With Eye On Bottom Line, Investments Made To Increase Sales

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"What gets measured gets done.'' At least that's what Adrian "Casey" Duplantier is counting on in 2002. Duplantier, CEO of 1st Advantage Credit Union here, said his financial institution recently invested in the Transcend System software that includes sales-tracking, CRM and MCIF capabilities.

And that's only the start of it.

Duplantier said a sales manager has been added to the staff to help with the reorganization of branch managers' responsibilities to include more focus on developing stronger financial relationships with members.

In addition, 1st Advantage FCU has established a loan goal and is offering incentives to make sure it succeeds.

The changes come in response to strategic planning of two years ago when several committees identified the the ability of credit union staff to sell as one of its weaknesses.

"Basically, they said we weren't good at it,'' he said, noting that of 21 initiatives devised, "10 of them were related to helping us get better at selling products and services.''

With help from several outside consultants, he's confident that the $300-million credit union with 55,000 members will only get better at serving its members' financial needs.

Restructuring Duties

Among the biggest changes, Duplantier said, is the restructuring of branch managers' duties. Some will focus totally on operational matters while others will become "relationship managers."

"Traditional branch managers have all these operational responsibilities and are not purely relationship managers,'' Duplantier said, explaining that with the new set up, the more profitable members will get more personal service.

"They (the members) will get a letter from the credit union that says 'Suzy Q is now your relationship manager. If you need any help with products and services, she will be happy to help you,' " he said.

And, with the new software, Duplantier said, all sales and referrals will easily be entered into the system for tracking.

"We've looked at developing a moniker to improving the members' financial lives,'' he said. "This is what we've come up with.''

However, knowing that it takes happy employees to make a credit union successful, the board has also revamped its compensation package.

"We actually hired a consultant to do a market survey for each position locally,'' he said. "Then we established a midpoint in salary ranges to work from.''

Opportunities For More Money

Those employees who are below that range will receive raises over the next several years to bring them up to competitive levels, he said.

In the meantime, staff can earn extra money in 2002 by doing their part to sell $120 million in loans by Halloween.

"We picked that date because we want to see that everybody has extra bucks around the holidays,'' Duplantier said, explaining that individual and departmental contests and branch goals are in the planning stages now.

With loan volume stable-"It's about the same as it was last year"-and special rates, Duplantier expects that some employees will have no trouble making as much as $750 each.

"Our (loan ratio) is down, but only because deposits are way up,'' he said. "We have maintained the same volume through mortgages and with a special mortgage product-five-year-end fixed and 10-year amortizing loans-we've picked up a lot of mature loans.''

While he is excited about the changes, Duplantier did say he expects the challenges will be in the learning process, namely, with employees getting used to the new tracking system.

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