Small CUs Banding Together To Get More Mileage Out Of Auto Sale

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OLD FORGE, Penn.-A year ago Incol CU would never have considered taking out a full-page newspaper ad and partnering with a local car dealership on an auto loan promo.

Today, however, that is commonplace with Incol and 18 other Erie-area CUs that are members of the Wyoming Valley/Scranton Chapter Small Credit Union Group, which is collaborating on ways to drive revenue and efficiencies. "Spending $500 for a full-page ad, none of us could afford that," said Deborah Peters, CEO of the $19-million Incol. "But $50 from 10 of us, and getting a dealer to work a large group of credit unions and provide special discounts, is very doable."

Dealers are wiling to listen to the CUs since as a group the represent over 60,000 members. The dealer receives free publicity when the credit unions pay for the ad, which runs once a week for a month, and for its part offers reduced rates only for members of the participating CUs. Peters said 10 credit unions generally partner on an event. The ad promotes a "credit union car sale," and then plugs each participating CU with their contact information. The car dealer knows the fields of membership of each credit union, and directs consumers to the appropriate CU.

Peters said the car sales have not generated a great deal of loans as yet, attributing that to the economy. But they have been very good at getting the small credit unions noticed within the business community and by consumers. "Whenever we do a car sale we end up getting lots of calls for other services," Peters said. "A lot of people didn't even know we are in business."

The asset sizes of the CU group range from $1 million to $25 million, and the financials partner on many other marketing and efficiency efforts. "It is allowing us to play much bigger and compete," Peters said.

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