Top 15 Post: Kevin Zipps

Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. – Mattie Stepanek

I spent the first 10-plus years of my credit union career working on the frontlines in retail, so when I became the Consumer Loan Manager in September 2010, I knew what I had to do to grow the loan portfolio – make the retail department my biggest ally!

The first step was to increase the consumer loan department hours. I was no stranger to working nights and weekends – anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that – and I realized that if I wanted buy-in from retail it meant having my department staffed during the hours they would need us. That’s just common sense. So, the consumer loan department is now staffed every minute the branches are open, including until 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

Would simply being in the office be enough to completely improve consumer loan’s communication with retail? Of course not! My team and I had to do more than talk a good game – we had to put our plays into action. Thus, we set up an email address that gets sent to all the underwriters, saving the retail team time and giving them faster answers. We also convened meetings with consumer lending and retail where everyone can address issues and share any successes they’ve experienced, such as effective cross-selling techniques.

Training has played a vital role in our enhanced collaboration. Consumer lending has created several different sessions designed to help support the retail team. The first session we held was called “A Day in the Life of a Loan Officer,” during which retail team members sat with underwriters while they reviewed loans. The underwriters discussed the information they were studying on each application, and then explained the reasons for acceptance or rejection. This benefited the underwriters because they were able to show the MSR’s, who take the applications, the information that is essential in helping them make an informed decision. The second training session taught our retail teammates how to read and analyze credit reports. This was helpful in two ways – it gave the retail staff another way to educate our members, and it enabled the retail team to see where a member can save money by refinancing their existing loans with us. It was a win-win!

To keep the retail team engaged and excited about our collaborative project, we have held several “challenges” which yielded tremendous results! Some challenges include individual branches competing against one another to win prizes such as free lunch or breakfast, branches being teamed together to compete against other branches, and awards being given to individuals for exceeding targets. Our most recent challenge resulted in the exciting summer sounds of an ice-cream truck pulling into the winning team’s branches with free treats. Talk about the sweet taste of victory! And, the team member who received the highest number of multiple applications per member was awarded a $250 gift card!

To win the ice-cream truck visit, the winning branches had to fund a higher dollar amount of loans than their competitors. For VISA challenges, the winning branch entered a higher percentage of applications than the prior year.

We are more than enthusiastic about this ongoing project – we are ecstatic! The numbers have been truly remarkable. In 2013, the applications received have increased by 39% compared to 2012, and by 67% compared to 2011. Since September 2010, our consumer loan portfolio has increased by an astounding 21%, and is continuing to rise!

These incredible numbers don’t mean we’re going to sit back and rest on our laurels. We’re already hard at work converting to a new loan origination system, which will go live in October. We can’t wait! Innovation and collaboration have allowed for unprecedented growth in consumer loan applications and acceptances, and we are confident that with ongoing creativity and great teamwork our numbers will continue to skyrocket!