Today we are joined by Ryan Harbry from StrategyCorps, the company behind Bazing, the powerful tool that helps make the First United YouFirst line of checking accounts some of the most powerful accounts available today. Listen in to hear about some of the many great benefits and features of the YouFirst line of products that can keep you safe and save you money. Learn more at MyBank.com/checking
Announcer: Welcome to the "What Matters Most" podcast, presented by First United Bank & Trust. That's my bank. Visit us today at mybank.com.
Eric: Hello, and welcome to "What Matters Most," the podcast all about finances, communities, savings, and security for you, your family, and your business. This podcast is brought to you by the helpful folks at my bank, First United Bank & Trust. I'm your host, Eric Nutter, and in today's episode, "What Matters Most," is saving money and protecting your family. And for this helpful discussion, I am thankful to be joined today remotely by Ryan Harbry, regional director of sales and consulting at StrategyCorps, the company behind BaZing, the savings and security tool that helps power the YouFirst line of products at First United. Ryan, how are you doing this morning?
Ryan: I'm doing great, Eric, thank you so much for having me on today.
Eric: Yeah, no, I appreciate you joining me. Now, you're joining remotely today 'cuz you're far away from me. Where are you located?
Ryan: I am rather far from you, yes. So, I live in Atlanta, Georgia, that's where I call home. Actually, a suburb of Atlanta, just north in an area called Roswell. Actually, when I talk about Atlanta, I say that Atlanta, believe it or not, is as much like an island, although instead of being surrounded by water, it's just surrounded by traffic all the time.
Eric: That does not sound fun to me.
Ryan: It's a good city, though. It's a great city. I've been here for about 25 years but yep, I live in Atlanta.
Eric: Wow. What's the weather like down there today for you?
Ryan: Oh, hot, muggy, very humid. I say that you can basically drown just by walking down the street, it's that humid. Yeah, but it's good, typical summer.
Eric: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Well, summer is coming to an end. We're in the throes of it, we're in the August timeframe, so we're getting down to the end of it. Every day, you know, it seems like the sun drops a little sooner than I'd like. Well, today, Ryan, again, thank you for joining me, we're here to talk about saving money and protecting yourself. And specifically, we're talking about our YouFirst line of checking accounts that First United offers, and they come with this tool that many people in our market area have probably seen that says, "Powered by BaZing," on it. And your company helps with that, you provide that service to us, so tell us a little bit about BaZing and what that is?
Ryan: Yeah, so BaZing, it's our flagship product at StrategyCorpd, we actually rebrand this for our clients. So, you guys call it YouFirst, which is a great name, but YouFirst powered by BaZing, it's a collection of non-traditional banking benefits that we deliver through an easy to use app that we help mix in with your checking accounts so that your checking account becomes a vehicle for value via a lot of great savings. So, we have protection benefits, we have savings at local restaurants and local businesses, and we have other forms of savings as well. You know, checking accounts are very commoditized and a lot of people don't really see that a checking account is a vehicle for extra value-added savings but not in the case of First United and many other institutions throughout the country. BaZing, like I said, it is a way that community banks can go beyond traditional banking benefits and give back to their customers in some really great and relevant ways.
Eric: Yeah, we've had it now the YouFirst line of products for several years now and I know many customers have...we've got story after story of all those savings and security benefits that not only our employees have been able to enjoy, but our customers as well. And I know I've enjoyed a ton of them and I really enjoy the product, so I appreciate what you all do and what you help to provide for us. But before we get into some of those details, tell us what brought you to StrategyCorps, what's your background?
Ryan: What brought me to StrategyCorps? That's a great question. So, I've been working with community banks for 16 years, I got my teeth cut working with small, local, and even regional banks at Equifax. Yes, so I oversaw a very strategic product for them that was called credit marketing solutions, CMS internally, that's what they called it. Basically, we helped community banks with pre-approved marketing lists so that if you guys were looking to, you know, enhance auto loans or HELOC or mortgages, you guys get a pre-approved marketing list from Equifax that would be behind those. Also, the banks would look for a portfolio review, so if they were looking for refresh credit scores on their entire customer base so that they could know how much money to set aside for loan loss reserves, that's the type of analytics that they would get through Equifax. I did that, and I had a book of business specifically with community banks. After that, I went to work at a division of Fiserv called Bank Intelligence, which just helped banks basically with marketing.
Eric: Yeah, I used to use that.
Ryan: Yes, so I worked there for a long time. But after that, I went to a division of Deluxe financial services, the cheque printing company, they bought a FinTech called Bankers Dashboard, worked there for a while, and then now I've been at StrategyCorps for almost six years. So, my whole background and expertise is helping community banks with analytics and better decision-making. I was found through a recruiter for StrategyCorps, believe it or not, and then I just found myself interested in the company, its products, and its business model. And once I learned a little bit more about it, after working at huge mega-corporations, Equifax, Fiserv, Deluxe, I wanted to take a shot at working at a more privately held company, and what has been the best decision I've made in my career.
Eric: That's great. I'm happy for you. Yeah, and I think that well-roundedness certainly helps you to understand sort of what the industry looks like but also, you know, what community banks are facing and how they have to deal with the landscape as a whole. So, I appreciate that you've got that well-roundedness.
Ryan: Well, thank you.
Eric: So, let's talk a little bit about some of these features of BaZing that StrategyCorps helps with and provides to us for our YouFirst line of products, so let's start with some of the security and protection features. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about what those are and what they can do for them?
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. So, we do a lot of research, specifically with a company called the Cornerstone Advisors, to find out what people value in terms of benefits. And relating to the security and peace of mind benefits that we offer within YouFirst or BaZing, our flagship product at StrategyCorps, we have things like roadside assistance, you know, more than 80 million people subscribe to AAA, and so we've got an amazing roadside assistance program within BaZing. We also have cell phone protection, we know that everybody has smartphones, and more than half of people have insurance on their smartphones. So, in the event anybody has their phones broken or stolen, we will pay to have that phone repaired or replaced just via the benefits that you can get through your checking account at YouFirst.
And then we also have ID theft protection benefits, and so what's really nice about this is that if you become a victim of identity theft, then we'll assign you a professional to completely reconcile the situation. We also have some insurance benefits in there, so, you know, if you find yourself in court or need to miss work and access loss wages, you can tap into that. We also have some ID theft monitoring as well, so you can check it on your credit scores and manage your credit health. So, we have...those are what we call the Triple Threat Protection, very modern and relevant security and protection benefits that everybody who has BaZing will have access to. I'll just tell you a few quick stories around how our household has used these if it's okay with you, Eric.
Eric: Yeah, absolutely.
Ryan: So, I guess the one that resonates with me the most is cellphone protection. And not this summer but last, we have a back deck that stands up probably about 10 feet off the ground. And my daughter, she was carrying my wife's cell phone, she had it in her hand, she was trying to take a photo over the fence, she drops it, it falls onto the concrete like 10 feet below and then it completely shatters, it kind of looks like a spiderweb all across the phone. But because we had cell phone protection through BaZing, we were able to fix the phone and have that completely repaired, so it was a really great experience.
And then relating to the roadside assistance, what happened to us recently is that my mom...it's not my mom, my wife, she was talking to her mom on the phone late at night and she veered off the side of the road, hit a pothole, popped a tire, and she called roadside assistance right through the app and somebody was there in 45 minutes. My wife is one of those ladies that does not like to crack nails, much less change tires, but each occurrence, yeah, the first $80 is covered, so in our case, we didn't have to pay a penny, it was great.
Eric: That's excellent. Yeah, and your kids are younger, so I mean, just wait till they're teenagers and they're dropping their phones every day and cracking it all the time.
Ryan: Yeah, you're right, my kids, they're not old enough to have a cell phone but I say that when they do turn 20 and get their first cell phones, they will have to protect those too.
Eric: Absolutely. Yeah, no, they're phenomenal security and protection benefits and there are different levels within YouFirst that you can receive, so you can move up if you need more protections. So, you know, they're really powerful benefits and we've heard so many stories. If you visit mybank.com, you can find lots of stories, there are testimonials throughout the site where people have shared with us some of the great things that they've been able to save or be protected by because of those benefits, and roadside assistance and cell phone protection certainly pop up most frequently, I think, for a lot of people. So, they're really powerful things, so I appreciate that.
Ryan: Yeah, I mean, if you think about it, people pay, on average, around $100 a year for roadside assistance and then people pay around $100 a year on average per phone to protect their cell phones, and they pay around $100 a year to have their ID protected through companies like LifeLock, right? So, don't pay big prices at completely separate places, you can get it at one very low price, for instance, at First United or other banks around the country, and you can even get these benefits as a reward through the bank as well, which is cool.
Eric: Yeah, for having a relationship. Yeah, it's pretty incredible the amount of money that people are spending and not even realizing it because they've kind of adds up, right? They've got, like you mentioned, the AAA or the insurance through their cell phone to protect their phone. And you can get all of that and you may not think of it because it's with your checking account, it's not a...I guess it's not a normal thing that a lot of consumers probably think about, but that's what we were hoping to achieve when we were formulating the idea for the YouFirst checking accounts. We wanted to make sure that what we provided gave benefits beyond banking, like you mentioned, and this certainly checks that box.
Ryan: Yeah. And, you know, there is a really powerful thing going on in the modern economy, it's called the subscription society, right? Where 78% of the United States belongs to companies like Netflix, Spotify, Dollar Shave Club, Amazon Prime, that list could go on and on and on, and most people don't even know how many subscriptions they subscribe to. I don't, quite honestly, we have so many subscriptions. My boss actually told a funny story very recently where he said he was looking through his bank statements and then he found out that he was subscribing to the Rosetta Stone, and he was paying like $20 a month every single month for a year, not even knowing that he was subscribing to Rosetta Stone. Yeah, but the checking account, you know, with these value-added benefits is a very powerful way to save in a big way for you and your household.
Eric: Yeah, absolutely. Well, let's talk about some additional savings because it doesn't end there. I mean, you can certainly save money by canceling some of those insurances or security protections or whatever that you've subscribed to, but there's additional savings that can be had. Can you talk a little bit about those?
Ryan: Yes. So, my wife's personal favorite is actually our deals and discounts. So, within YouFirst powered by BaZing or within our product BaZing which we rebrand for our clients, it includes the nation's largest private discount network, so we have 450,000 deals and the network nationwide so that no matter where you live or work or travel, you're going to be surrounded by endless opportunities to save. Some ways that our family saves using the discount network, every single time we get pizza at Johnny's Pizza, which is right down the road, we get free pizza.
They have a buy one get one free coupon and one of the great things about the private nature of our network is that every single coupon can be used for an unlimited amount of time. So, literally every time we get pizza, we get free pizza because of BaZing, which is cool. My wife, she saves 20% on getting her nails done every single time she gets her nails done, I save $5 on my oil change, so we save in a big way at local merchants. But let me just tell you the biggest savings that we've ever had using BaZing via the discount network. So, it was a couple of months ago, my wife and I, we had to change four tires on a Honda Pilot.
Eric: Yeah, I'm sure it is.
Ryan: Yeah, and I'm not sure if anybody had to change four tires on an SUV lately, but for us, it was over $1,000. In our neck of the woods, in BaZing, we had Goodyear that was offering 10% off all tires. So, using that one coupon, we saved more than $100 in one transaction, it was awesome. So, yeah, we have the nation's largest private discount network, every single merchant in there has a contract and agreement with us, every single coupon can be used an unlimited amount of times, and it's just a really great way to save in fun ways at local businesses all throughout the country.
Eric: Yeah. Well, the thing that I have found so enjoyable about it is, I mean, because it is nationwide, not only do I find deals when I'm just around town if we're going out to eat, you know, we'll get a free appetizer, you know, at the local restaurant or we'll get, you know, 10% off of our meal or whatever it may be. But then we go on vacation and we save no matter where we go and it's really, really powerful, it just feels like, you know, I've just got this savings machine in my pocket, it's just this little app that's on my phone and it's just constantly saving me money. And the other really cool part about it is the pop-ups, the automatic alerts. So, can you talk a little bit about how that works?
Ryan: Yes, yes, but let me just say that I love what you said about the savings machine, I think I'm gonna steal that from you and call it as saving machine moving forward. Yes, we have every single one of our merchants' geofence, so you actually don't even need to be in the app searching for deals but the deals will present themselves to you in the form of a notification as you're right outside at the front door of these merchants, which is really great. A way that happened that I was able to use that is my wife and I, we were actually on a double date pretty recently in Atlanta, we were going to a place called Urban Pie with some friends. As we were walking up to Urban Pie, I was talking with my buddy, and then, ding, I got a notification and the deal was buy one medium pizza, get one medium pizza free.
So, another example of how I've saved with free pizza using these benefits. I eat more pizza than I should, maybe I should admit that in this conversation, but yeah, so it's a great way to have great reminders reminding that you can save when you shop. But here's the thing relating to these notifications, there's a huge spectrum of people who love them and others who view them as an annoyance, right? My mother-in-law loves the notifications, my father-in-law views them as an annoyance. And so, we give you the ability to completely customize it, you can turn them all off or you can make them very specific like you can say, "Hey, I just want to see the dining deals," or, "I want to see the dining and the shopping," so you can totally customize that.
Eric: Yeah, I was about to mention the same thing because the savings machine has an on/off button because, you know, driving in the same route every day, I see a deal...well, back before the pandemic and when I was driving to work every day, I would see these deals for tires, just like you mentioned, that there was a tire deal at this place that I would drive by every day. But I don't need tires every day, so I was able to mute that deal. So, I know it's there but it's muted so that when I drive past it, I don't get that alert every single time. But there are others where I want to know because I sometimes forget to look at the app, so it's nice to have that reminder, ding, you can save some money here when you're walking in the door at this restaurant.
Ryan: It is nice. A quick story, there was one time I was walking down New York City and I didn't have my notifications turned off, they were all on. I mean, I do this for a living and so I keep them all on all the time. And I got so many notifications, you know, my leg basically went numb as I was walking down New York City.
Eric: Because it's constantly vibrating.
Ryan: Yes, exactly.
Eric: Yeah, it's pretty cool and I have enjoyed so many of the savings there. And the really cool part that I don't want to miss the chance to talk about is the BaZing guarantee that comes along with those savings. So, if by chance you're out and you're at a restaurant and you show the waiter or waitress your coupon on the app and it doesn't work, there's a guarantee standing behind that, right?
Ryan: Yes, one of the great things about our discount network is that we have 450,000 deals and it's nationwide. One of the challenging things about our discount network is that we have 450,000 discounts and the network nationwide. So, you know, let's just say that you're at a restaurant and they have a deal with it, which is a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees. Well, if there's a new waitress and she chooses not to honor the coupon, that's okay, so you can quickly access what's called the BaZing Guarantee and you can take a photograph of the receipt, submit it to us, and then we're going to do two things. First, we're going to refund you the full amount of the discount that was not honored, and then secondly, since every single one of these merchants has a contract and agreement with us, we're going to reach out to that merchant and say, "Hey, are you still willing to honor this deal?" So, we're going to rectify that wrong. So, as you refer to, the BaZing Guarantee, this is how every single coupon gets redeemed even on the off chance it's declined at the front desk.
Eric: Right. And that's rare, I remember when we first started, it felt new, and maybe it was a combination of me, you know, having the app. I remember there were occasions where I was like, "Do you take this?" And, you know, I'll be like showing them the thing, and now it's commonplace. A lot of times, I've actually heard several of the waiters or waitresses or whomever at some of the restaurants say, "Oh, yeah, I've seen that before," and, you know, they know at this point and they're becoming more familiar with it in our local markets. Now, in the national markets, some of the places, I mean, it's just commonplace at this point but it's been a really cool and powerful thing. Speaking of local markets and the local businesses that you can get these discounts at, tell us a little bit about how local businesses can take advantage of that benefit? Is that something that pretty much anybody can join?
Ryan: Yes, and this is one of my favorite things about the product. Actually, it might help some small business owners in my family, and small businesses have been under some unique challenges over the year in the last year and a half for some very obvious reasons. So, any small business can participate in the discount network. What it becomes for them is basically free advertising, so it's a way for community banks to promote small businesses to their entire customer basically at no cost to help drive foot traffic, to increase volume, and to help give back to the small business community. So, like I said, there's no cost, it's totally free. So, if you're a small business and you want to participate in the discount network, by all means, you can do so. And, you know, community banks, to a large extent, they serve local businesses in addition to consumers, and so it's just a great way for those community banks to give back to the small business community and extend to them free advertising.
Eric: Absolutely. Yeah, and to become a part of that, if you're listening and you're a local business owner and you want to learn more about this, of course, you can always reach out to any sales associate at First United, talk a little bit about it with them, and get more details. Or you can just go to the website, go to mybank.com/youfirst, that's Y-O-U-F-I-R-S-T. And right on that page, right at the top, there's a gray button, a big gray button that says, "Business owners, join the app," and it will take you down and tell you a little bit about how you can join the discount network.
And like Ryan mentioned, it's free, you can fill out the form, you can become a part of it, you can offer different discounts. And I always like your story about how you can change your discounts too, right? You have a fun story that I think you mentioned sometimes of your local business and suddenly, a truck of potatoes falls in front of you and you want to offer french fries on this day, you can offer free french fries today. So, there are lots of ways that as a business owner, you can take advantage of it. And like you said, it's basically free advertising, you offer some sort of discount to people and you'll start getting those...those notifications will start popping up as they pass by your business.
Ryan: Right there on the mobile phone, exactly. You're exactly right.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, it's really cool. Well, before we wrap up, I want to talk a little bit about is there any new stuff coming? Can you give our listeners a sneak peek of anything new you think might be of interest to them?
Ryan: Yes, so we have a brand new benefit that is just releasing now, it's called Billshark, it's amazing. Billshark is owned by Mark Cuban and what it is, it's a bill subscription negotiation service. So, what you can do is you can submit your cellphone bills, your cable bills, your satellite radio bills, your home security bills, you can submit these various bills to Billshark and they're going to go out there and negotiate you a better rate on your behalf. We have already done that in our household with Verizon. We have a couple of family members that work at Verizon, actually, so we got a great deal on our Verizon plan, but we still submitted our bill to Billshark and they actually found us an unadvertised plan and we're saving $21 a month on our cell phone through Billshark.
So, there's a lot of people out there that I'm sure would be willing to admit that they're probably paying more than they should for their cell phone plan, right? It's a hassle to negotiate, people just, you know, end up putting that off and paying more than they should. So, moving forward, you can just submit those kind of bills to Billshark and make sure that your utilities are as streamlined as possible. So, it's a really great benefit, we have it now launching very soon, so be on the lookout for that at First United.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we're working through the details right now and hopefully here in the next couple of months, our customers will get to enjoy the benefits of Billshark and some of the things...the savings that they can find there. So, Ryan, I want to thank you again. Do you have any final thoughts before we wrap up?
Ryan: Yes, you know, oftentimes, I think that consumers, they don't really perceive the checking account as a vehicle for value but that's not true. The checking account can be a great vehicle for a lot of value, it certainly is true at First United Bank & Trust. So, a lot of great benefits that can create a lot of amazing savings for you and your household, and you can even experience these benefits as a reward, you don't have to pay anything for them, completely free if you carry a big enough relationship. But even if you decide to pay a small fee for this type of account, I'd say that it is very much a better than free checking account because of the value that it contains. You'll save way more than any type of small, modest subscription fee that you might pay for these types of benefits. So, I think that's the only thing I think that would say in parting.
Eric: Yeah. No, great. And, you know, it's funny, we didn't even talk about the health savings that you can get. So, I mean, there are so many things baked in to this checking account that it just makes it such a powerful tool. And like I said, it's like a savings machine, right? So, if anyone is interested and wants to learn more, of course, you can stop by any of our offices, you can visit our website, mybank.com/checking to see all the variety of YouFirst accounts that are available so you can learn more about those. Or you can, of course, stop in an office or give us a call and any of our folks will be happy to talk about all the benefits that you can receive there. So, Ryan Harbry, regional director of sales and consulting at StrategyCorps, I want to sincerely thank you once again for joining me today and providing such helpful insights.
Ryan: Thank you, Eric. It was a pleasure.
Eric: Absolutely. That brings us to the end of our show. You can always find more episodes by visiting mybank.com/podcast or find us on your favorite podcast app and we're on basically all of them, so find the one that you enjoy and subscribe. You can also leave us feedback, ask questions, or request a topic for us to discuss by sending an email to [email protected] Thanks again for listening. We'll be back next week with more helpful content but until then, we wish you the best and focusing on what matters most to you.
Man 1: Wait, dinner's on me tonight.
Man 2: Nah, we can split the bill if you want.
Man 1: No, I got this, I bank with First United.
Man 2: What does where you bank has to do with who pays for dinner?
Man 1: My YouFirst Platinum checking comes with the YouFirst app powered by BaZing, so I get discounts on all my favorite restaurants and stores, so tonight's on me.
Man 2: I'm not gonna turn down that offer. I didn't know banks did that.
Man 1: My bank does.
Singer: First United, my bank for life.
Eric: Member FDIC, equal housing lender. This recording is for informational purposes only. Any references in this recording to any person, organization, product, or service does not constitute or imply the endorsement, recommendation, or affiliation with First United Bank & Trust. First United is not responsible for your use of the information mentioned within this podcast. Please consult legal or tax professionals for counsel as needed.