California Success Story

Article excerpt

AT BUTTE COMMUNITY BANK, CREDIT CARD SALES SOAR THROUGH AGENT PROGRAM

Chico Mall sits at the edge of the Sacramento Valley in Chico, a Northern California city of 60,000 residents. And as is the case at most American shopping centers, credit card use is ubiquitous here. Whether people patronize J.C. Penney, See's Candies, Outback Steakhouse or any of the dozens of other retailers or restaurants, they primarily pay with plastic.

Butte Community Bank, a subsidiary of Community Valley Bancorp and the area's largest independent financial institution, has 15 branches and about $600 million in assets. The community bank wants to capture its share of the credit card market, and in recent years it has certainly achieved that goal.

Credit card applications at Butte Community Bank, which is headquartered in Chico and located in Butte County, Calif., soared 30 percent between 2006 and 2007. And the bank anticipated, as of last fall, another double-digit increase in applications for 2008.

Julia Wilson, Butte Community Bank's electronic banking manager, isn't taking all the credit for those new account sales. Instead, she cites the bank's partnership with ICBA Bancard and its subsidiary, TCM Bank N.A., as the driving force behind its rising number of credit card accounts.

"TCM offers us a complete package," Wilson says. "They give us everything we need to create a successful product. The customer sees us as a full-service bank."

Behind the Curtain ...

Here's how the TCM Bank program works: As one of more than 550 community banks on the Total Card Management program, Butte Community Bank receives Visa credit card marketing materials, custom application forms (personalized with the bank's logo) and compensation plans that are based on the bank's exposure to risk.

"Banks don't have to worry about management or compliance," says Katherine Worley, vice president of marketing at TCM Bank. "They have their staff focus on promoting the program, and in turn they can see it grow."

Even though TCM Bank supplies the plastic, Butte Community Bank's approved customers receive a card that features the bank's logo, thus making all the backroom support invisible.

"It's not about TCM," Worley says. "It's about the community bank. The entire program is to help out the community banker and have their brand reinforcement at the time of purchase."

The Power of Cross-Selling

TCM's support frees Butte Community Bank's employees to focus on their main goal-signing up customers. The bank does that by cross-selling to new account holders and actively participating in promotions and joint marketing efforts that are organized by TCM and Visa.

Every autumn, ICBA Bancard offers special Visa promotions to help its community banks acquire new customers and increase card usage. …