He Means Business

'Small businesses can be very profitable members if you have the right products and services to meet their needs.'

October 08, 2013
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Under Eric Jenkins’ leadership, CU Partner Link’s first big idea has become the “Next Big Idea.”

The company’s NOWaccount, which enables small business-to-business sellers to better manage cash flow, won a “Shark Tank”-like competition, claiming the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations’ honor for the industry’s best new concept.

NOWaccount provides simple, cost-effective access to capital by turning accounts receivables into cash. The product also gives credit unions a “legitimate chance to offer something of significant value for small businesses that banks can’t or won’t provide,” says Angi Harben, director of communications for the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA).

GCUA and the Cornerstone, Iowa, Ohio, and California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues own CU Partner Link.

NOWaccount has “supercharged” business prospects for Logo Surfing Promotional Products, an online retailer based in Georgia that produces branded materials, says Logo Surfing CEO Matthew Watkins.

“Before, I was literally afraid of getting too many big orders at once, which would put me in the position of potentially having to walk away from an order for lack of funding,” says Watkins, who used to rely on traditional lines of credit and home equity loans to balance the books. “NOWaccount allows me to go after larger national accounts because we have the funding to process just about any order we close.”

Logo Surfing added two service reps and increased its average order total 35% to put the company on pace for a record year. It counts among its clients both startup companies and giants such as The Coca-Cola Co., The Dow Chemical Co., and OfficeMax.

Jenkins envisioned making precisely that type of impact when he joined CU Partner Link as chief operating officer after more than 20 years representing credit unions. That includes a stint as a senior vice president at GCUA and a 10-year run as president of Palmetto Health Credit Union in Columbia, S.C., during which time the institution grew from $5 million to $50 million in assets.

To become the financial institution of choice for members, credit unions “must be willing to evolve quickly and be open to creating value for consumers in new and innovative ways,” Jenkins says.

CU Partner Link aims to drive revenue for credit unions by expanding membership, increasing loan originations, and creating additional fee income.

“Small businesses can be very profitable members if you have the right products and services to meet their needs,” Jenkins says. "This is largely an untapped market for many credit unions.”

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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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