Focus on Members Drives Growth at DOCO Credit Union

Barbara Kieker

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Member growth at DOCO Credit Union was just shy of 5 percent in 2014, according to CEO Barry Heape, and that's well above the national average for credit unions.  Heape attributes the performance to the fact that  "customer service is still king" at the credit union. 

"As a nonprofit, member-owned financial corporation, we only exist to serve our members.  We're not here for stockholders," Heape said.

"We believe our purpose is to help people to be financially responsible.  And to act as a small business advisor and help our members grow their businesses."

DOCO Credit Union provides a full array of financial services to employees of more than 200 sponsoring organizations including school systems, hospitals, industries and businesses.  Additionally, 13 counties in the region were federally designated as underserved by financial institutions, making their residents eligible for credit union membership. 

"Many people don't realize that most anyone in Southwest Georgia can join our credit union," Heape said. 

Leveraging a strong membership base

According to Heape, DOCO Credit Union has identified three areas for growth: expanding the products and services per member, increasing promotion of key products and services and expanding small business lending. 

"We have a great membership base but typically only sell one, maybe two products to each member," Heape said.

"Most of our business comes through car loans so we have an opportunity to grow by improving our cross-selling." 

Among the products and services that Heape is targeting for promotion is “Sit to Save”, a service that invites customers to come in to discuss ways the credit union might be able to save them money on an existing personal loan from another financial institution. 

"If after spending 20 minutes with us and we are unable to save them money, we will pay them $25 for their time," Heape said.

"We originally ran “Sit to Save” as a promotion for six months in early 2014 and it was so successful we made it permanent.  We've identified thousands of dollars in savings for our members by providing them with lower rates on their credit cards and loans." 

The credit union is also looking at expanding geographically by adding branches in some surrounding underserved communities.  According to Heape, Cordele, Camilla and other smaller communities are expansion candidates over the next three to five years. 

Building financial responsibility in the community

DOCO Credit Union helps fulfill its mission to help people be financially responsible by providing financial education in partnership with its member organizations. The credit union employs a financial professional who provides age-appropriate financial education at every level of its member school systems, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

"For example, we purchased 1,000 copies of Money Rules by Jean Chatzky and we're giving a copy to every graduating senior.  We've given out 600 copies in the last three weeks," Heape said. 

"At the elementary school level, we may talk about how to count money and how important it is to save." 

The credit union provides similar financial education seminars to other member groups, which may cover how to balance a checkbook and prepare a budget.  And DOCO Credit Union supports a wide range of community organizations including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Alzheimer's Association, Relay for Life and Children's Miracle Network. 

More information on DOCO Credit Union is available at

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.