. Wes Ross with South Georgia Eye Partners; Chris Cutts with SGBC; Alice Johnson, Uganda Team leader; Connie Massengale, Melinda Moore and Sara Moore with SGBC.
All South Georgia Banking Company locations participated in a United Way food Drive with much success! Overall, employees and customers collected more than 2,820 items of food for the United Way food drive held in November. The food was donated to the community in which it was collected.
Elizah Huff of Tifton, GA, is the 2016 top winner of the $500 Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship from South Georgia Banking Company. Huff was chosen by a regional panel of judges for her impressive academic performance at Tiftarea Academy as well as her long list of extracurricular and civic activities within the community. Huff started her own business when she was 14 - making and selling handmade soaps and scrubs - and she also bought and restored (along with her father) a vintage VW. Huff will go on to compete for one of the four Hester Memorial $1,000 scholarships chosen by the Community Bankers Association (CBA).
The Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship programs awards $1,000 annually to four deserving high school seniors planning to attend a Georgia college/university/technical school beginning the Fall semester after graduation from high school, along with with local scholarship recipients. Local winner Elizah Huff has proven to be well-rounded and success-oriented. As STAR student of her senior class, Huff is dual-enrolled at ABAC and Brewton Parker College and will attend Young Harris College in the fall.
Zachery Willis of Tifton, the local runner up, is also a candidate for the CBA scholarship award. Willis, who attends Tiftarea Academy, has maintained an impressive grade point average while dual-enrolled at ABAC and Brewton-Parker College. Willis’ excellent academic record and extracurricular activities, some of which include Wrestling Team, Beta Club and Cross Country, contributed to him being chosen to compete for this scholarship. He will continue his education at ABAC in the fall.
The Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship is named after long-time CBA Chief Executive Officer, the late Julian Hester and his late daughter, Jan Hester. Jan was a senior at the University of Georgia when she died in an automobile accident in April of 1990. In addition to supporting community banking, this scholarship is an opportunity to pass on the positive qualities both Julian and Jan Hester exemplified to further the development of tomorrow’s generations.
Please join South Georgia Banking Company in congratulating both of these outstanding students and wishing them luck with their very bright futures.
PICTURED ARE L to R: Zachery Willis, Ashburn City President Chris McCard, Elizah Huff