The possibilities may be endless, but your resources are not. For many CUSOs with limited time and money, deciding which ideas to pursue can be a challenge. Here are three ways to prioritize your options for growth:
- Start with your vision
The best way to make sure you’re moving in the right direction is to take a step back from all of your ideas and begin by looking at your vision for your CUSO. Who do you want to be as an organization? When you have a clear picture of your goal in mind, it will be easier to visualize what steps you need to take in order to achieve it. Without a clear vision you could end up pursuing options that actually drag you in an opposite direction.
- Use tools to stay objective
While it’s natural to be somewhat subjective, after all growth is exciting, you don’t want to make decisions based on emotions alone. Try bringing objectivity into your decision-making process by using tools to evaluate and compare your options. When it comes to external growth, CUSOs can use the Market Criteria Matrix to evaluate the best markets for and the Prospect Criteria Matrix to evaluate acquisition or partnership prospects. These tools can be adapted to evaluate any opportunity for growth.
Keeping your vision in mind, develop between four to six key criteria of your ideal opportunity. Next, you develop metrics to quantify the criteria and assign a weight to each criteria based on how important each factor is to you. For example, if one of your goals is to expand your service area, one of your criterion would be geography and the metric could be find potential credit union acquisitions, buying branches or building branches in adjacent markets. You might weight this criteria at 50% while assigning a less important factor like a new brand image a weight of 10%. Give each criteria a rating using a 1-10 scale and multiply the rating by the weight to calculate the score of each option. Repeat this process for each growth option to see how the options compare to each other and to the criteria you’ve established.
- Gather data
Making a decision without the proper information can be a big mistake. Conduct research to validate (or invalidate) your assumptions. You don’t have to uncover every granular detail, but it will be helpful to have an understanding of trends and how they will impact your members and market in the future. One of the best sources of information about the marketplace is your members. Try identifying the needs and wants of current and future members. It may even be as simple as conducting a member survey or asking your sales department for input.
While it can be overwhelming to process through all your options for growth, the good news is that you have many options! Hopefully these three suggestions will help you organize your thoughts as you plan your next steps.
John Dearing is a managing director at Capstone, the leader in strategic mergers and acquisitions for CUSOs. The firm focuses on helping credit unions and CUSOs grow by developing, evaluating and implementing proactive initiatives for growth. John can be reached at 703-854-1910 or JDearing@CapstoneStrategic.com.