Hooray! Winter 2015 Newsletter

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  • 7/25/2019 Hooray! Winter 2015 Newsletter


    Brian P. Short ...........................2Austin Update ..........................4Brownsdale Update ...................4Cannon Falls Update .................5Fairmont Update .......................7Goodhue Update ......................7Grand Meadow Update .............8Le Sueur Update .......................9Luverne Update .......................11Pipestone Update .....................11

    Hooray!WINTER 2015

    S H O R T C O M P A N I E S

    (continued on page 4)

    Customer Service WeekOctober 5-9, 2015

    We had a great Customer Service

    Week (CSW) in 2015! It was fun,exciting, and filled with treats

    and messages; we pledged to go

    to Heroic Measures to serve and

    support our customers because we


    Red Wing Update ................... 14Stewartville Update ................. 14White Rock Update ................. 15

    Admiral Merchants Update ...... 16Calhoun Towers Update ........... 17Executive Offices Update ......... 18Eagle Awards.......................... 18St. Paul Flight Center Update ...20Wellness ................................. 21News .....................................23


  • 7/25/2019 Hooray! Winter 2015 Newsletter


    year; its been a tough year. It wasalways going to be a challengingyear when compared to 2014,

    the best year in the history of ourcompany. It was always going tobe difficult to measure up to thefinancial results achieved that year.However, in 2015 we encountereda number of challenges: significantcredit problems and the continuingproblems faced by all involved withagricultural production, the mainindustry served by First Farmers &Merchants Banks.

    I shared with the teams that if wehope to improve, we have to remainoptimistic. It is pretty easy to getdown in the dumps when you workvery hard, as every member of theFirst Farmers & Merchants teamdoes, and the results arent there. Ireminded everyone that we have tobe optimistic about 2016.

    Community banking can be a very

    challenging business. However, tobe successful, you have to alwaysdo three things:

    1. find new quality customers; 2. avoid mistakes; and

    3. deliver service to ourcustomers which is better thanthe service they receive anywhereelse.

    Of those three elements of successin community banking, the First

    Farmers & Merchants teamsexcel in the delivery of customerservice. I have talked to a lot of ourcustomers over the years and I havevisited with a lot of other bankers.Consistently, members of the FirstFarmers & Merchants team rankhigher on customer service thanothers with whom I am familiar.

    I am constantly reminded of thiswhen I visit with our customers.

    On December 18, I was in Le Sueursampling virtually every variety ofhomemade cookies brought in bymembers of the team, while visitingwith one of our customers. Thiscustomer is a retired managementprofessional who, prior to herretirement, had been responsiblefor a fairly large business in theLe Sueur community. She has hada long and close relationship withmembers of the team in Le SueurThis past summer, she told meshe was visiting her daughter andgrandchildren in Denver. While herdaughter was at work, our customerwas responsible for overseeing thegrandchildren. She had them in hercar and stopped by a bank in Denverto get some money from the ATMmachine. She took her First Farmers& Merchants card inside while thegrandchildren remained locked

    in the car. As she was getting hermoney from the ATM machineshe was constantly looking out tomake sure the grandchildren werestill in the vehicle and the vehiclewas still in the parking lot. Shefinished conducting her business inminutes and raced back out to thecar to be with the children.

    Later that afternoon, she realizedshe had misplaced her debit card

    She immediately went on-line andfound that there had been a numberof unauthorized transactions inher account. Obviously concernedabout this, she immediately calledher personal banker in Le Sueurwho suggested she contact our ITgroup in Pipestone. Our customerwasnt sure whether she was calling


    2015 First Farmers & Merchants Cookie Tour

    Brian P. Short

    As many of the readers of thiscolumn know, the First Farmers &Merchants Banks host Christmasopen houses throughout December,inviting our customers in for lightsandwiches, cookies, coffee andcider. I try to attend as many as Ican. This years Cookie Tour beganon December 1, 2015, in Austin,MN and concluded on December22 in St. Paul. In-between thosedates, I visited 14 First Farmers& Merchants offices and receivedone well deserved speeding ticket.The Christmas Cookie Tour isalways one of the highlights of theyear for me, not only because I getto eat delicious, often homemadeChristmas cookies, but also becauseI spend a lot of time not only withhundreds of our customers who are

    grateful for the service they receivefrom members of the First Farmers& Merchants team but also withthe folks who deliver that greatservice.

    The message I delivered to ourteams was that 2015 has been atough year. It hasnt been a bad

  • 7/25/2019 Hooray! Winter 2015 Newsletter



    an employee of First Farmers& Merchants or an outsourcedservice. She called the 800 numberand reached Pipestones CindyKoenders. Cindyis a key memberof the First Farmers & Merchantsdata center team. Cindydid her bestto calmly put our customer at easeby assuring her the money would berestored to her account and that thecard would be canceled so that nofurther unauthorized transactionswould occur. In addition, shetold her that a new card wouldimmediately be on its way. Ourcustomer told me that Cindy, awoman she had never met, wentout of her way to put her at ease and

    solve all of the problems she faced.Our customer hung up the phonefrom her call with Cindyand wentback to enjoy the rest of her timewith her grandchildren, knowingthat her bank account issues hadbeen resolved.

    It was interesting to me to note thatnot once did our customer have tonavigate a call waiting tree; notonce was she on hold; not oncewas she told to call a different 800

    number. Her banker in Le Sueurgave her the direct dial number ofsomeone who could help her withher problem, and that person, CindyKoenders, solved the problem.

    Our customer thought that wasremarkable service. I told her thatwas the standard, every day FirstFarmers & Merchants customerservice. We did it for her and wedo it for dozens of other customers

    every day.

    I am confident that First Farmers& Merchants will get beyond thechallenges we faced in 2015. Wewill do so because we deliver greatcustomer service. We deliver greatcustomer service because it is oneof our core values recognized inour Corporate Mission Statement We always deliver outstandingcustomer service that emphasizes

    friendliness, convenience andpersonalization. However, inaddition, we deliver great customerservice because the members ofour team truly like their customers.Dale Roemmich, president of theFirst Farmers branch in Pipestone,observed that during the Pipestoneopen house, customers would comein and sit down and drink theircoffee and eat their cookies. Everytime that happened, a member of theteam came over and sat down andtalked to the customer. They did itbecause they like their customers.The genuine affection that wefeel for all of our customers bigcustomers and small customers is why we are able to deliver greatcustomer service day after day.

    I know that every member of theFirst Farmers & Merchants teamcommits him or herself every dayto our mission of delivering greatcustomer service. And becauseof that, we will continue to besuccessful. Yes, there might be

    bumps in the road as there werein 2015. But over our career, overthe life of our company, we will

    be the winner because we like ourcustomers and put their interestsfirst. We will be the winner becauseof the people of First Farmers &Merchants. All of us can learnvaluable lessons from that.

    Thanks for all you do. I hope that

    everyone had a great Christmas,and best wishes for a wonderfulNew Year.

    Brian P. Short

    Opal Heydt, 95 years old, withColleen Tebay in Brownsdale.

    Opal still lives in the house thatshe and her husband bought 70years ago. She visits the old

    people in the nursing home, most

    of whom are younger than sheis. She still drives and was goingto the Messiah at St. Augustines

    Church in Austin.

    Christmas in Sargeant

    FF&M Pipestone Open House

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    Customer Service Week / Updates


    WEEK 2015(continued from page 1)

    We are mere mortals exhibitingsuper-human customer servicecharacteristics;

    We are dedicated to serving ourcustomers;

    We are sincere do-goodersworking undercover to solve ourcustomers problems;

    We work above and beyond tohelp perfect strangers;

    We are doing our jobs withrewarding customer results;

    We exhibit and observe super-heroes in action every day; Why Because we are Everyday


    We have continued to use our CSWpowers and are committed to usingour Customer Service SuperheroPower in 2016.

    Submitted by: Pat Gegner, CreditManager, Admiral Merchants

    Motor Freight, Inc.

    Maria Navarro, Teller, andConnie Sprung, Lead Teller,participated in the Austin CitizensPolice Academy this fall. It ranfor six weeks, for 2 hours each

    Tuesday night. We learned thehistory, toured the dispatch center,shot at the gun range, lifted fingerprints, met Sonic, the K-9 unit,handcuffed each other, got to seeall the different types of streetdrugs out there now, and toured