Listen to what vendors have to say, as they could help you avoid hitting a major barrier.
Sponsored by SWBC
It’s a fact that change comes easier to certain people compared to others. While some embrace change as a chance for a new beginning, others look at it as a departure from the norm, extra work and an opportunity for failure. Some want to forge ahead, and others want the status quo to remain.
Consider retiring CEOs and department heads as examples; like second-term presidents, they can be reluctant to change. However, incoming CEOs and new department heads more often see the stagnation with "fresh eyes" and breathe new life into an organization. Still, fearful managers don’t take chances and are replaced in short order. Others invest the time to know the options, make educated recommendations and move ahead successfully.
A few years ago at a CUES event in Iowa, I presented attendees with a small, inexpensive marketing piece. On the front of the piece in red letters it shouted, “WATCH OUT FOR THE MOOSE!” To go along with this gift, I told the audience a brief story about a credit union executive who was driving down a forested road late in the evening. His seatback was adjusted just right, the temperature inside the car was perfect and he had a relaxing radio station playing.
He kept thinking what a nice ride it was as he meandered up and down hills while his headlights bounced off the trees. Then, suddenly he heard a voice at the side of the road shouting at him, “WATCH OUT FOR THE MOOSE!”
His response, surprisingly, was, “It’s okay; everything is under control. If I need anything, I will reach out to you.”
That response sounds familiar, wouldn't you say? Unless there is an existing relationship already in place, an executive may have no idea what upgrades/information/challenges are around the corner, and he is—essentially—riding blind. Likewise, responding to a vendor making an effort to call on your organization by saying there is no time available to meet places you in the same "riding blind" metaphorical situation, perhaps cheating yourself out of knowing what may lie ahead.
Inside the small marketing piece was a picture of a moose standing on a highway. On its body were the words, “Outdated services, older generation products, high prices and poor service.”
What I was asking the crowd was, “Are you open to change?”
Credit unions have a variety of vendors calling on them—constantly. No one can expect them to have time to meet with every vendor to hear every sales pitch. However, in any area (collections, lending, risk management, etc.), a few major vendors provide most products and services. Having a relationship with only one major vendor is like the credit union executive ignoring the warning of a moose on the road. The products and services being used could become stale, inefficient and expensive.
Your major vendors may be similar in many ways, but they also purposefully differentiate themselves. Understanding, knowing and using these differences are ways to improve your performance, streamline your operations, add value to your customer and create additional positive financial impact for your credit union.
My Advice: WATCH OUT FOR THE MOOSE!
Make a list of your major vendors and ask yourself this question: Do you have a relationship with each vendor’s salesperson to ensure you are aware of and up to date on what they have to offer? Make a call to those that you do not know and invite them in for a meeting. Your credit union will benefit from your efforts! Be open to change!
David Karl is account VP/financial institutions at CUES Supplier member SWBC, San Antonio, Texas. Have you evaluated your credit union’s collections operation lately? Take our self-assessment, A Guide to Auditing Your In-House Collections.