Monthly Archives: June 2011

It Was BIG, Thanks to Your Help

It would have taken a whole lot more than overcast skies and a little rain to dampen the entrepreneurial spirits of the 40 youth who showed up at “work” Saturday for First National Bank’s inaugural “BIG Lemonade Stand.”

Bring on the Customers!

From the authentic lemonade stand to the classic signage, this group of 5-13 year olds made the most of their afternoon.  They poured lemonade, handed out stickers to loyal customers, and put their classroom learning to work.

Thanks to all of you parents for allowing your children to participate.  Thanks to all of you who bought cold lemonade on a chilly day in order to encourage these eager kids to take the initiative and get excited about working hard and earning money.  Thanks to Bluffton Presbyterian Church for allowing the kids to set up shop on the church lawn.  Thanks to Bluffton Dari Freeze for donating cups for the stand.  Thanks to Randy Scoles and company for his great work on the lemonade stand.  And thanks to the young people who participated and have a little extra money in their savings accounts as a result of their labor.

Inaugural BIG Lemonade Stand

New Business Coming To Bluffton!

A new business will be opening its doors on June 24, 2011, in Bluffton, Ohio.

And, earlier this spring I had the opportunity to facilitate a strategic planning session for this aspiring business.  The company has about 40 employees that are full of energy, passion and enthusiasm.  They come from different backgrounds but they all have bright minds and you can see the potential when they start moving in the same direction towards a common goal.

I facilitated the strategic planning session to help them think through their idea and formalize a business model.  Their product isn’t necessarily anything special, but their presentation and delivery is where they have a competitive advantage.  The ideas flew fast and furious.  I had trouble keeping up, but here are a few notes we took at the planning session:

Proposed Business Location: Downtown Bluffton (Main St and Cherry)

Direct Competition: There will be plenty of it; will be tough to compete long-term; especially Common Grounds, Community Markets, The Food Store, etc.

Target Market: Any human, all ages; must be thirsty

Product Pricing: $0.50/item; try to encourage repeat business and BIG tips

Competitive Advantage: Young, enthusiastic, persuasive, cute

Marketing: Social media and local media(I offered to help with this one), door-to-door selling (see note above on being persuasive and cute), pass out coupons on Main Street, make lots of noise at the business location, have customers wear stickers publicizing that they participated.

Hours of Operation: Friday, June 24, 2011, 1-5pm; see how it goes and play it by ear to determine if we reopen after Friday.

Goal: Earn, Save, and Spend wisely; Develop the entrepreneurial spirit; plant the seed early to encourage financial responsibility; Build Community Greatness

Business Name: Young Entrepreneurs

Product: Best lemonade this side of Main Street

What to Watch For: Very persistent Young Entrepreneurs in royal Blue T-Shirts coming after you with a glass of lemonade and a sticker

What the Young Entrepreneuers will do with their earnings: Deposit in their savings accounts

How You (the reader) can Help: Visit the “Big Lemonade Stand” on June 24 in Bluffton and show your support for these Young Entrepreneurs who are learning first-hand about responsibility, earning money, creativity, and teamwork

Member FDIC          Equal Housing Lender

 

 

What’s my Credit Score?

According to a recent report by Smartcredit.com, only 4% of people access their free credit each year. The government originally started requiring the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Transunion, and Experian—to provide a free annual report every year to encourage credit education, reduce fraud and identity theft among consumers. Given the 4% utilization rate, it appears the effort may not be working according to plan. However, credit monitoring is big business as more and more players are entering the market for your financial management dollars. Here are five things to consider regarding personal credit management and your free report:

1. Annualcreditreport.com is the ONLY government sponsored site that offers a free annual report from each of the three credit bureaus. There are countless copycats and plenty of other legitimate providers, but make sure you know what kind of site you’re visiting before you invest money with a credit monitoring service.

2. This site (annualcreditreport.com) allows users to choose the method and timing of report orders. The reports can be ordered at the same time or staggered over the course of the year: user option. Also, the credit history report is free, BUT it does cost to get a FICO score as part of the order.

3. Once you order a report from one of the bureaus, it’s not free again for a full year.

4. Since the report is designed to promote awareness, it makes sense to use the report to familiarize yourself with the content of your report. If there are errors or fraudulent information on your history, there are ways to dispute the information and get the report corrected. It’s important to dispute the information immediately so when good credit matters—loan, insurance, and job application to name a few—your record will be correct and accurately reflect your history.

5. As identity theft and security breaches of personal information become more common, it is essential to protect identity and monitor fraudulent activity. All three of the main bureaus, and many other quality credit monitoring providers, offer ongoing protection in various forms. It would be very wise to use annualcreditreport.com as an introduction to your credit, and then find a service to help you monitor your credit and personal information moving forward. It is much easier to plan ahead and purchase protection than it is to try to pick up the pieces after you’ve been victimized by identity theft.

Member FDIC Equal Housing Lender

Back to Kasasa…Where does this fit into reality?

Since we launched Kasasa at First National Bank on May 9, 2011, we’ve had a great response from the community. Many of our existing clients are giving it a try and finding out this product is fantastic. We’re also seeing a good number of new faces coming through the doors at all of our branches to see what the buzz is all about.

I’ve also had a good number of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances say something like this in response to Kasasa: “Kasasa, yes, I’m still trying to figure that one out…”
Kasasa (i.e. rewards deposit accounts) does seem to fly in the face of everything a bank normally holds dear: we pay a modest rate of interest, don’t get too crazy with promotions and gimmicks, and don’t do anything that will make people wonder whether or not we really know how to take care of their money. In contrast, Kasasa pays a rate of interest most people would jump to have right now on a certificate of deposit, and we’re willing to pay it on a checking account. Kasasa is a word that sounds crazy and maybe a little gimmicky. And with the rates and the name, people may be wondering if we really know what we’re doing at First National.

The reality of the situation is that banking is changing. We are a small business, and we have to adapt to challenges just like any organization; lately it seems like we see a new challenge every time we turn around. For example, we are VERY heavily regulated, and the rules aren’t going to be loosening any time soon. Competition is also fierce as non-banks are starting to offer products we’ve offered for years. And, technology is changing the way everyone conducts business—including banking. We have more accounts and customers than we’ve ever had before at First National, but we have fewer and fewer people coming into our branches on a regular basis. As online banking, direct deposit, and smartphones become more and more prevalent, we are realizing we have to adapt in order to be successful and provide a relevant service you value.

Circling back to the original question, the reasons we offer Kasasa center around the ways we’re trying to adapt to our environment. If a customer meets three behavioral criteria on a regular basis he or she is rewarded with the high rate of interest and/or other rewards. These criteria are:

1) Debit cards – We earn money—interchange—whenever someone swipes a debit or check card. In addition, it costs us more money to process a paper check than it does to handle electronic transactions. If a client swipes her card a certain number of times (10) in a qualification cycle, then she meets this criterion.

2) estatements – It costs us money every time we generate and mail paper statements. It costs a LOT of money over time. Some estimates are that it costs more than $2/Statement mailed. In order to qualify for the account rewards, a client has to agree to receive statements electronically. The great thing is that this not only cuts costs, but also provides a couple significant benefits to our clients. First, estatements are environmentally friendly because they can be viewed online without having to be printed. Second, instead of having to wait on your statement in the mail, our estatements are accessible immediately after being generated through our online banking. In addition, the online banking site provides instant access to old statements so in essence you have an archive of statements at your fingertips.

3) The final qualification is to have one direct deposit or one automatic ACH (electronic) debit in a qualification period. One of our main goals in offering these new accounts is to develop clients who use us as their primary bank. We’d love to be the primary bank for all of our clients. Clients who have direct deposit or set up automatic ACH debits are more likely to use the account as their primary account. We’re trying to encourage that relationship.

Ultimately, in order for us to be a successful bank we need to adapt. Adapting in this case means embracing technology (debit cards/estatements/electronic transactions), cutting costs (estatements/debit cards), and growing relationships with clients so they use us as their primary bank (Direct deposit/ACH debits). This is a mutually beneficial development because we’re accomplishing our goals by offering superior products and meeting the financial needs of our local communities.
Hopefully, this helps a few of our Kasasa skeptics understand both the benefits and the reasoning behind the products we’ve introduced. It is possible for both sides to benefit in a situation like this.

I’d welcome your comments and feedback on any of this, and if you have questions about Kasasa and rewards accounts, feel free to respond.

Member FDIC Equal Housing Lender