4 Modern Credit Union Branch Must-Haves
Many branch strategies are more experimental than practical, but experts said the most forward-thinking credit unions are embracing several key must-haves to keep their branches competitive.
1. Small footprints. The average branch is 2,116 square feet, according to a recent study by the Louisville, Ky.-based digital marketing firm Codigo. But Mark Charette, CEO of the Bloomfield, Conn.-based Solidus, which specializes in branch construction, said many projects his firm sees these days are 800 to 1,500 square feet.
John Smith, CEO of the Chandler, Ariz.-based DBSI, which also specializes in branch construction, said his firm is designing locations as small as 400 square feet.
“If you're needing 4,000 square feet or 4,500 square feet, guess what? You're not going to get close to the consumer,” Smith explained.
2. Touch screens. Paper brochures and posters don’t work, Smith said.
“No one looks at a brochure,” he said. “The stuff on the walls becomes static. The people at the front line, they don't want to ask any questions. They think they're butting into the privacy of the member.”
The information typically in brochures is better offered on screens that are front and center in the branch, Smith noted. Screens near waiting areas should highlight the credit union’s mission, community efforts and how it makes members’ lives easier, because that’s where new, onboarding members often sit.
Touch screens aren’t just for large credit unions, either. The Laramie, Wyo.-based UniWyo Federal Credit Union, which has $271 million in assets and about 24,000 members, recently made the move when it took over a 20-year-old former bank space. UniWyo extensively renovated the place, which included purging paper brochures from the lobby, Vice President of Marketing Mindy Uitterdyk explained.
3. No more velvet ropes. “Consumers are, for the most part, uncaring about whether or not a bank branch has a cafe-style environment and report it has no influence on their decision of where they bank,” TimeTrade said in its report.
But they do care about whether they have to stand in line – 64% of respondents said they’re only willing to wait less than 10 minutes at a branch.
For UniWyo, traditional teller lines were among the first things to go during its renovation. Pods now stand underneath an atrium area; private meetings take place in corner glass offices, Uitterdyk said.
4. Shorter transactions. Modern branches do everything possible to make simple transactions take as little time as possible. The Marlborough, Mass.-based Digital Federal Credit Union, for example, streamlined transactions with e-teller technology – a decision that was part of the $6.8 billion, 545,000-member credit union’s branch transformation effort, according to Regional/Branch Operations Manager Michael Caissey.
“By not having to manually put in information from the checks and having to do that data entry piece of it, by just scanning and doing a couple of clicks, that frees up the conversation to talk about other things,” he said.
For more details on how credit unions can modernize their branch strategy, read the May 4, 2016 print issue of Credit Union Times.