The Farmers Bank

 

THE FARMERS BANK

11 branches
Based in Portland, TN
$500 million in assets

CHALLENGE

  • 88% of new customers opening a free checking account.
  • $800,000 decrease in fee income on deposit accounts since 2009
  • 27% of customer base unprofitable.

STRATEGY

  • Implement updated value account to meet the demands of today’s consumer.  
  • New value account, branded Amped Checking, priced at $6 with 10 cent debit card buy down.
  • Fix and grow small relationships by upgrading unprofitable customers to Amped account.
  • Train staff to reorient focus on value with StrategyCorps’ customized sales system.

RESULTS

  • 25-30% opening rate for Amped Checking at the new accounts desk.
  • 61% increase in fee income.
  • A “value” mentality replaces “free” mentality.
 

When Jennifer Anderson became VP of Marketing at The Farmers Bank in July of 2012, she brought new ideas, new techniques and a thriving new product lineup featuring Amped Checking, the account that replaced their low performing club account, Bank Plus Checking.

Throughout the previous year, the bank opened 1,500 new DDAs. Of those new accounts, only 15 were Bank Plus accounts. That rate combined with low involvement from their vendor pushed Jennifer to evaluate the bank’s product lineup that had not been altered in decades.

“I started with profitability analyses on the contracts that we had, and the Bank Plus one had been seriously going in the wrong direction for the past several years,” said Jennifer. “I went downstairs to a CSR and asked her, ‘If I want to be a new Bank Plus customer, what has to happen?’ She pulls out this gigantic envelope and tells me I need to fill out this, this and this then mail this, this and this. Plus, she confessed that the CSRs don’t even talk to people about it anymore. Any time they tried to use any of it, it didn’t work.”

Thanks to Jennifer’s quick discovery of this outdated product with low profitability, she was ready to start the conversation with Adam Thompson, senior sales consultant at StrategyCorps, on developing a new account that would bring valuable benefits, a simplified lineup of accounts and new fee income to keep the bank prospering.
 

New leadership, new partnerships

“The process started to move really quickly, but our biggest obstacle was internal,” said Jennifer. “We have a veteran staff who was fully programmed over a number of years to talk about giving everything away for free. Switching that mentality was a challenge.”

Jennifer pushed forward with a transparent approach. She involved her CSRs every step of the way with biweekly conference calls, focus groups and one on one sales trainings.

“What motivates them is feeling involved and having a voice and a vote in decision making,” said Jennifer. “Before and after the account launch, they could ask questions, give feedback, raise their concerns, and I’d address them right then and there.”

The new Amped Checking Account was launched in August 2013. 

“The account was built with new BaZing benefits, which are not only better but easier to use,” said Jennifer. “Replacing a cracked screen on a cell phone is relevant. Local discounts are relevant. Our front line can sell it because they use it and believe in it.”

Amped Checking now has a 25-30% opening rate at the new accounts desk. The average percentage of openings of their previous Bank Plus Checking account was only 0.01%.

“The key to their sales success is that the staff uses it,” said Adam. “They’re not just repeating what I told them to say in the sales training classes. They’re pulling out their phones and showing customers the app. They’re telling them stories about their vacation to Disneyland and how using BaZing saved their family over $300 on tickets. That kind of personal connection is what sells accounts.”

StrategyCorps’ CheckingScore analysis was first used to identity unprofitable customers within the bank’s base. Of those, they chose to migrate 2,900 customers into the new Amped Account, priced at $6 a month.

“Of course our CSRs were faced with a handful of phone calls and account closings that Adam warned us about, but it only took a couple of days for the CSRs to find their confidence,” said Jennifer.

Of the 2,900 letters mailed to customers migrated to the Amped account, only 7% of people left the account.

“Taking our best practices and weaving that in with your unique team is what gets you the results The Farmers Bank has seen,” said Adam. “They understand who they are, who their customers are and where they want to go. By knowing all those pieces, we were able to create a roadmap, formulate a plan and master it.”