Recent studies by the Callahan's Survey Consortium highlight credit union members' growing dependence on online resources:
- More than half of credit union members plan to submit their next mortgage application online.
- 90 percent of members consider their credit union Web site important in managing their personal finances.
- Most members used their credit union Web site or other Web sites to research their latest car purchase and loan.
Given these trends and others, credit unions across the country are creating or revisiting their online strategy. Anheuser-Busch Employees' Credit Union (ABECU) recently examined opportunities to further its Web site features, focusing specifically on better educating and empowering members regarding vehicle purchases to help boost automobile loans. The anchor of the credit union's strategy is a partnership with Enterprise Car Sales, a division of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, to create a co-branded, automobile shopping site directly linked from the credit union's home page.
The ABECU - Enterprise co-branded site has a look, feel and functionality that is competitive with national online car buying sites, including a wide ranging inventory of more than 120 different makes and models - thousands and thousands of quality late model certified used vehicles. Members can visit the credit union's home page (www.abecu.org) and click on the Enterprise Car Sales logo to enter the customized site, which provides access to Enterprise's national inventory. Members simply enter their ZIP code to find a quality used car in their area.
The ABECU site features elements to help members choose a vehicle matching their specific needs. Members can view vehicles by year, make, model, price, mileage, color and location. Additionally, members can access a detailed review of the vehicle, including photos, features, interior and exterior colors, stock numbers, and VIN numbers. Best of all, members can express interest in a car online via the co-branded site or phone request. Either method ensures immediate contact by an Enterprise account executive.
After identifying a vehicle, ABECU members can use the same site to calculate loan payments and apply for credit union financing. An additional perk for the credit union is that all car inquiries reach not only an Enterprise account executive but also the credit union. This ''dual notification'' allows the credit union to prepare for each member who is ready to begin the auto loan process.
''As more people access the Internet to research auto loans and purchases, creating an online component for credit unions has become a high priority,'' Enterprise Car Sales Assistant Vice President Mary Mahoney said. ''More and more credit unions want a Web strategy that enables them to be the one-stop shop for members to research and fund certified used car purchases. These co branded Web sites are more than just a value-add; they are becoming an integral part in credit unions' overall strategy to boost used car loan portfolios.''
It's important that the functionality of the Web site emulate the member service - the ease and comfort - that members experience when they visit the credit union in person, Mahoney said.
''A key differentiator of the credit union community is consistency of quality member service, whether it's online or offline,'' Mahoney said. ''Seamlessly transferring great member service from the lobby to the Web site must be included in the site's design and execution.''
''ABECU values its partnership with Enterprise Car Sales, in part, because of its reputation for consistent member service and reliability for providing a respectful car buying experience,'' said Paula Anderson, Manager of Marketing & Communications for Anheuser-Busch Employees' Credit Union.
All Enterprise vehicles are priced below NADA or Kelley Blue Book values and credit union members do not have to worry about the dealership price debate because Enterprise has a no-haggle, one-price system. Also, each vehicle has passed a rigorous 109-point inspection performed by a certified ASE technician and comes with a 12,000-mile/12-month limited power train warranty and one-year roadside assistance.
''Online technology is a big part of our future because our members are becoming more technologically savvy. We've found that as familiarity and confidence in the Internet increases, our members' expectations grow.'' said Anderson of the ABECU. ''The co-branded Web site with Enterprise offers our members an easy way to find a certified used vehicle and, most importantly, guarantees that we will handle the auto loan.''
For more information about Enterprise Car Sales and credit union partnerships, contact Enterprise Car Sales at firstname.lastname@example.org.