September 23, 2021

How CUs Are Adapting to New Business Development in the Age of COVID

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Business development is never easy, and when the pandemic hit, it became even more challenging. But credit unions have adapted by spotting new consumer trends and finding some creative ways to keep their business development pipelines open. What’s more, because members are flocking to digital banking, credit unions are leveraging technology solutions to grow business development opportunities.

Ted Brown, co-founder of Digital Onboarding Inc. in Boston, said credit unions are essentially sitting on a business development gold mine among their current members but are not necessarily equipped in the digital age to tap into it. He noted when the branch lobbies were closed during the onset of the pandemic, everyone was moving to digital banking, and now that trend seems to be in hyper drive.

“We provide that platform to digitally engage members, providing good recommendations to those members about products and services that the credit union offers, but they may not have been aware of before,” Brown said.

While many credit unions, like the $367 million Evergreen Credit Union in Portland, Maine, are making huge technology investments to enhance their digital banking offerings, they have also been creative in maintaining the personal touch for their business development initiatives.

Evergreen operates a direct-lending program with about 100 car dealerships. Staying in touch with them is important so that the credit union will stay “top of mind” among car dealers when they work out finance options for their customers.

“We creatively thought of ways that we could engage with our dealerships during COVID,” Brenda Pollock, Evergreen’s membership development officer, said. “Before COVID, we used to take them to a lot of local hockey games, and we also had a lot of events that we sponsored and hosted with them, which really helped solidify our business model.”

To respect everybody’s different opinions on safety during the pandemic, Evergreen contacted local restaurants to order carryout meals that credit union staff, wearing masks, delivered to the car dealerships.

“That was pretty impactful and that’s why we were able to see our numbers increase,” she said.

Among RV dealerships, business is booming.

The $464 million JAX Federal Credit Union in Jacksonville, Fla., spotted that consumer trend and launched a clever marketing campaign in June named “Quarantine on Wheels” for RV loans.

The whole “quarantine on wheels” concept was designed to encourage people to take a safe vacation in an RV.

“People were turning to RVs to save their summer travel plans from the coronavirus,” Angela Coleman, chief marketing officer for JAX, said. “We really thought this would resonate with our members.”

More details about how credit unions are keeping their new business development pipelines flowing will be featured in the Sept. 23 edition of CU Times.

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