Building a New Branch for Financial Institutions: Strategy & Execution
by admin on September 28, 2023
A well-executed branch plan can yield numerous positive outcomes for financial institutions, such as enhanced customer experiences, increased operational efficiency, and sustainable growth.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of branch planning for banks and credit unions. From strategic considerations to real-world impacts and location strategies, we'll provide insights and best practices to help financial institutions make informed decisions when building new branches or renovating existing spaces.
Understanding Branch Planning for Banks and Credit Unions
Effective and thoughtful planning is the key to successful branch and business expansion for financial institutions. The way a branch is planned has tangible, real-world impacts that extend far beyond the boardroom. It directly influences the experiences of consumers and members, the satisfaction of employees, and the well-being of your communities served.
By harnessing local resources and tailoring strategies to the specific needs of your nearby communities, financial institutions can establish a deeper and more meaningful connection with the immediate world around them. When planning a new branch or remodeling an existing space, it is recommended by experts to make thoughtful choices on what resources you use – small, locally-owned resources will position you as a pivotal and welcome community member.
When it comes to your location strategy, critical decisions such as whether to purchase or lease, opt for a mall-based or standalone branch, and the alignment of deposit and loan growth requirements are important considerations. Consulting with experts in the financial branch space is a great way to ensure your location strategy aligns with business and community growth goals.
Traffic patterns, market analysis, and even the implementation of leave-behind ITM strategies also come into play. These factors collectively shape the success and impact of branches.
Hear from The Element Group, a leading provider of design-build-implementation services for financial institutions, as they collaborate with us in a panel-style conversation to explore best practices for new and existing branch spaces.
Strategic Planning Basics for Financial Institutions
Designing modern and functional branch spaces includes consideration of the following:
The addition of new hardware – Outdated fleets that provide slow service, high downtimes, and poor consumer experiences should be left behind when planning and designing a new branch space. Considering upgraded hardware for your fleet will position your branch space for success with smoother operational efficiencies and higher uptimes.
Reliable first and second-line service – ATM/ITM up-times are something your consumers count on when stopping by a branch. Service is also an important consideration for security patches, branding and marketing screen updates, and quick responses to skimming attempts. Choosing a hardware and service partner with fast, reliable service is imperative to keep your fleet running smoothly and your branch visitors satisfied.
Remote Management Solution (RMS) - Implementation of RMS for hardware provides financial institutions with up-to-the-minute data on their ATM/ITM and TCR fleets, allowing for hands-off incident management and software updates. Higher up-times result in more profits from transaction fees, more repeat business from your consumers, and new acquisitions as word spreads of your fleet’s reliability and functionality. RMS also makes cash monitoring more efficient, allows the installation of software patches without leaving the office, and monitors service incidents in real-time. FTSI’s RMS ATM availability software gives financial institutions a detailed look at their fleet’s status, helping them to make informed management decisions.
ITM best practices – The future of banking lies with self-service options for consumers. With NCR’s ESS, financial institutions can connect their ATMs/ITMs directly to their core for more operational efficiency and a better, self-serve consumer experience. Also consider that ITMs are most successfully located in the drive-up, remote kiosks with high visibility, or inside 24-hour branch vestibules. ITMs are also shown to be highly utilized when they are distributed prominently across the retail network and in proximity to a recently closed branch site.
“ITMs and our branch transformation strategy have allowed us to expand our footprint and branch presence in the greater Houston marketplace in a cost-effective manner. We were able to scale down the square footage of the branch, gain efficiency in staffing, and expand our brand presence. Our loyal member-owners are constantly requesting more branches in new areas.”
Taylor Hebert | Chief Experience Officer
Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union
Security for bank and credit union branches - Securing your new branch or revisiting your current security strategy includes the following considerations: Access control, video surveillance, physical security (gates, barriers, ATM armor, etc.), ATM protections, alarm monitoring, and anti-skimming.
Digital strategies for bank and credit union branches - Powering your financial institution with innovative fintech is necessary to grow and retain your consumer base. By providing accessible, seamless experiences with modern digital solutions, consumers can stay engaged with products and services from the comfort of their own homes or on the go.
Aligning your internal teams for branch success - Have you ever had a great idea for innovation at your organization that ended up meeting resistance from your team? You’re not alone! Replay our webinar on aligning for innovation to explore further and prepare your team for success in a new or existing branch. Our speakers include Seth Schaefer, CEO of Rivermark Credit Union, Chary Krout, Co-Owner and Partner at Cultivate, and Lisa Huertas, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer and Executive Vice President at FTSI, as they provide practical strategies and actionable steps to execute innovation alignment effectively.
“We know that the way our members interact with our branch staff is changing, and it was important for us to give our members the same personal service but with more flexible hours and greater access to our specialized expertise.”
Rivermark Community Credit Union
Evolution of Retail Banking and the Implications
Experts encourage new and remodeled branch plans to place a primary focus on understanding the evolution of retail banking and its profound implications. The dynamics of retail banking are continually shifting, and comprehending the nature and magnitude of these changes is paramount.
It entails not only recognizing evolving consumer behaviors and preferences, but also understanding the disruptive forces reshaping the industry. Equipped with this insight, bank and credit union executives can develop strategies that position their institutions effectively in this changing landscape. Retail banking today should focus on customer engagement and tailoring experiences to meet the demands of a banking environment where convenience, personalization, and digital integration hold pivotal roles.
Fostering an innovative, futuristic mindset can launch banks and credit unions into success, as they will be more apt to meet consumer needs, demands, and expectations. Financial institutions tend to fall into one of two mindsets – futuristic, or future shock.
Embracing Digital Innovations: Signage and Technology
Maximizing the potential of digital signage in any new or existing branch can bring your digital experience into your brick-and-mortar spaces. A digital signage strategy can reinforce your branding along with any promotions, marketing campaigns, brand news, and more. Digital signage for banks and credit unions can include media players, looping DVD players, and interactive solutions with touchscreens, LED push buttons, motion sensors, proximity sensors, weight sensors, QR codes, scanners, contactless remote-controlled screens, and RFID tags.
Along with integrating your brand’s digital and in-branch experiences, a marketing and branding screen strategy for your ATMs/ITMs can get more interaction at the terminals where people are already giving their full attention.
Creating a consistent look throughout your website, mobile apps, branch, and fleet appeals to consumers and further reinforces your brand. Marketing and branding screens give the option for custom backgrounds, custom buttons, your brand’s font family and color, a custom receipt header logo, helper animations, and more. This is an opportunity to educate current and potential members/consumers with current promotions and updates without compromising on creative design and branding.
Elevating Expertise: Staying Ahead of the Curve
Once your branch is up and running, it’s imperative to take proactive steps to anticipate and adapt to industry trends. What consumers expect today may be very different in just a few months. To avoid falling behind, keep your team engaged and excited about innovative solutions, ideas, and opportunities that can further drive your branch towards lasting, sustainable success.
Finally, ensure your team is consistently utilizing insights, listening to consumer/member feedback, staying alert in your community, and taking any actionable steps when needed.
“In my experience, FTSI has not occupied the role of a traditional vendor, they have been a trusted advisor during our branch transformation journey from its conception to implementation and beyond. We did not just purchase a product from them, we formed a partnership with a trusted advisor. The people at FTSI are what make the difference, it has been a pleasure to work with the FTSI team, from the executive level, the project managers, the sales team, and the service techs in the field.”
Taylor Hebert | Chief Experience Officer
Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union
“FTSI overall have been such an amazing partner through the whole ITM implementation process. My entire team talks about what an amazing service provider you have been, and your team deserves huge kudos. What lands at the top of my list when it comes to partner relationships is that you never over-promised and under-delivered! We’ve had SO many vendors who make promises or answer questions incorrectly just because they want a sale or want to sound like a ‘know it all.’ That is not you nor anyone else we’ve dealt with at FTSI! You all have been advocates for us and connected us to resources that have helped make this journey less painful! This was a HUGE decision on our part and one we have often questioned was the right path but, with FTSI’s guidance, we feel we’ve made the right one! We all look forward to growing our ‘fleet’ J of ITMs with the continued support from FTSI!”
Charlotte Nemec | President/CEO
Canopy Credit Union
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