Monday, June 14, 2010

Make Members Feel Like Owners: 10 Ways to Get Started

In a recent blog submission to the Credit Union Times, I discussed my thoughts on making ownership the credit union value proposition.

I related some personal experiences at credit unions I joined, recalling that none of them ever made me feel like an owner. Why owner? Well for me, being assigned member status is both overused and overdone in our culture. Everyone is offering membership of one kind or another; from hotels to grocery stores.

On the other hand, if the emphasis was placed on being an owner, a whole new sense of loyalty and allegiance would come into play.

I see ownership as a way to create a more profound and vibrant bond, albeit one that also requires me to relinquish a certain level of complacency, becoming more engaged in the enterprise. The dynamic ushers me to the front and center of the organization, creating for me a vested interest in seeing the organization succeed and prosper.

You can read the entire blog submission at Credit Union Exchange

In the meantime, since I’ve proposed discarding the term “member” in favor of “owner,” I’ve put together a list of 10 ways to help you get started in making your credit union users feel like owners. E-mail me for a PDF copy.

10 Ways to Get Started

I. Key to the Credit Union
At sign up, give the new owner the Key to the Credit Union. Like the Key to the City, the Key to the Credit Union is a symbol and gesture, representing a special bond of affinity between the recipient and the credit union.

II. Honorary Welcome By the CEO
Upon joining, extend the new member a personalized welcome by the CEO or another Chief Executive. As an example, at the start of orientation at The Ritz-Carlton, the entire leadership team of the hotel, the General Manager to Head Chef, personally greets all the new employees. They made the time to do it because they viewed the new employees as important, and what an impression it made!

III. Owners’ Meetings
Hold monthly meetings for the owners (not to be confused with Board Meetings) focusing on informational and educational topics pertinent to the owners, and use multiple channels to attract participation; in-person venue, podcast, webcast, video recordings, etc. In addition to hearing from the CEO and CFO, other presenters may include a board member, city council rep, police chief, local doctor, state senator, etc.

IV. Monthly President’s Summary
Include a summary of the month’s operations with the owner’s monthly statement

V. Referral Dividends
Provide some type of dividend to an owner when he or she gets a new owner to join the credit union. The dividend may take the form of money, a service, or a donation to their favorite charity.

VI. Recognize Owner Birthdays
Acknowledge an owner’s birthday by sending a card, or giving him or her two movie tickets or a discount coupon for groceries at a local food co-op, or a dinner at a local restaurant.

VII. Owner’s Lounge
Within each branch, create an owner’s lounge, a workplace away from home for the owners. This would be akin to Delta Airline’s Crown Room.

VIII. Concierge Service
Provide owners with a concierge service to handle routine services such as making dinner reservations, ordering flowers, etc.

IX. Owner’s Hotel Discount
By working together with other credit unions and co-ops (cooperation with other co-ops), establish an “owner’s rate” with a hotel chain. The rate is low and consistent at all of the hotel’s locations.

X. Ownership Card
In cooperation with other credit unions and co-ops, as cited in number IX, present the new owner with an Ownership ID Card. Upon presentation at other co-ops, the owners receive a discount for their role as owners of a credit union.

By Walt Laskos, CUDE
June 2010

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