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MANCHESTER, Mo. – The branch is ready to once again take center stage in credit unions’ strategic plans. According to a Datamonitor report entitled Branch Renewal in U.S. Retail Banking, not only will financial institutions transform the role and layout of branches, but they will also leverage the face-to-face nature of branch interaction in a bid to increase member value. With the competition building more and more branches, credit unions are turning to a design/build technique dubbed “component building”. Here is how it works: The core and shell of the branch facility is built off-site in a controlled environment factory. The components are then transported to the desired location, lifted by cranes and assembled complete with finishing touches within six months or less. The freestanding branches can range in size from 3,000 to 14,000 square feet and include features such as ATMs and drive-thrus. According to Kevin Blair, president of design/build firm NewGround Resources Inc., no one can tell the difference between a component or standard branch. “It’s different than the image most people have of a building that resembles a trailer without the wheels,” said Blair. “These are regular facilities that can be customized and built in a fraction of the time. We’ve been doing this process for over 25 years and recently there has been a tremendous upsurge in the number of credit unions building these types of branches,” According to Blair, by moving the ribbon-cutting up six months credit unions can increase their return-on-investment an estimated $60,000 to $70,000 just by establishing a relationship with the neighborhood before the competition can. “While they are still wearing hard hats, you’re opening up accounts for everyone in the neighborhood,” said Blair. “At a time when so many national banks are changing brands and their long-time customers are back up for grabs speed is a major concern.” Over the next year as many as 50% of the new facilities are being delivered through component building at a comparable cost to standard building. According to Blair since the architectural designs for component branches are done by computer based on a pre-set list of designs credit unions generally save 3-5% representing an estimated $40,000 to $80,000 on the project. Blair says while requests have come from around the country he’s hearing from many smaller credit unions. “One small credit union was evicted from its building in September and by December of the same year they were settled in their own branch and hosting their grand opening in a new location,” said Blair. “Another credit union in the Dallas market found out that Bank of America and Washington Mutual plan to open branches next to their latest site and now wants to beat them to the market. Instead of putting all the pressure on your marketing team to push the brand why not accelerate your presence on the ground?” [email protected]

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