AUSTIN, Texas – Move over Kermit, Richy "Refi" Nance has helped United Heritage Credit Union leap over the competition in loans. One little green frog suited up in a baseball uniform was the mascot of the $280 million credit union's most successful loan promotion in 44 years. From May 1, 2001 to July 31, 2001, more than 535 auto, boat, RV and motorcycle loans were refinanced for a total of $11.3 million in new loan dollars, with an average yield of 7.52% APR. "The refinance offer was extremely popular for two reasons," said UHCU Vice President of Lending Mike Maldonado. "We offered the same low rate on new or used collateral and members were not required to make their first payment for 60 days, which means they had extra cash for summer vacations!" According to UHCU Marketing Vice President Susie Davison, Richy came from a brainstorming session with in-house Graphic Designer Pam Phillips. "It helps that we produce all our creative in-house so we can play around with an idea," said Davison. "This frog was just a fun character and we dressed him up in a baseball uniform to capitalize on our association with the Round Rock Express baseball club and everything fell into place." Richy could then be found on banners, posters, mail inserts, radio advertisements, newsletters, the credit union's Web site, and baseball shirts worn by the staff on Monday's, Wednesday's, and Friday's during his 90-day major league season. An internal referral contest between branch employees helped jumpstart the promotion with a little friendly competition. Here's how it worked, all employees, with the exception of senior management were eligible for incentive payments. Each participating employee was required to sell three approved and funded auto refinance loans to qualify for the $25.00 incentive payment for each subsequent loan, this means the incentive payment was paid commencing on the fourth refinanced unit. Automobiles currently financed with UHCU did not qualify. Three teams were created with additional prize money awarded to all three teams. First place team winners with the most dollar amount funded won 60% of the jackpot; second place winners 25%; and third place winners 15%. "The employees really went all out," said UHCU President/CEO Buddy Schroeder. "Employees who have never sold a thing, were calling friends, family members, and neighbors to ask them to refinance their auto loan with the credit union." According to Davison, the original promotion was set to only run 60-days but the response was so tremendous that it was extended another 30 days. The loan team can't rest yet though. United Heritage has already kicked off a holiday-themed refinancing promotion until December and this time first payments are not required for 90 days and there is an added incentive holiday cash rebate. [email protected]

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