Operations

Red Canoe CU Reinvents its Sales Culture

New incentive structures, creative training lead to award-winning results.

November 12, 2010
KEYWORDS sales , training
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Red Canoe Credit Union, Longview, Wash., is so passionate about its approach to helping employees live its sales culture that it required 62 pages to describe its efforts.

The extensive list of goals, incentives, training, and results accompanied the $540 million asset credit union’s award-winning entry for the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council Best Practice Awards.

The multiple changes made as part of Red Canoe’s sales training implementation include:

  • New incentive structures;
  • Creative follow-up training;
  • Internal campaigns to create “Loyalty Royalty” and bring other creative themes to life;
  • An intranet-based sales blog for managers and staff;
  • Quarterly management meetings; and
  • Staff recognition.

Incentive structure

Red Canoe set three goals to help link incentives to rewards:

  1. A 93.5% quality service rating, with one-fourth of that rating based on the use of mystery shoppers and three-fourths based on random member surveys;
  2. 10% net loan growth, or $42 million at year-end; and
  3. Net deposit growth of $47 million at year-end.
Red Canoe Credit Union
Red Canoe CU's new sales culture helped it refinance $7 million in competitors' loans in six months. Accepting a CUNA OpSS Best Practice Award are Red Canoe's Michelle Trekas, training specialist, and Rodney Snyder, AVP branches/sales.

Each goal was placed on a chart that indicated when progress toward the goal had reached 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%, with progress marked quarterly.

Reaching a target level was worth one point. Earning three points resulted in a $50 gift card for eligible employees as well as a “celebration lunch” for all staff.

That structure allowed the credit union to celebrate success toward a specific goal, even if some goals proved challenging. It also kept employees aware of progress toward year-end incentives.

Next: Training and reinforcement

Congrats Red Canoe!

Randy Schultz
November 16, 2010 2:20 pm
Once again, those in our industry who lead by example - and realize that the biggest impact and part of a successful brand IS the employee, are also the ones with the biggest gains when it comes to building strong member relationships. Well done Red Canoe team!


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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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