By Ray Birch
MOLINE, Ill.—One credit union invited the local community out for an evening to have a few drinks, some food and learn about the CU’s mortgage offerings.
The unique approach is producing additional mortgage loans for the $650-million Vibrant Credit Union.
Vibrant this year introduced its Mortgage on Tap, an event where consumers interested in purchasing a new home or refinancing their current one can chat with mortgage experts while also enjoying beers and food. The CU held three events so far this year and about 120 people showed up for all three, generating 10 extra mortgage loans and increasing t
he number of mortgage loan applications in the pipeline.
“We just wanted a different way to engage with our membership, the community and our local real estate business partners,” explained Cale VanGenderen, VP of mortgage sales.
Vibrant also wanted a way to talk to people that would be more effective that a straightforward presentation or discussion at the credit union.
‘Not Suit & Tie’
“These events are very casual,” said VanGenderen. “It’s not suit-and-tie stiff. We felt this was a much better way to share the benefits of our mortgage offerings than walking people into one of our board rooms and doing a PowerPoint presentation. This really got our communities’ attention and interest.”
The three events were held at a local brewery, a restaurant and events center. When people walked in they received a coupon worth $500 off closing costs. However, in order to utilize that coupon they had to collect a stamp from each of the booths set up throughout the event.
“At each location is we had at least one a mortgage officer ready to explain a specific mortgage product, along with a unique beer sample and appetizer from a local restaurant,” said VanGenderen. “We had four stations for the credit union and a fifth for our business partners, which included realtors and our preferred home inspector.”
What the Mortgage on Tap has done that is even more important than the uptick and applications and closed mortgages, said VanGenderen, is they are letting the community know the credit union is a full-service mortgage lender.
Not Rocket Mortgage, But…
“I think the community, and many of our members, don’t think the credit union offers all of the mortgage services as the big players,” he said. “We don’t have all the advertising dollars to throw around like Rocket Mortgage, for example. But we have all the same offerings as Rocket.”
At the events, Vibrant featured all of its mortgage products, including its low downpayment mortgage that requires 3% down and no PMI, Fannie and Freddie Mac offerings, as well as its new FHA line.
Vibrant thought it would be best to reach people after business hours, but also understood that evenings can become very busy for many.
“So we felt we had to make this thing fun and interesting, and make it a flexible event so people could come and go as they please. They did not have to stay for hours—some did. But there are a lot of people who just came for 20 minutes and got all the information they needed and went on with their evening.”
VanGenderen said the events ran from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“I’d say the majority of the people who came were in their late 30s to early 40s,” added VanGenderen.
He noted that the event held at the local brewery was the most popular and effective of the three. The CU offered tours of the brewery, as well.
“We plan to do more of these later this fall and in the spring of next year,” said VanGenderen. “People really like them. They say they are informative and fun and they also say they are surprised a financial institution would do this and could not think of another bank or credit union in town that would do anything similar.”
VanGenderen reiterated that Mortgage on Tap is a great way to get people to lower their guards and listen to what the credit union has to say.
“If you can get your mortgage questions answered in a half an hour or hour and have fun at the same time … we think this is really a good way to reach our members and the community,” VanGenderen said.