July 31, 2014
To connect with members on the car lot and broaden appeal among younger consumers, Edge Federal Credit Union rolled out AskAuto in March. The app provides regional market price data about vehicles by simply scanning vehicle identification numbers, and allows members to apply for a car loan from their smartphones.
Using the AskAuto app, developed by CUES Supplier member CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wis., members scan the VIN of a vehicle they like and input the mileage. The app returns a price range based on the car’s overall condition.
“That makes for more informed buyers with the information right there to be able to say, ‘This price seems a little high,’” says Aerik Radley, marketing communications and social media specialist with the $40 million Liverpool, N.Y., credit union, with 3,900 members. “That saves them money—and that’s what they love.”
Members can store details on the vehicles at the top of their list for later comparison and apply for a car loan directly via AskAuto. They can even scan in their driver’s license to populate the Smartphone Loans application, the mobile version of loanliner.com, explains Steve Hoke, director of loan growth products for CUNA Mutual Group.
In the first year since launching the app, CUNA Mutual Group signed on 100 credit unions. “Their members are talking to other members about how easy it is to use and how it saved them money,” Hoke notes.
AskAuto recognizes the location of car dealers with which participating credit unions have indirect lending relationships, so the app can remind members to ask for credit union financing at the dealership, and credit unions can also push special offers via the app.
Edge FCU doesn’t offer indirect lending, so AskAuto is a key conduit to connect with members as they are car shopping. In a promotion from April through June, the credit union offered a quarter-point discount on car loans for members who applied through AskAuto. Branch staff handed out brochures with QR codes describing the service so members could scan the code and download the app easily.
Results were “fantastic,” according to Radley, with the second quarter promotion helping to generate 37 applications through the app. Total loan dollars booked from applications submitted through the app: just over $369,000
Radley adds that a couple years back, Edge FCU began focusing on recruiting younger members—60 percent of its membership was over age 50—by launching mobile services and communicating via social media. Since then, the CU’s acquisition of new members in the 18-25 age range has been running a little above the national average.
The AskAuto app has been popular among that prized demographic, he adds. “Younger members love it. They’re downloading, using it, and sharing it with family and friends.”
A long-time contributor to Credit Union Management, Karen Bankston writes about credit unions, membership growth, marketing, operations and technology. She is the proprietor of Precision Prose, Stoughton, Wis.