How One Credit Union Has Achieved High Penetration Of Its Employee Groups

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Increasing SEG penetration is all about developing relationships-first with the company, then with your contact at the company, and, eventually, with the employees who become your members.

That was the message from Connie Capuano, vice president of business development and marketing for BMI FCU, Columbus, Ohio, which has achieved a 42% penetration rate in its SEGs.

As credit unions have learned, the gatekeeper at many companies is the HR director. That person's openness to the credit union can dictate everything. Capuano said an HR director wants three things from a relationship with a credit union: no additional work for him or her; for the CU to make him or her look good in front of his or her boss and staff, and for the credit union to make him or her feel important.

The most important thing a CU can do to satisfy the first requirement is to develop a one-piece, self-directed credit union guide for the HR director to hand out to employees. This guide should give an overview of products and services, with information on locations, hours, phone numbers and a web address, Capuano advised.

In addition, the guide should contain membership and loan applications, a return postage-paid envelope, new member coupons and the business card of the contact at the credit union if the new member has any questions.

"In return, all the credit union asks is for an endorsement of the credit union from the HR director to the new staff member," Capuano said.

When a credit union sets up an orientation at a new company, Capuano said the HR director should be assured that all that is needed is a room to talk to employees, direct deposit forms, and advance access to mailboxes to put notices and coupons announcing the visit. The coupons should be for a small door prize for the new member's next branch visit, she added.

Making The HR Director Look Good

Capuano listed several things a credit union can do to make the HR director look good in front of his or her boss and staff. If they play golf, offer to take the HR director and his or her boss for a round at a local course. In addition, the CU should take the CU ambassador and his or her boss out to lunch.

"The credit union can offer free 'brown bag' luncheon seminars for the company's employees," suggested Capuano. "Subjects could include budgeting, how to buy a house, or similar topics."

When the CU visits a company, try to have a giveaway or drawing. Another goodwill gesture is to sponsor a prize at the company's annual picnic or holiday party. "Pay attention to the dress at the SEG and be appropriate," she said. "Don't show up at a warehouse in a suit, and don't show up in jeans and t-shirts at a law firm."

Capuano said there are many things a credit union can do to make the HR director feel like he or she is important. The credit union can offer this person the same discounted loan rates the CU's employees receive. Also, be sure to call him or her when you see something positive about the company in the media.

On a more personal level, the CU liaison should get to know the HR director. Ask about his or her family and keep a notebook with important dates. That way, the liaison can send birthday and holiday cards and acknowledge life events such as the birth of children and-or grandchildren.

"If you work with people through tough times such as layoffs and closures, they will remember," Capuano said. "The important thing is to develop relationships with the company and your contact at the company."

Keep track of what is working, and what is not, she advised. "It is bad enough to do something wrong, but worse to go out two months later and do it again."

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