And now the business is moving over all its banking over to TD!
For Suzanne Cochrane, the 225 employees at Helms Bros. Mercedes Benz, Bayside Volkswagen and Volvo of Queens are more than people who work for the native New Yorker, they are family.
Considering the empowering general manager has spent the last four decades working at these dealerships, it's truly genuine when she calls them family. And amid a global pandemic, layoffs and an economic shutdown, Suzanne is still treating everyone who works for her, and even those who don't anymore, like family.
It's why she recently jumped at the opportunity to apply for critical loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), as part of the historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The Helms Group, the dealership Suzanne runs, had been banking with both TD Bank and Citibank. But after submitting her PPP application through TD during the first phase of funding and hearing back in just a few days that the loan had been validated, she said the dealership plans to move all its accounts over to TD.
"Our employees are the most important people to us," she said. "Knowing this loan opportunity was out there, we were very anxious to get the application submitted and approved. The TD application process was seamless and easy to understand."
Under the PPP, loan amounts are subject to forgiveness if they are used for eligible payroll costs and other expenses, such as utilities and rent. In total, Suzanne said they applied for $3 million in loans across the three separate dealerships she manages.
Suzanne said that she's been in constant contact with her current and past employees, sending them daily words and messages of wisdom and inspiration. It's something she did even before COVID-19 and the response from them in the past few weeks is that they need these jolts of joy now more than ever.
As much as Suzanne is there for her working family, TD is and has been there for its Small Business clients. Suzanne raved about local TD contacts like Mary Doyle-Ferriello, TD Auto Finance's Regional Sales Director for the New York area, along with TDAF Dealer Relations Manager Philip Iafrate and TD Bank Store Manager Lori Starita, who were knowledgeable about the PPP application process itself but also stayed in constant contact to make sure Suzanne was holding up during this trying time.
"I consider them friends," she said. "Mary called me at 8:30 p.m. one night to make sure I was OK. She gave me so much information, I wanted to cry. It was just an elevated experience, you feel like a valued client, though they are a large bank."
As a leader with TD Auto Finance, Mary not only gave credit to her team, including Philip and Lori, she also said Elena Mullahey, Vice President of SBA Lending at TD, was making sure her team was informed, so they could keep a valued client like Suzanne up to speed on what they knew, as they knew it. The day the government opened up the loan program, information was spotty at best and TD was working hard to learn as much as possible to be able to offer PPP loans with struggling small business customers in need.
"People, they need the money for their business, but it's also about having information and keeping our customer up to date on the process," Mary said. "Look, it's TD, we are going to do it right and make it a good experience for everyone."
Mary explained that delivering a seamless experience in a few days wasn't just about creating an easy-to-use digital application, but also about enabling loan officers and agents to review and process applications quickly.
Mary added that she recently got an email from Suzanne's boss, currently away in Hawaii and unable to get back to New York amid mandated travel shutdowns. He reinforced what Suzanne said, adding that he plans to bring his entire banking needs to TD once he's back and COVID-19 is under control.
"When you hear about her experience, that's what we strive for every day at TD. I think what Lori and Phil did is what we want every employee to do," Mary said. "They earned her business by delivering Legendary Service."