Want More Business? Just Ask

Oregon Community CU created a retail plan built around four elements.

January 10, 2011

Teaching employees to effectively ask members for business helped Oregon Community Credit Union in Eugene achieve nearly 9% loan growth during the first five months of 2010.

Oregon Community’s success reflects a commitment to transforming operations by creating a sales and service culture.

These efforts earned the $911 million asset credit union a 2010 Credit Union Excellence in Lending Award from CUNA Mutual Group and the CUNA Lending Council.

Employee behavior

To support its culture transformation, Oregon Community created a Retail Plan around four elements:

  • Changes in employee behavior;
  • Expansion of member relationships;
  • Redefining the role of branch manager; and
  • Alignment and collaboration of all departments.

To tackle the plan’s biggest component—changing employee behavior—the credit union developed a comprehensive program called “360 Training” based on feedback from 30 employees.

The program is built on the premise that the difference between good member service and exceptional member service is a sales approach based on getting to know members, understanding their situations, and linking them to products they need.

Training began in January 2010 and was completed by most employees by April. Momentum grew each month as the sales and service culture permeated the credit union.

Sales contests, marketing promotions, and fun activities branch managers used with employees helped sustain momentum.

Lending initiatives

A “loan initiative group” comprised of senior management and key lending staff worked to add appeal to products and services.

For example, a fixed-portion personal line of credit allows members to take out credit line advances and fix the interest rate for a set period of time, eliminating worries about rising rates.

Another focus was direct lending, Oregon Community’s most prolific lending channel. The credit union’s dealer sales representative delivered the message to dealers that Oregon Community combined outstanding service with money to lend.

Direct loans grew from $67 million during the first seven months of 2009 to $102 million during the same period in 2010.

In the branch, a “1-1-1” promotion allowed members to choose between lowering their interest rate by 1%, lowering their payment by $100, or getting back 1% on a newly booked loan.

A loan-phone branch was created to focus on incoming loan calls, generating $13 million during the first half of 2010, well over half of its $20 million annual goal.

Operations support

The new culture was supported by new capabilities gained from a 2009 conversion to a new core processing system, making it possible to mine data needed to track sales initiatives.

The enhanced tracking enabled Oregon Community to create employee incentives for increased production and tie branch manager compensation to sales goals.

Oregon Community also reinstated profit sharing based on net worth and earnings goals.

Even in the midst of a recession, Oregon Community has found that a sales culture makes an invaluable contribution to efforts to become members’ trusted financial adviser.

By asking members for what they need—and then giving it to them—Oregon Community is delivering both exceptional loan growth and exceptional service to members.

View the award winning entry here.