What Research Shows Biz Account Members Desire

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Most credit unions already have small business members- individuals who use personal accounts for business-and the growing trend is to offer specific business services. In fact, since small business owners prefer to maintain personal and business accounts at the same institution, credit unions that fail to offer business services risk losing these profitable account-holders to other financial institutions when company growth necessitates the establishment of a full-service business account.

Small business membership is the next logical step in credit union growth and expansion of service offerings. However, don't launch a campaign to attract new businesses without first understanding the needs of current business members and identifying the most profitable targets for growth. Focus groups and surveys have revealed significant differences among business segments based on industry, cash needs and sophistication of business owners.

* What most busy owners of small companies have in common, however, is that they want:

* Convenience and speed; e.g., branch proximity, drive-through windows.

A relationship with a partner who helps them succeed. Joining local Chambers of Commerce and serving on nonprofit boards goes a long way to establish the credit union within the business community.

* A team approach. Working with small businesses requires significant training of front-office staff, seamless internal communications and efficient contact /relationship management software. That way, any team member can assist a business member at any time.

* Member surveys, coded and tracked, can show the percentage and types of members interested in business services. Non-member phone surveys and focus groups can increase awareness of credit union eligibility, identify business needs and often turn the companies surveyed into strong leads.

* Don't try to be everything to every business. Do the research to identify a target market, go after it and then build on it.

Neil Goldman is President of Member Research. He can be reached at (310) 643-5910 or by email at ngoldman memberresearch.com

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