Now, more than any other time in history, establishing a relationship with a credit union can be a vital part of any small businesses' success both for their customers and employees. But let's face it; credit unions aren't always the first place that business owners think of to host their account services. In fact, many business programs at universities lecture the importance of providing a business plan to their bank to get their start-up funds. We should all take the time to revisit what benefits that our own credit unions can provide to small businesses so that we can in turn communicate that to our business partners.
As a small business owner, one advantage of partnering with a credit union that no other financial institution can offer is by way of the ongoing benefits it brings to those businesses' employees. Here at Neches Federal Credit Union, we really stress that we can provide credit union membership as part of their employee benefit package at no cost to the owner. As a partnering business with our credit union, business owners have access to information about credit union membership, products and services, and contact to a team of professionals that can provide expert financial planning. We have had tremendous growth over the last five years; nearly 300 business accounts, as we've orchestrated a complete business solutions team consisting of business development officer, business lending manager and a financial consultant.
Business owners are inspired to learn that our partnership can help to provide their employees with the financial knowledge that will make them happier and more productive workers. Our business partners have told us first hand that many of our business solutions such as on-site membership drives, informational brochures, payroll deduction and direct deposit have enhanced their image as an employer because credit unions are a not-for-profit alternative to traditional banking solutions.
A sometimes overlooked advantage of a credit union is the networking opportunities that the partnership provides. A goal of our credit union is to attend as many chamber of commerce ribbon cuttings and grand openings as possible. Attending a ribbon cutting allows a unique opportunity to hear first hand what a business owner's vision and business plan is and how our credit union could foster that relationship. Anyone who has orchestrated a ribbon cutting knows the degree of pressure that it entails in hoping that you bring a good turnout.
In much the same way you would throw a bridal or baby shower, a business owner never forgets the attendees that came to support his or her grand opening to the public. We've been to a number of business functions where the turnout was low and our three to five representatives were almost the only ones in attendance. As the business owner may show great sincere appreciation for our support, we gladly explain that this is the very type of dedication to our partners in the community that never waivers.
A credit union may retain those business relationships by offering continuing marketing support and out of the box opportunities that a more traditional financial provider would never think to bring to the table. Credit union endorsed-business spotlights on our Web site and newsletter carry huge weight for business owners. They are amazed at the amount of telephone calls that they receive simply by putting a display in a credit union lobby. Social and viral marketing efforts are a relatively new approach that credit unions can offer in the way of a short podcast or video spotlighting the businesses' services and relationship with the credit union. Sure a traditional bank can offer a business checking account, but will they bring 200 kids with their parents to their sporting and gaming establishment by hosting a special credit union "kid's day" event?
No matter what the needs of individual employers, credit unions can serve that niche better than any other financial providers. A business with a large Gen Y workforce may require the latest online services and other technology solutions while a largely blue collar workforce may require more face to face services and financial seminars.
This benefit is extremely relevant in our corner of the world here in southeast Texas, with the percentage of our members that are chemical employee workers (many of which have small businesses on the side). Our business development officer, Dawn Fournier, keeps constant contact with the HR professionals of the chemical plants. They truly believe in the credit union movement and allow our credit union to provide financial seminars that focus on retirement, insurance and the cost-saving benefits that credit unions provide.
Small businesses are certainly feeling a pinch from the current economic conditions. Credit unions
across the nation should use this as a rally cry to remind our local entrepreneurs that now more than ever, credit unions are a viable alternative to other financial providers.