2008 has been exciting year for Xceed Financial Credit Union. Headquartered in El Segundo, CA, with a large presence in Rochester, NY, they executed a massive rebranding effort in April 2008 when they changed their name from Xerox FCU. This transition is part of a larger growth initiative that includes plans to open 10 new branches, two headquarters buildings, develop new products and services, and continue emphasizing business development initiatives. According to Nicole Valentin-Smith, SVP of Retail Sales, “We wanted to return to our roots and focus on serving employer groups instead of courting the entire community, but we realized that we needed some fresh tactics in order to do so.”
In addition to bolstering member relationships and increasing reach among their existing SEGs, Xceed’s current business development strategy calls for them to leverage their new brand, and attract a variety of new employer groups. They are concentrating on potential SEGs that are located near existing and future branch locations. They don’t want to pigeonhole themselves by focusing on a particular industry, and are prospecting based on employer size, market area, and Xceed’s perceived ability to penetrate the employee base.
Gaining Employer Group Attention
As Xceed’s business development team searches for potential employer group prospects, they are also not afraid to ask for business. In addition to referral campaigns, Xceed representatives always ask new members if their employer has a credit union relationship. Once leads have been generated, the business development team launches their ‘Seek More’ campaign designed to attract new prospective employer groups.
Do the Unexpected & Create a Buzz
Xceed Financial wants to create a memorable experience for their employer groups and have implemented initiatives that are just unconventional enough to get noticed and are designed shake things up.
One approach that they have used to initiate new SEG relationships is to send personalized postcards to their employer group contact. The general message of these postcards is, “Give us 15 minutes of your time, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to receive a free office lunch on Xceed Financial.” The postcards, with their fun and engaging approach, have received a very positive response.
Another specific approach that certainly generates a buzz is Numbers Guy, Xceed’s financial superhero. His purpose is to shake things up, engage existing and potential members, and build excitement. Numbers Guy travels to events at existing SEGs, participates in new signups, and might even make an appearance during a prospective employer group visit.
The ‘Seek More’ campaign includes a wide variety of marketing tools that the business development team can use in different situations. One of the more unique items is the Xceed Financial flash drive, which is not only branded externally, but includes information about the credit union loaded onto the drive. Following a visit to a potential SEG, they send over a box of Xceed goodies, which includes a very unique carton of fortune cookies. Each fortune cookie contains a personalized message from the credit union about their service offerings and how Xceed can benefit the SEG and its employees. They also send out these items to existing employer groups with whom they are attempting to reinforce their relationship, and vary the fortune cookie messages accordingly.
Nurturing the Relationship
Xceed Financial focuses on ongoing relationship management, with the goal of personally contacting each of their employer groups on a quarterly basis. They try to arrange for in-person contact as much as possible. When an Xceed representative hears that all-too-familiar phrase of “I’m too busy to meet,” they already have a response: everyone has to eat. The offer of lunch doesn’t have to involve an expensive restaurant that eats up precious time and money. Xceed’s business development department has found that it is harder for an employer contact to refuse a much simpler proposal. They will ask if they can pick up a quick meal and drop by the workplace to chat over an office lunch. Simple tactics like these help keep the lines of communication open in an emerging business relationship.
Xceed’s business development team also partners with other credit union staff members to provide a greater depth of service to their SEGs. When a business development officer goes out to meet with an employer group, they consistently bring along another partner from the credit union. Xceed also makes an effort to emphasize their business services, so one of the first partners that they introduce the employer to is often a business banking officer.
Once Xceed understands what the specific needs of the employer group are, they can send over employees with relevant expertise. In the current troubled economic environment, employers have recently responded very well when business development officers have brought mortgage loan specialists and investment consultants with them. Such visits have resulted in several on-site opportunities for the credit union to help provide education to SEG employees. By introducing employers to other officers within the credit union, Xceed is effectively communicating the wide range of services and resources that they are able to provide to their partners.
Xceed’s business development team currently consists of three members, two located in New York, and one in California. However, due to their recent momentum, Nicole acknowledged that they will need to add more employees to the team. All of the SEG relationships are divided equally among the business development team, with their performance evaluated at quarterly intervals. Instead of simply looking at employer group penetration within each employer group, they examine how each officer has worked to grow the membership base, loan portfolio, and deposits at each institution.
Prior to their rebranding effort in April, Xceed served 105 employer groups. As of November 2008, this number has grown to 140 employer group relationships. The credit union is also experiencing healthy real estate loan growth and member growth. This is especially impressive considering that one of their two primary locations is Southern California, currently experiencing some of the worst affects of the economic fallout. Xceed’s business development efforts continue to pick up steam, and they are experiencing explosive momentum with their reinvigorated approach resonating with employer groups.