) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. Huntington Bank ranks highest in small-business customer satisfaction.

Small-business banking customers continue to be underserved by their financial institutions, according to the

J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study

released Friday.

The annual study says overall satisfaction among small-business banking customers averages 736 (out of 1,000). While the score is a 19-point increase from 2011, satisfaction is still significantly lower than among retail banking customers (whose satisfaction scores average around 753).


Huntington Bancshares

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ranks highest in small-business banking satisfaction, with a score of 793 and performs particularly well in account activities, product offerings, fees and account information.

SunTrust Banks

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(BBT) - Get Report

rounded out the top three banks among the rankings with scores of 774 and 772, respectively.

The study finds that when small-business banking customers are greeted by name, the positive impact on overall satisfaction is 106 points. However, this occurs only 47% of the time, compared to 64% of the time among retail banking customers. This disparity occurs even though small business customers bank in person at the branch more than twice as often as retail customers, J.D. Power and Associates says.

"When it comes to customer satisfaction, sometimes it really is the little things that matter. Simple gestures, like greeting customers by name as they walk in, go a long way in providing a satisfying experience," said Jim Miller, senior director of banking at J.D. Power and Associates. "Due to the value of their business to the bank, and how frequently they visit the branch, small business banking customers expect, and deserve, a level of service that is greater than that of retail banking customers."

The seventh annual study measures small-business customer satisfaction with the overall banking experience by examining eight factors: product offerings; account manager; facility; account information; problem resolution; credit services; fees; and account activities.

This year's study includes responses from 7,246 small-business owners or financial decision-makers who use business banking services. The study was fielded from Aug. 10 through Sept. 10.

2. Keeping your seasonal business going year-round.

Franchises that were once thought of as seasonal businesses are finding new ways to extend their operations year-round and ultimately to their bottom line, according to


. House painters, tax preparers, exterminators, Halloween retailers and others are looking at ways to give franchisees options to extend their seasons and income opportunities. That could mean adding new "non-seasonal" services or allying with a separate franchise to share equipment and employees, , the article says.

3. Bank of America projects that its small-business customers hurt by Sandy will need $2.5 billion to recover.

Bank of America

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has mobilized about 1,000 of its small-business relationship bankers to reach out to thousands of small-business customers impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

"Based on what we have already heard from customers, we project they will need $2.5 billion in additional credit, and we are prepared to provide that on favorable terms to help them recover from the storm. If those needs increase, we will be there. We are committed to getting them through this difficult time," says David Darnell, Bank of America' s co-chief operating officer.

Under the company's

disaster-relief program

, Bank of America customers affected by severe storms and floods in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., may qualify to be able to modify or extend payments on loans, credit cards or lines of credit; increase credit card limits and lines of credit; and receive special assistance with lost, missing or late loan or card payments.

The Charlotte-based bank will also automatically refund certain fees incurred between Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 for consumer and small-business customers in affected states.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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