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CU System
California CU Creates 'Baseball' Competition To Increase Loans
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (8/6/13)--A California credit union has come up with a new way to boost consumer lending its members.
 
Click to view larger image Fifteen employees were divided into a red and blue team, as South Bay CU, based in Redondo Beach, Calif., found an innovative way to rally its employees. They worked out a game plan for a second quarter "baseball season" of in-house competition to increase consumer loans. (Photo provided by South Bay CU)
While many companies talk about employees as team players, South Bay CU, based in Redondo Beach, Calif., found an innovative way to rally its employees. Maricela Jauregui, vice president of member services at the $79.1 million asset credit union with branches in Torrance and Redondo Beach, Calif., had an idea on a Friday night, when, coincidentally, South Bay CEO Jennifer Oliver was at a baseball game.
 
They worked out a game plan for a second quarter "baseball season" of in-house competition to increase consumer loans. The 15 employees were divided into a red and blue team, with Oliver acting as "umpire." The Brick House and Loan Ranger teams were captained by experienced loan closers, with the front line and support staff working to gain points to get on base--Oliver and Maricela devised a system in which any staff member could earn singles, doubles, triple, home runs and even grand slams to earn "runs" for their teams by promoting loan activity.
 
Front line staff learned new tasks--from taking loan applications, opening new accounts to serving as notaries--to give the loan closers more time to close loans.
 
"There was a real synergy," Oliver said. "People were thinking outside the box, learning new parts of their jobs. They were totally charged because they realized what we were trying to make happen. Where before people might have said 'it's not my job,' they learned how and why their support is necessary."
 
Oliver noted that during the competition, South Bay's monthly average funding for consumer loans increased by 350% from the previous four-year monthly average. April, May and June were million dollar months, for a total of $3.4 million in consumer loans, which equaled 91% of all consumer loans business in the previous year.
 
Buoyed by hitting it out of the park in the second quarter, South Bay challenged other credit unions in the network to see who could fund the most consumer loans. They are vying with United Advantage CU in Portland, Ore., and plans are underway to find a competitor for the fourth quarter. If no credit union steps up, Oliver said, she plans another in-house competition with a football theme.
 
Oliver's message is that "success happens with focus and fun." It's important that team members know why it's important to make loans and how each employee can make a difference, she added.
 
"It's part of a larger cultural change, encouraging staff members to think of themselves as business partners," Oliver said. "Finances are boring, but the baseball game gave us a tangible way to show the same goals and numbers in a fun way."
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