Interview: ROK Financial Talks Lending, Customer Feedback, and Trust

Rebecca Graham

Last Updated: December 20th, 2021

Here at Best Company, we’re all about helping consumers access accurate information and helping businesses establish their online reputation. At the heart of these aims is a commitment to real reviews — especially when it comes to significant financial decisions, like taking out a business loan. 

ROK Financial CRO Patrick Manning understands the importance of customer voices for establishing trust, improving processes, and educating prospective borrowers about what to expect when they finance through an alternative lending broker. 

Manning walks us through these concepts and more in this interview with Best Company’s Head of Product Marketing, Justin Ashby. 

Ready to take the next steps for your business? 

Visit ROK Financial's profile to learn more about the company, its reviews, and its products. 

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Topic guide by segment:

Traditional lending vs. alternative lending (0:20)
ROK as a comparative online marketplace (1:50)
How reviews can build trust and assist prospective borrowers (3:50)   
How ROK has made improvements based on customer feedback (6:05)
What makes ROK different from other companies (7:35) 
Tips for business loan comparison shopping (10:15) 

The transcript has been edited for length and readability.  

Ashby (BC): So talk to us a little about ROK Financial, how you may be different than some of your competition. It's an interesting industry that you work in — you do help quite a few customers as well. So, talk to us a little bit about your business.

Manning (ROK): Absolutely. How are we different, right? And this [ROK Financial and Best Company] relationship really speaks directly to how we're different. 

You know, when it comes to business finance outside of traditional lending, which is where we operate. . . traditional to me is the Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo's of the world. When those options are not in play for a business owner, there's this alternative world that they have to turn to. And in that alternative marketplace, there are so many different lenders, there are so many different products. It's really hard to determine the real from the fake or where you should go. 

And the reason why it's so difficult is that these lenders that are in this private sector — they're not in the local community, they're not on the corner of Main Street, right? So when these business owners are searching for these options, they're looking online, they're not able to walk into a physical location. It's hard to know who you're interacting with and if they're the right company or not. 

What really separates us is number one, the fact that we put a big focus on having an online reputation, partnering with companies like Best Company, where we can be very transparent with business owners that are out there and say, “Hey, you know, don't take our word for it, don't just listen to our marketing.” Yeah, we do marketing because we need to let you know that we're here and what we offer. But at the end of the day, the reason why you should choose to work with us is for that reputation that we've put in place because of the fact that we are transparent and we get testimonials from our past clients. So you know what type of experience you know to expect with us.

But what is ROK Financial? ROK Financial is a leading online marketplace for alternative business solutions — for any different type of business financing. We offer things from SBA lending to term loans, lines of credit, and even specific equipment financing. So, you know, various financial products that we offer specifically for small businesses. And what's really cool about us is we're a one-stop shop. So we offer this online marketplace that consists of 75 different lenders that offer 6 to 10 different products. And instead of searching for all these lenders and brokers who I mentioned have no online reputation or you're not really sure what you're going to get, you can come to ROK and you know what they're all about. They are very transparent. The reviews are online. 

But most importantly, we'll do that comparative shopping for you. You know, we'll get to understand your business, your needs, the opportunities or challenges you may be facing. And then we hand-select a group of lenders that we feel is the best fit for you based on what you qualify for and what you're looking to accomplish. And then we ensure we get you the best offer. So we're a service provider to small business owners. We go out there and we bring the best offers — the best lenders — to the table. We make them compete against each other to ultimately drive you, the business owner, the best offer. 

And this way you can cut down on time shopping and going through paperwork and you can stay focused on running your business and trust ROK to bring you that best financial product. If you're looking to expand the business or purchase inventory or do a remodel, there are so many different reasons as to why a business would need to borrow capital. And we're just here to ensure that when that time comes for you, that you're getting the best offer, you're not overpaying, and ultimately your information is protected and you're getting the best deal for your business or the best bang for your buck. 

Ashby (BC): Yeah, that's great. And I'd like to talk a little bit about that trust that you've built. You know, there's a lot of ways that you can kind of pay for reputation if you will. There are a lot of websites, a lot of places that will kind of prop up your brand. Now, you've utilized the Best Company platform because we don’t do that. There are no payment platforms so that you can get elevated in some type of rankings or anything like that. 

And you've got a lot of great reviews. I think you guys just surpassed more than 100 positive reviews and especially for your industry, where you're not dealing with millions and millions of customers, it's amazing how many of your customers have been willing to leave you positive reviews. Have you guys read those reviews and actually adjusted your product and offering according to what your customers have said? What have those reviews really meant to you?

Manning (ROK): Oh yeah, I mean, absolutely. You've absolutely hit the nail on the head there. You know, we've used this platform and I also appreciate you pointing out that Best Company specifically is a platform where there's no pay-to-play model. This isn't a situation in which we're paying a fee to have positive reviews or a reputation built for us. This is very organic and is really built off the work of the team here internally and what they carry out on the phone with their clients. 

But yeah, this has been a huge opportunity for us to hear from our client base. Of course, we read every review. We're a smart group of people, right? We understand that the scariest thing for a business owner is borrowing money and sharing personal information online with somebody that they've never met face-to-face, right? So the biggest reason why we've utilized the platform is to bring that sense of security to those that are looking for financing and give them that layer of comfort — hey, here's past reviews. Here's what people who have worked with us, what they said. You will know that by applying through us, your information will be protected, you will have a positive experience. 

So number one, it's been a great way for us to bring that comfort level to our customer base. But then, more importantly, once we raise that comfort level we start to work together now — we want to learn from you. We have a saying here internally where we say, “Cover your belly button” and basically what that means is to be open to the feedback. We understand that there's always room for improvement — that's a core belief of ours, that we can always get better. 

This has been a great platform to hear from our customer base and empower them to give us that feedback. You know, we have heard certain things from our clients like, “Hey, at this point of the process, I would rather hear about a more confirmed offer before I share certain banking information.” So we took that feedback, and we instantly implemented it into our process. And we've gotten a lot of positive feedback since making that adjustment. 

Ultimately, what our business comes down to is efficiency. We want our application process to be fast and easy, so we're always looking at ways to innovate our process and new technologies that we can implement to make it a simple application or borrowing process. Hearing back and getting testimonials from our clients has honestly been like a cheat code in that sense because we're hearing exactly from the horse's mouth: “Hey, this is what we think would work best.” “This would really make our experience enjoyable.” And we take careful consideration to all of that feedback and try to implement as much of it as we can, all while maintaining the integrity of our process. You know, we do need to be a structured-process business. 

Ashby (BC): Yeah, that makes sense. My other question for you is, a lot of potential customers who are on Best Company are learning about different ways to access financing and they will come across ROK Financial and they may come across other companies as well. What would you tell those customers that are kind of analyzing the playing field, what other options are out there? How do you feel like ROK Financial really differentiates itself from the field?

Manning (ROK): Yeah, it really keeps going back to this online reputation and the reviews and what people are saying, I mean, what else can you go off of? I mean, you don't know any of us when you start applying for financing, whether it's my company, another broker out there, or a direct lender. You don't know any of us from a hole in the wall, and with the direct lenders, there's this negative connotation around brokers at times.

But we scream from the rooftop, we love to be the broker because to us, that's where we can provide the most value to you as the borrower. We’re able to gather a variety of offers from multiple lenders, then we get them to compete against one another to ultimately drive you, the end-user, the borrower, the best product possible. And then with the direct lenders, they have their product. When you're a direct lender, you can’t have 80,000 products, you have your product, and either that works for a particular borrower, or it doesn't. So for us, being a broker makes us very dynamic in what we can offer back to our customer base and ensure you that you are getting the most competitive offer that's out there. 

But like I was mentioning, just based on the reviews, right? And don't ever put all your eggs in one basket, you know. If you're watching this video, don't take my word for it, and it’s very nice for you to have us on here, but this isn’t about us just promoting ourselves and saying how great we are. By all means, look us up. 

There are multiple platforms that you can search “ROK Financial” and you'll see that we have thousands of reviews that maintain five stars or better, so we really do back our word in that sense. And you know, the proof is in the pie, we always say. Go look for yourself, don’t take our word for it.  

But that's the first thing you're gonna find: you should look at multiple options. I'm telling you to look at multiple options. But when you look at those options, if you see ROK Financial has thousands of reviews, a five-star rating, a huge online presence, social media, and constantly sharing content transparency into the workplace, this is their team, this is who you're talking to and working with. And then you look at the other companies and they don't even have a website or they have no reviews? Don't take that lightly. Don't be the guinea pig with something as important as your business. 

You know, most business owners have sacrificed something personal to get that business off the ground, whether it be their personal finances, their savings, or their personal credit score. A lot of people leverage something personal to get the business off the ground. This is your baby. This is something that's very important to you. So when you do finally decide to put your trust in somebody, definitely look at the reviews and start there. And then if you see multiple companies with good reviews and good feedback, then my advice from there is to go with the field.  You know, if the reviews are real, you're clearly in good hands, there are other people outside of us, and we're not for everybody, we know that. 

But we're direct, we're honest, we're to the point, and even sometimes negative information could be good information. Some people will tell you, “Hey, you just don't qualify for this and you're getting that.” Well, we always believe in putting education behind that. Like, “Hey, do X, Y, and Z for your business. This is why you're not qualifying. This is what we can do to get you to qualify for that. But in the meantime, here's a plan that we can execute and get you going on where you're looking to go.”

So that's just our approach. Definitely lean on the reviews — any company you decide to give your personal information to or apply for financing should be somebody reputable and there should be a track record of that listed somewhere online. Start there. 

Ashby (BC): Right — perfect, Patrick. That was great for any potential customers that are watching this. Obviously, if you're on ROK Financial’s profile page on Best Company, scroll down, read more about them, and check out the reviews. If you're seeing this anywhere else online, there is a page for ROK Financial and Best Company where you can learn more and get a hold of them that way. Patrick, thanks for spending some time. Hopefully, this gives some more context about your business and how they can access financing. 

Manning (ROK): Thank you.

Visit ROK Financial's profile page for more information about their products. 

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