Third Federal Savings of Cleveland is going after southern Ohio's biggest lenders by wooing mortgage customers with hot coffee and quick decisions.
Third Federal, the nation's largest mutual thrift, with $5.8 billion of assets, launched an advertising campaign Thursday that guarantees mortgage decisions in 10 minutes-the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee.
The "one-cup commitment" campaign gives each Third Federal customer a coffee mug and an envelope of instant coffee. While borrowers sip, the thrift runs a credit check and calculates an interest rate.
The campaign, publicized on billboards, in print ads, and on home- delivery newspaper sleeves, is part of Third Federal's push into the Columbus and Cincinnati metropolitan areas.
Since entering the markets last month, Third Federal has picked up twice as many customers as projected, according to Monica Martines, a vice president. She refused to reveal the goal but said refinancings were roughly 70% of the new business.
Fred A. Cummings, a bank analyst with McDonald Investments in Cleveland, said he expects Third Federal to steal customers from southern Ohio's leaders - Fifth Third Bancorp of Cincinnati, Milwaukee-based Firstar Corp., and Bank One of Chicago.
"Third Federal is very aggressive on price," Mr. Cummings said. "They will be a force to be reckoned with."
But another analyst said Third Federal's efforts may be hampered by its limited product line.
If the thrift made commercial loans or offered trust services-banks' most profitable businesses-it could pose more of a threat to the larger players, said Timothy Willi, a bank analyst at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. of St. Louis.
"Third Federal is pretty much a one-product shop," he said.