Houston CU Makes Commitment To Capture Biz From 'Indirect' Members

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First Community Credit Union is using a "two-angled" approach-direct phone calls and direct mail-to capture more business from its indirect lenders.

The $482-million credit union recently recently partnered with AltaFi (formerly Liberty Marketing) to conduct matrix mailings that offer financial incentives for checking account business.

"Indirect lending is a hard nut to crack," said Diana Fisher, VP marketing at FCU. "But we are committed to going after them. We think they are viable members with good credit. We just have to make them familiar with us."

The marketing campaign launched two months ago includes a series of five mailers targeting existing members who don't use a lot of credit union services, and members who joined via an indirect auto loan who may not even be aware that they belong to a credit union.

"The tone, voice and incentives are different for each group," Fisher said. "The 'real' members know us. The indirect members don't."

For example, Fisher said, "We offer our indirect lending audience a $75 MasterCard/Gift Card to open a checking account, $100 if they sign up for direct deposit." A similar letter will go to existing members offering $50 and $75, respectively, she said.

The mail campaign has only lured existing members to open checking accounts, so far, but is expected to complement an already successful method-direct phone calling-of capturing this difficult audience, Fisher said.

"We have an employee in indirect lending who personally calls every member that gets an indirect loan with us," Fisher said. "She is a very skilled cross seller."

In fact, she said, all of the front line staff is "heavily" trained in cross-selling as part of the CU's strong sales and service culture.

Once she makes a phone connection with the new member, she welcomes them to the CU and asks if they've received their loan paperwork and coupon book. Those who are receptive to her questions about loans with other financial institutions will have an opportunity to compare rates and refinance with FCU.

"She has had what we think are pretty good results," Fisher said.

She added that the CU's board of directors is committed to working hard to capture this "untapped market," and is exploring ways to expand its in-house efforts.

"We keep finding that once members come through here (by way of a vehicle loan), they will either pay the loan off and never come back or come back for a second loan," she said. "By initiating a relationship, we think we can...get their business."

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