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By any standards, this is perhaps the toughest time ever to run a credit union. Tight net interest margins, rising labor costs, ever-increasing competition, and flat membership growth all combine to create an extremely challenging environment in which to operate. It’s precisely this kind of environment that proves the wisdom of the old adage: Work smarter, not harder.

Increasingly, the concept of working smarter means creating operating efficiencies that enable you to drive down the cost of doing business, whether it’s the cost of labor, facilities, materials or other expenses. But that can be tricky. Take labor as an example: If you focus on service as your differentiating model, then you can’t sacrifice the quality of your workforce simply to reduce your salary budget. The cost of facilities is another case in point: If you run a community-based credit union, you’ve probably found that in order to attract members from new areas, you need to invest in a brick and mortar presence there regardless of how many remote delivery channels you offer.

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