Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Looking around for the “Keep your Gas Guzzler” campaign

The Skeptic household is a typical 2 car gas guzzling American home. We’ve got the good-mileage-long-commute car and the gas-sucking SUV. The SUV is older, paid off, and gets about 17 MPG. Recently, we entertained the idea of trading in the gas eater for something more fuel efficient, an idea that the TV and Internet seems to indicate many people are entertaining.

I won’t bore you with the math here, but basically it would cost us ~$3000/year in fuel to drive the least efficient vehicle on our longest commute everyday. (We don’t actually do that, but it’s a fun budgeting excercise.) It would only cost a Prius ~$1000/year in fuel. Sounds pretty good, except we’d probably be paying ~ $375/month ($4500/year) for a car payment. That’s $2500 more over the course of the year than we would spend to keep SUV for another year. Even if I found a used Civic, the fuel savings would probably not make up the cost difference.

“Ok, we get it. You’re a cheapskate and don’t mind singlehandedly destroying the environment. What’s the point?”

The point is, that if you’re a CU that wants to promote thrift, members turning in their paid off vehicles is probably not something you should be pushing*. I know there is a chunk of the population that naturally would be up for a car turnover this year and if a gas promotion will draw those people to your CU, go for it. However, that’s not all people, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say not a great deal of people.

How great would it be if a CU acknowledged this and promoted sessions/meeting/consults to help people evaluate their car situation and, if the situation leans towards keeping the current vehicle, offer other tips on how to save money on their current commute.

People are eating up thrift info right now (just watch your favorite local and national news tonight) and it would be a great time to re-enforce this core purpose.

* I’m not saying you can’t do both or that doing a gas promo means you don’t care about thrift, I’m just saying it’s not for everyone.

“What if it’s hugely successful?”

In a post back in March, I talked about Bank Fear. Apparently it’s not just Banks that CU minds are scared of. In fact, based on what you read, you might think CU people are just about the most scared, pessimistic people in the FI world today.

I’m referencing the some of the responses to CUES Experience presentations given in mid May. (That’s to Tim McAlpine for sharing those with everyone who wasn’t there.)

Here’s my challenge to anyone attending upcoming CU conferences. After a presentation, especially one of those super innovative ones, suppress the desire in your mind to dive into the “worst case” scenario. Fight against all those years of status quo conditioning and instead, try something different.

Envision the “best case” scenario. Try questions like:

  • What if this radically enhances our customer experience?
  • What if we have an huge influx of Gen Y members?
  • What if this creates such a great work environment, we have to turn away really talented applicants?
  • What if we become hugely influential in our community?
  • What if our Young and Free representative ends up being our CU’s CEO at the age of 30?
  • What if this drives the community bank down the street out of business?

Now these may sound silly, but is it any more silly than “What if Larissa gets arrested?”

I’m just asking you to try it. Who knows what may happen.

Bonus Points: The challenge becomes a dare. If you actually stand up and ask one of these (or similar) wildly optimistic questions at a conference in the future and can document (through video, audio, or a few witnesses) I’ll send you a $15 Starbucks gift card!*

*I can only do that for the first person that I hear from. So the race is on!

A long vacation…

It’s been a little while since my last post. Ok a long while. It’s not that I haven’t seen anything to be skeptical about, it’s just been really busy times in the personal and professional life of Mr. Skeptic. I hope to be able to explain this better at some point, but for now, all I can say is that it has been busy around here. (Good busy, but busy none the less.)

So I’ll quickly point out some of the things that caught my attention during my hiatus. I hope to explore these all a little further in separate blog posts, including one this weekend. (These may not be in order.)

  • Fear still proves to be at the forefront of CU minds.
  • CURIA is hanging out around congress. (I hear this bill will save every US Credit Union, free CUs from every current burden, and provide funds to make sandwiches for each and every member. Without it I’ve heard CUs in the US will fail to exist.)
  • Trey Reeme did NOT ask for all over 60 board members to resign. He may or may not have called CUs boring.
  • Currency Marketing’s Young and Free could be coming to a CU near you. (Still gathering info and forming opinions about this)

I’m sure there is more, but those came to mind first. My favorite quote from my hiatus comes from Tim McAlpine’s twitter, it was directed at me.

“Silence is not skeptical. Silence is irrelevant.”

He is dead on. And that’s why I hope to keep writing. Not to stay relevant for the sake of being relevant, but to stay relevant because there are things said here that are left in silence else where.