ROSEVILLE, Mich.-Christian Financial CU boosted its auto lending portfolio and recaptured members' loans after instituting "Campaign Tracker."

VP of Lending Donna Anargyros said that the 34,000-member, $262-million CU began by purchasing a list of just under 1,000 names from Experian that identified members with auto loans from other lenders than CFCU that might be eligible for a lower rate. Names, contact information, credit scores and loan balances were included in the list, as well as information on members with leases so that Christin Financial could solicit those members to either refi the lease or get them preapproved for a car loan.

While some members responded, the overall response was initially underwhelming. In response, its IT department created Campaign Tracker, a dashboard-style solution integrated into CFCU's core processing system to help track loan prospects. Members that had responded to the initial letter were filtered out and the rest were divided among 17 loan officers. When those loan officers would call prospects, Campaign Tracker allowed them to easily click on the member's name to see the FICO score, estimated interest rate (based on CFCU's current rates) and remaining balance on the loan. CFCU's own loans were filtered out so as not to cannibalize loans already on its books.

In addition, members were also incented with a $50 gas card and delayed payments, which-because the campaign ran from September through November-allowed some members to skip a payment until after the holidays.

The results have led to recognition with a Credit Union Journal Best Practices Award for 2012.


Why Rates Were Lower

Rates were as low as 2.49% for A paper (as defined as any score 680 or above). Anargyros said that many members were able to get into lower rates than what they were paying, because mortgage modifications had allowed them to get their finances and credit under control in the interim period.

"We had people that were at 8% or 9% and we were bringing them down to three-something," she recalled.

As loan officers made contact with members, they could make notes in a comments section and select results of the call from a drop-down menu, such as setting up a follow-up call, send another mailer, not interested, accepted the offer, and more. If loan officers selected "declined" or "no response," another loan officer was assigned to make follow-up calls to those members.

Anargyros noted that it was a gradual process, with loan officers sometimes only making a few calls per day. But in the end Christian Finacialreceived 451 responses (totaling $6.51 million in loans) from 976 prospects, a 46% success rate.

While that growth came during the Bank Transfer Day period, CFCU does not consider it a huge factor in the campaign's success, since so many of the refis came from people who were already members at the CU but had their car loans elsewhere.


Direct Mail Not Enough

Anargyros said that the major takeaway from Campaign Tracker's success is that direct mail on its own isn't usually enough.

"Just sending a letter, you get something from your credit union, you look at it and then you throw it in the trash," she said. "I think it's the one-on-one, calling each of the members."

She said Christian Financial has since used the system on other campaigns, including a recent IRA push, and said the goal is over time to keep members dealing with the same loan officers campaign after campaign.

"It's really the personal thing-we have to not just trust the e-mails and the letters, but it's somebody reaching out," said Anargyros. "It's a lot more work, but the reward is so much greater."

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