It was my first week at TruStone Financial Federal Credit Union. I was the new person; getting lost on my way to a meeting, trying to figure out how to work the coffee pot, wondering what employees to sit by at the lunch table.
The CEO walks into my office and says, “I have an idea.” Now, this isn’t my first rodeo in ‘credit union land’. I know credit union marketing well enough to know the following statement could be either pure genius or … well … I’d know exactly what I was up against at TruStone.
“I’d like to invite members in to tour the building,” he said. “I’d like it to be an all-day workshop where they spend a day here, learning about what we do behind the scenes.”
As I processed this thought of his, it hit me: I’m going to have a blast working here. “I love it,” I said. And after I assured him I wasn’t just agreeing with him because he’s the CEO and I’m new here, we both concluded the possibilities were endless for an event like this.
Everything took off from there. We asked members to RSVP for the all-day workshop. We weren’t sure what to expect—do our members even care what we do every day? – but our thoughts were solidified when we had our maximum number of respondents one week after sending out the invitations.
The day was finally here. The employees cleared off their desk, spiffed up a bit, and put on their smiling faces. Everyone was excited. But I admit I was a little apprehensive. What if no one shows? What if they are bored? What if they ask questions we can’t answer? What if we accidentally leave out information and someone takes it?
My apprehensions were cleared up when the members started filing through the door. It felt a little like “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” TruStone doors are opening up for the first time and five lucky winners (or in our case nine lucky members) get the opportunity to see what happens behind the scenes.
During the first workshop of its kind, members were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of their credit union – and their money – hard at work. They arrived at 9 a.m. for a tour of the corporate office followed by a day filled with visiting each department. They learned a little about all the departments from Loss Mitigation to Legal, Marketing to Member Service, Finance to Facilities, Information Technology to Electronic Payments and Operations.
It was truly a humbling experience. Those of us that work at credit unions – or any financial institution – sometimes forget that our members don’t know what Reg E is, or what a CUSO means. And they definitely don’t know what community charters, SEGs and foundations have to do with each other.
After the department meetings the group had lunch with the CEO, COO, CFO, chairman of the board and a few other board members followed by a question-and-answer session with senior management. It was their opportunity to ask questions, learn about the leadership at TruStone, and hear future plans.
It was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved. When the members were leaving for the day, they thanked us for the experience, but truly, we were thanking them. The day was filled with insight and understanding of what some of the members wanted and needed from their financial institution. It was our own little focus group!
I encourage all financial institutions to seriously consider opening their doors to their members. It’s was such as rewarding experience for all involved. Tim Bosiacki, the CEO behind this whole idea, sums it up best, “It’s their institution that they built from the ground up and we wouldn’t be here without them. They deserve to see what we are doing with their investment.”
Katie Grindeland is marketing manager at the $675 million, 57,000-member TruStone Financial Credit Union in Plymouth, Minn.