By Robert O’Hara, VP Strategic Alliances, GrooveCar Inc.

I saw a great meme on social media recently, “If you’re not a member of a credit union…why not?” The woman had a confused look on her face implying the recipient of the message was not with the times. I am going to flip that around and pose the question, “If you’re not up on the latest innovations at your credit union…why not?”

Credit union member growth and auto loan balances will remain strong growth areas, according to CUNA estimates for 2017. This is remarkable, yet not surprising given how hard credit unions work to get, and keep members and build portfolios. To hold onto these margins, credit unions must embrace innovation or risk handing loans over to competitors. Recent industry reports by chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association states new vehicle sales will stay above 17 million for the third year in a row, with auto purchases and leasing momentum remaining strong. This is great news for credit unions who are now very competitive with banks and captives in the auto loan category. We need to swing open the doors to the credit union and look inside to make sure your as innovativewith member programs as possible. Let’s up that wow factor!

Online baking was first introduced in the 1980s, part of the innovation revolution at the time. Then came mobile banking, which has been around since 1999, becoming a standard service offering in 2010. Members are on the move and performing every task on their mobile devices, credit unions need to embrace where members are going with their financial needs. When you make it easy for members to engage with you on their terms, you create value and are a trusted resource.

Nearly 97% of members will begin their vehicle shopping experience online. They will spend 4 months researching and building cars during this time before deciding on what they should purchase. Their final purchase will be based on their financial picture that was created on your auto resource. This is all done before heading to the showroom. Providing the member with a platform that paints a full picture of what they can afford is done with such features as: a payment calculator, trade-in calculator, inventory search from the most recent data available from local inventory and other built-in search tools to provide guidance, such as what others in the area are paying for similar vehicles. This is not only innovative, it’s serious WOW factor.

Giving members a reason to do business with your credit union goes beyond rate. Education and relationship building, along with a resource that provide solid information they need, is powerful. Credit unions need to be everything to members, the days of being good at some things, is not good enough. Members want to keep their business in one place. Be that place they go to over-and-over again.

Let’s get serious about innovation

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