You “dated” several financial wellness vendors. You found something that meets your needs, a proposal was sent, and now you are “engaged” to the vendor that best suits your needs. What comes next? Planning your marriage! When an engagement happens, don’t you find it ironic that most people spend so much time and money planning the relatively short ceremony while neglecting to plan for the life-long marriage? Well, when it comes to this relationship, we want to ensure a successful partnership.
Here are some tips for planning for a successful partnership:
Celebrate with a reception!
Think of ways to introduce both organizations to one another and plan to celebrate with a “Launch Party” for your staff. This could include staff training meetings, department head meetings, marketing materials, staff contests, and other fun ideas to make sure your team knows who your vendor is and how to utilize the vendor relationship in day-to-day operations. In my experience, if your teams get to know your new vendor, they will be far more likely to refer others to take advantage of the program offerings. More referrals = higher usage. Higher usage means a greater impact on those who need it most.
Discuss preferred practices for communication.
Who are the key contacts within both organizations? Did they have a chance to get to know each other during the dating process or through the launch party? How often do they expect communication? Would you like phone calls or meetings monthly or quarterly? Ask your vendor how often they will send email communications such as newsletters or reminders.
Discuss program implementation.
How do we get innovative with implementing this partnership in multiple departments? Do not be afraid to ask the vendor for ideas for what has worked well for others. You will try some things that may not work, and you will find that unexpected methods can do wonders. This is a process of weaving lives together. Remember that all departments might use the relationship differently and uniquely. Retail, marketing, lending, collections, and even your training departments need to become familiar with all they have access to through this new partnership.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to learn how to adapt to the new and unexpected. I know humans have a tendency to build habits and find a normal routine. However, creativity can breed new success and help establish a new normal. Just because you have always done something a certain way, does not mean that way will always be the best method. If something stops working or is no longer relevant, be candid with your vendor. They should be able to help you think through new ways to meet or achieve your goals.
Now that you have embarked on this journey, give yourself grace as you navigate the unknown. In my last blog post, we discussed that every great partnership starts just like every great love story, by building mutual trust.
My husband and I have been married for over 9 years, and I know we still have more to learn as we continue to grow old together. Those 9 years have not been easy, but we choose each day to work on our relationship. My parents have been married almost 42 years, and they have told me that relationships sometimes feel easy and things may seem great. However, there will be seasons where things may not go exactly as planned. Don’t give up or blame the other person when that happens. Communicate! Uncommunicated change breeds chaos. Both parties should try to work together. Do all relationships last forever? No, but they don’t have to end badly either. You may have created something beautiful together when you started your journey. You may even still need each other, but in a different capacity than you originally supported one another.
In my life, I am one of 4 parents to my oldest daughter. We are a beautifully blended family, and we know that what is best for my daughter is to have a solid relationship with all 4 of her parents. My husband still needs his ex. They are friends and they parent together fabulously. His ex needs me and I need her. We need each other as friends and we all have something unique to provide to our daughter.
Perhaps you find your organization is growing and changing rapidly, much like a “child”. This could mean that your organization is best supported by multiple financial education vendor relationships. In my next article, we will uncover the world of being able to establish a blended relationship with more than one vendor to meet your financial education needs.
At BALANCE, my role is all about deepening the relationship with our partners. I love learning what they are aiming to accomplish at their credit union and then coming alongside them with our tools to accomplish that. Please call me so we can help reach more of your members and improve their financial health together.