Pruning Your Credit Union for Growth

By Bo McDonald

When is the last time you took the time to analyze your product offerings? There’s a good chance that over the last decade or two you’ve introduced new products to your membership.  But did you look to remove antiquated or underperforming products?

In an article in Inc. magazine this past month, 37signals Co-founder and President Jason Fried made a great analogy between an apple tree and a business. The reason for pruning is to rid a tree or shrub of dead branches to make room for new growth. A freshly pruned tree may not be the prettiest sight. “In fact, a freshly pruned apple tree can be a sad sight, looking thinner and weaker than it did before you started. But that’s an illusion” said Fried in his Inc. article.

That’s exactly how you may feel about pruning your product and service offerings at your credit union. It may be as simple as eliminating paper statements or as difficult as doing away with a loan program. Either way, such a change can leave you feeling like your credit union is as sore a sight as a freshly pruned shrub.

Fried had this to say in his article: “In almost every case, cutting things back is a way of favoring what is left. You help the tree flourish by picking the winners. What’s more, pruning opens up new opportunities for your tree. Light gets in where it couldn’t before. Air circulates better. And new growth appears. If you did the pruning right, you’ve given your tree a stronger foundation for the future.”

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