What Members Don't Know Can't Help Them

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DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla.-Sandi Torres has a simple bottom line strategy: if a member doesn't know a credit union offers a product, they're not going to purchase that product.

Torres, VP of Sales & Marketing for IWS (International Warranty Services, Inc.) pointed out that if credit unions "don't effectively promote and offer the product to the member, then [the product] is useless in the sense that many times the member doesn't know the product is there, so they can't wind up purchasing it from the credit union."

That, in turn, can lead to members purchasing the very same products and services from competing providers, generating no income for the credit union.

"To make it really simple and not add any incremental cost to their products, [CUs need] accountability on the part of management and the loan staff to offer and actually close on products," said Torres, who spent 11 years with Tropical FCU before joining IWS. "They're going to automatically see an increase in their income because members will naturally want to buy products from the credit union ... because there's more of a trust factor there. When that loan person doesn't offer that product to the member, it's a disservice, because you're not telling your members 'We have this product and you can buy it from me at a better price'" than from outside vendors.

But accountability is key, and everyone needs to be able to engage members about different products, from front-line tellers to back-office staff. Additionally, she said, in-house promotion of CU products can be included in employee training, and vendors-such as IWS-can help CUs find ways to effectively promote such offerings to members.

"Everyone has to be a resource; everyone has to be accountable," stressed Torres, pointing out that product promotion can-and should-be included in staff evaluations. "It's very important that there be some kind of accountability, and it has to start with management."

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