Get Down to Small Business

Local merchants need a financial institution, and credit unions must offer them a complete relationship.


The hardware store on Main Street and the credit union on Elm can form an excellent partnership. One business needs loans, a place to store and monitor its income, and a convenient channel to pay the bills. The other business offers liquidity, checking and online services, and mobile bill pay. Many credit unions succeed in generating member business loan demand, but some struggle to complete the relationship with its suite of other products. That can change though.

Cooperatives are diving head on into social media with excellent results. One avenue to create connections is Groupon. One business used the service to advertise consulting services at a reduced rate. Think about how that could apply to credit unions. You could make a similar pitch on Groupon by advertising an excellent rate on an MBL loan and a business checking account as an added bonus. Or you could simply promote a reduced rate via traditional channels and add other business services as perks of getting the loan. The goal is to flesh out the relationship, and any idea that does so is a plus.

You can also partner with area businesses. You can sponsor a local sports team or give back to local charities. Credit unions thrive on community involvement, and every partnership made has the chance to generate relationships. A fundraising event for a charity will attract business leaders. Why not sponsor the event and see if you can’t wrangle some business? At the very least, the exposure will be beneficial.

Helping startups get up and running is a good way to engender long-term support too. The Small Business Administration is capitalizing on that opportunity with a couple of loans aims to help businesspeople turn dreams into realities. Check out your community’s small business associations. Maybe they have meetings where hopefuls go to learn. Might not hurt to try and help them. They’ll always remember who did.

Bottom line: Businesses need help with loans, but they have other needs too. Along with watching for new small business opportunities, examine your current small business clients. Who has their checking accounts? Are their mobile needs being met? What advantages can you offer? Time to turn up the volume and get the relationships to their full potential.




May 30, 2011


  • Joe,

    Thanks for the feedback. I agree that sales and time are critical. I'll see what I can find as far as examples of how credit unions have succeeded with cross promotion.
    Thomas Cullen
  • Thomas,

    Look forward to reading your pieces, very thought provoking. I did think you were going to take a different approach here. The two things any small business needs is sales and time. Both of which the CU can help with. Think of an online directory of products or services that the CU can offer in conjunction with its small business members - cross promotion. Time is gained through the extensive small business products like bill pay and online banking the cu can offer. Community banks have a very poor rate of owner accounts at same institution as the business accounts. CU's can do better if they focus on cooperative spirit and promote cross promotion providing real value to their business members. So many ways to do that today with social media. Would like to see stories about real examples of how this has worked.
    Joe Fouse