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DOWNEY, Calif. – Downey Federal Credit Union recently tapped into the power of Web site exposure when it advertised a repossessed vehicle for sale directly to members. The 2002 Chevrolet Malibu was featured on DFCU’s Web site for about a month, until the vehicle was listed with a consignment service. The car had its own page on the Web site, and was also promoted with a front-page banner ad. According to Executive Vice President Orlandus Waters, the credit union first advertised the vehicle at its branch, placing it near the entrance with signage describing the vehicle and letting members know they could place bids on it. “That generated some buzz, and we got a few bids, but they fell short of what we needed to liquidate the asset,” Waters said. “So, we came up with the idea that we should put it on our Web site. The whole idea was that we don’t want to keep a large inventory of vehicles at our location because parking in downtown Downey is tough, and we felt that an online presence would be a way to expand our local reach,” he said. Why not just auction the vehicle? “Auctions are very dicey,” Waters explained, “Because some days you can do very well, but other days you can do very poorly, so you never know what you’re going to get.” Besides recouping the cost of the repossession, Waters said the online offering is a way to expand perceptions about the credit union among its 15,000 members. “Members always inquire, `do you have cars for sale?’ and unless you do frequent lot sales with volume dealers, members aren’t necessarily looking to the credit union for direct purchasing,” he explained. Waters said that even though the vehicle had to eventually be listed with a consignment service, he would recommend the strategy to other credit unions. “The Web gives you more flexibility, because you can display photos, all the information about the vehicle, and members can check it out anytime and submit bids at their convenience. It presents a call to action on member’s part, and results in immediate gratification,” he said. Downey FCU will likely continue the program as vehicles are repossessed, Waters said. “We’ll probably refine the program as we go along. I think to be effective, the key is you have to drive it through all your communication channels. You can advertise it at your ATM in both Spanish and English, use voice system promos, and if you get the channel parity and consistency going, the number of hits will increase, and along with it, the number of opportunities to sell,” he said. -

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