My son goes to college in Montana, where the state motto is: “Home of the 10 mph RV.” We also have family there, so summers are often spent driving from one end of the state to the other. In Montana— like most states where cattle outnumber people—distances are vast. You can cross three time zones just to find good coffee.
But that’s Montana.
How do credit unions deal with distances where the only reasonable mode of transportation is an airplane? How can credit unions provide any sort of service when a trip to the mailbox means filling up the tank and packing an overnight bag?
The answer, contrary to conventional wisdom, is: You don’t. That’s right. Forget about delivering products and services to members. Make members come to you—just like in the good ol’ days. After all, this is what members deserve if they choose to live in the middle of the map labeled “Nowhere.”
Here are 10 low-tech strategies to make sure your credit union lives in the good ol’ days. These strategies will keep your members living close to you and prevent them from wandering away like feral cats:
2. Want to offer shared branching? Why don’t you just gift wrap your members and send them to another credit union? Really, if members can go anywhere to access their accounts, they probably will.
3. If you subscribe to a surcharge-free ATM network, you’re encouraging members to use it. If they need cash, make them pay for it, preferably $2 or $3 at a time.
4. In this age of electronic communication, make sure you deliver everything via the U.S. Postal Service.
5. The latest fad is to let members open share accounts, apply for loans, and even sign documents remotely. What are you thinking?
6. Like IRS audits, call center hours should be limited and infrequent. Who cares if members are traveling in Hawaii? They’re on vacation and you aren’t—enough reason to smite them.
7. Restricting the use of your debit cards to local merchants is a good way to prevent fraud and a great way to keep members from wandering off. At my credit union, we have a blacklist of countries that few people go to—Iran, Anything-stan, and North Dakota.
8. Offer special rates only to members who come into your lobby. Ignore the call/email/text crowd. As a bonus, advertise these special rates only in your branch. That way, your high-tech members will never know what they missed.
9. If you have branches in remote locations, keep it that way. Treat these branches as you would a relative with a checkered past—far away and forgotten. After all, real decisions are made at the real headquarters.10. Keep your local, historical name even if you move elsewhere. It’s like retaining the name “Disneyland” when you move to France. This will help people see you as irrelevant and out-of-place. And it might be why the French want to smack Goofy in the head. Just a hunch.
If, however, you decide to reject these 10 low-tech strategies and go with a strong surcharge-free ATM network, shared-branching access, and world-class remote services, then be prepared to kiss your nice empty parking lot goodbye.