3 Step Guide For A Successful Branch Project

by Ben La Macchia, Senior Vice President

Published: Monday, January 17th, 2022

It’s time to expand your branch network’s reach and you've identified that you need an expert to start the conversation with. A handful of factors often come into play when thinking about your stakeholders and the critical questions you must ask. Who is your target audience? Where do they live? Is it better to build new or renovate? And what business partner will understand your unique challenges and opportunities? These may seem like loaded questions, but they are indeed questions that you need to ask.

However, the goals and objectives must be narrowly defined before shovels hit dirt! Here are our three steps to planning your next branch project – successfully.

1. Due Diligence.

Planning for success sounds obvious, but it must be done right and isn’t always that instinctive ... and it certainly is not a series of 'yes' or 'no' decisions. The research and planning phase is the most involved part of the process, and without the right in-house resources to inform you, making the wrong strategic move could cost your financial institution millions of dollars over a lifetime.

To effectively make the right move for your organization you'll need the right data points; market demographics and economic trends. Many traditional financial institutions partner with data vendors that dump data on them with no real insight or recommendations, giving a “pre-packaged analysis” at best. The real question is, do you want data or decisions?

Why Due Diligence Matters.

In 2015, Carter Credit Union and La Macchia Group kicked off a Master Planning Analysis to examine Carter Credit Union’s current branch network and potential deployment opportunities to facilitate the next stage of the Credit Union’s growth. What resulted from that 2015 analysis was incredible. A successful rebrand, the revitalization of an existing branch, and a beautiful new administrative center propelled Carter Credit Union to new heights. The tremendous growth and community attention now has the Carter team returning to La Macchia Group in 2022 to update the Master Planning Analysis for continued success in the future.

It has never been more important than now for financials to invest time and resources up front, growing new customer relationships and a better long-term ROI. 

2. Create The Best User Journey.

Creating an engaging experience goes far beyond just having a presence in the neighborhood. Every touchpoint your customer has, whether digitally or in the branch for the first time, must be cohesive, welcoming, and make that individual feel like they belong. Here are some simple things to consider when thinking about your user’s journey:

  • Is your messaging consistent across digital and physical channels?
  • Are you engaging with visitors through digitally interactive experiences once you have them in the branch?
  • Do your employees embody the brand?

Try This Exercise.

Put together an internal committee. This might be a mixture of staff from the front and back of your office; Tellers, Loan Officers, Loan Originators, Branch Managers, and your marketing and customer experience teams. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and identify as many touchpoints possible - or - role play as if someone from your team is a customer coming in for an appointment or a simple transaction. Doing this exercise will open your eyes up to things you haven't noticed about your brand, how your facility is laid out, and the marketing messages you're displaying.

Creating a journey that takes your customer through an experience worth remembering ultimately brings them back for more. Today, it’s not enough to have a functional space lacking human connection and emotion. What matters is what you’re doing before, during, and after consumers interact with you.

Community Banking Elevated.

In 2020, Williamstown Bank introduced a new way of banking to Parkersburg, West Virginia. President & CEO, Sharon Anderson, wanted to move towards an approach that integrated technology, branded content, and great customer service all in one. Their unique vision, now translated into reality, has not only allowed them to grow during a pandemic, but has helped them create stronger bonds with their customers and the community.

3. Choose The Right Partner.

There’s no doubt financial leaders face a multitude of challenges. Everything from cyber security to keeping up with regulations, and the constant pressure to respond to consumer wants and needs while remaining competitive is quite the juggle.

More than ever, financial leaders are expected to make more important decisions with less time and even less room for error. If there’s an area within your organization lacking the proper resources at a critical time when growth and retention are necessary, a well-rounded and experienced team is the right answer. Oftentimes when financials need to take on the next stage of growth or pivot and do something different, it’s never one problem that needs solving. That’s why a team who can guide you through the due diligence, provide the best design/build solutions, and elevate your brand will deliver the best bang for your buck.

Your Next Step.

Let this guide navigate you and your team to the next successful chapter of your future. What you do beyond step three is critical and should get you naturally thinking about what immediate problems need solutions and the best partner to help you start on the right foot.

For further insights, download our full guide to start the conversation between you and your team:

 

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Benjamin La Macchia - Senior Vice President of La Macchia Group

Benjamin La Macchia | La Macchia Group

Benjamin La Macchia is Senior Vice President of La Macchia Group and serves as the in-house licensed real estate broker and site development coordinator. Ben obtained his degree in Finance, Investment and Banking from the University of Wisconsin and worked as a trader for some of the nation's leading commodity trading firms. His wealth of knowledge in finance coupled with his background as a trader has enabled him to act as a reliable analyst and powerful negotiator for financial institutions.

 

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