Other Ways RBFCU Has Created Efficiencies

LIVE OAK, Texas-Randolph-Brooks FCU has numerous cost-reduction efforts underway. Here are a few that have significantly contributed to the millions the CU has shaved off its operating costs.

Loan videoconferencing: Instead of having loan officers at its branches, RBFCU points a camera at loan staff sitting at its headquarters.

The move has eliminated a great deal of downtime for loan officers, whom CEO Randy Smith said sometimes sit idle waiting for business to come through the door. Currently in 15 of the credit union's 32 branches, the videoconferencing system will soon be rolled out to the CU's entire branch network.

How it works: A room is set up at the branch with a videoconferencing system that allows a member to speak directly with a loan officer, who appears on a TV monitor. The loan officer also sees the member, who is on camera, as well.

RBFCU now has eight consumer loan officers, six mortgage loan officers, and five business loan officers. "In the past each branch had at least one full-time loan officer for consumer lending. So we would have at least 32 in the branch network today had we not centralized and streamlined consumer lending," Smith explained. "Our mortgage lending office is considered the most productive office in our market, compared with other mortgage origination firms."

Smith said members balked at the idea of doing loans by phone in a branch because that was impersonal. "But members like this technique and it is producing good quality loans," he said.

RBFCU paid $375,000 for the videoconferencing equipment and expects to save $300,000 annually from the program.

Standard cubicle system: There was a time when RBFCU had at least four different cubicle systems within its branches. That led to a lot of extra parts sitting around, underutilized discounts on large cubicle purchases, and problems when two cubicle systems were used in the same office space.

"So we went with the Southwest Airlines approach," said CEO Smith. "They only use one type of airplane and we use only one cubicle system. Now, parts fit together all the time, and we can easily tear office space down, build it up, and put things back together quickly because it's only one system we have to know and it all works together."

Smith said the savings per office reconfiguration are significant. This year the CU saved $42,000 on a 56-cubicle redesign, and it cut costs by $74,000 on a more sophisticated office reconfiguration of 37 workspaces.

No junk mail: If incoming mail has little business value it heads in the trash at RBFCU rather than into the distribution system.

"We are large enough where we may get 30 mailings of a catalog - we don't need all of those," said Smith. "If it is not important mail, it goes in the waste can. We don't pay someone to walk around distributing mail that does not add any value."