SEGs: 'Not A Department, A Philosophy'

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The SEG recruitment process can be a boon for a credit union, but it is also subject to breaking down.

In remarks before The Journal's SEG & Business Development Conference, Neva Buckhanon, VP-arketing and development at USA FCU, helped attendees identify the key "breakdown areas," and offered suggestions on how to make repairs.

According to Buckhanon, there are five areas credit unions should beware of in the SEG recruitment process: A lack of CU marketing within the SEGs; one or two CU staff trying to manage groups; a lack of products and services SEGs need and want; no SEG management plan in place-and none planned; and only a few people in the CU's organization who know about SEGs.

"The problem with SEG management is, people sometimes don't know whose job it is. The answer is-it is everyone's job," she declared.

Buckhanon said there are several ways for credit unions to avoid a possible "meltdown."

First, CUs should work with the company's information technology department to design a SEG database. That data should then be used to establish a growth plan based on current statistics. Buckhanon recommended following up by reviewing database results with the company's managers on a monthly basis.

"Marketing is an essential part of SEG development," she said. "There are many ways to mend fences-get out and establish contact with your groups. Learn that SEG development is not a department, it is a philosophy."

Buckhanon stressed the need to design an annual business plan and action plan. She said CUs need to follow an organizational strategic growth plan, set clear-cut products per member expectations, implement the necessary infrastructure to bring results, and support branches, departments and affinity groups.

In addition to all of the above, she suggested CUs restructure their branch managers' job descriptions-the managers should not do SEG development, she said. "Find out where your SEGs are, go out and educate them," she said.

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