On April 21, TD Banknorth became a DDIFO Associate Member. Paul Lavallee, Vice President of the Commercial Lending Division in Worcester, spearheaded this partnership and is thrilled to bring TD Banknorth’s valuable products and services to the DD franchise community. Lavallee serves as the contact point person for DD franchise owners.

Paul Lavallee, TD Banknorth

Paul Lavallee, VP Franchise Lending, TD Banknorth

Prior to joining TD Banknorth in March of this year, Lavallee had worked for Sovereign Bank for eight years, moving up from a support role to Vice President of Franchise Lending in the Worcester office. Throughout his years with Sovereign, Lavallee was instrumental in developing relationships and growing the bank’s portfolio of lending to DD franchise owners from about $70 million to more than $450 million. Lavallee says he loved his work with the DD franchise owners in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. At TD Banknorth, Lavallee sees an opportunity to establish a franchise unit and hopes to rekindle the relationships he has developed over the years.

On top of the outstanding products and services TD Banknorth can offer to franchise owners, Lavallee asserts that there is an invaluable and unique piece of the puzzle that this institution brings to the table: relationship-based, hands-on, old-fashioned banking. At TD Banknorth, Lavallee says it’s all about the relationships, not just the numbers – getting to know customers personally and providing products and services that best meet their needs.

TD Banknorth prides itself on offering a level of service that goes above and beyond what other banks provide. “Unlike Dunkin’ Donuts, where people are addicted, for lack of a better word, to the Brand’s unique coffee and other products, financial products tend to be the same from bank to bank,” says Lavallee. “I strive to personalize services and become a professional partner with the franchise owners. We are on the same team. If their businesses do well, I do well.”

Another boon for TD Banknorth is the fact that it is actively lending. With the parent company (Toronto-Dominion) headquartered in Canada, the TD Bank Financial Group was not affected by the sub-prime mortgage market in the way that many US financial institutions were. “In rough economic times, it’s important for a bank to work with its customers,” Lavallee emphasizes. “You need to get on the same side of the table with the franchisee, the accountant and the attorney and work together to find a solution, a true win-win.”

TD Banknorth already has relationships with several DD Franchise owners in New England that involve equipment, development and real estate loans as well as the retail depository side. Lavallee’s hope is to grow and expand these relationships as he appreciates what a solid business and great track record DD franchisees have.

Ultimately, he wants to be able to offer even more of a “one-stop shopping” scenario by introducing franchise owners to TD Insurance, which has been protecting businesses throughout the Northeast for well over 100 years. Lavallee recognizes that current franchise owners already have insurance plans in place, but he hopes to at least offer an insurance check-up so franchisees can make sure they are getting the best deal.

“Using the insurance check-up analogy, starting at a new bank allows me to think outside the box, reflect on what has worked well and what hasn’t,” says Lavallee. “These are unique times that call for us all to work together on best practices. I appreciate the opportunity to be an associate member of the DDIFO and work with the backbone of the Brand, its franchise owners and operators.”

The DDIFO Associate Membership program offers businesses and vendors exclusive members’-only benefits and privileges designed to provide them optimal visibility and access to DD franchise owners. At the same time, the program provides value to the franchise owners by making them aware of quality vendors offering beneficial services. For more information please contact Membership Director Amy Levine,  email her at amyglevine@ddifo.org or call her at 508-422-1161.