They make for great photo spreads and probably a decent PR hook in local and regional publications, but what's the true value of a "branch of the future" makeover for your bank or credit union? The most important thing to remember when undertaking a redesign is to not get lost in focusing solely on style and forget the substance—function is just as important as form in this avenue. The first step is knowing your audience and who your lowest-hanging fruit are before jumping right into "youthifying" your space needlessly.
Here are just a few of the ways you can futurize your branches in highly functional, practical ways.
What do consumers love about their favorite retailers? While convenience, technology and access are all major factors in consumer selection, another is personalization. Keeping in mind that the people who walk through your doors have completely unique needs and goals, why not put a little more effort into segmentation—even physically, in your branches? Say your community has a major university—dedicate an area of your space to college students, including coffee drinks and a "concierge"teller who specializes in student lending, starter savings and other applicable products. Or perhaps you occupy a growth area where property development is booming—dedicate an area of your space to first-time homeowners, complete with interactive "exhibits" that educate on the homebuying process and a "concierge" teller who knows the ins and outs of mortgage lending. Create branch space with clear, direct pathways for people to find answers to their own unique questions.
With an array of property on your hands and less foot traffic to occupy it, filling up branches with bodies may seem less and less feasible. But one particular way of grabbing a few extra occupants is to redevelop empty offices and unused conference rooms into co-working and co-habitation spaces for fledgling business startups and organizations. As small-scale companies struggle to get off the ground, one of the biggest sticking points can be dedicated space—something that banks and credit unions tend to have in spades in their least-used branch buildings. Offer up a reasonable price point for consistent space usage of "membership" and package it with your commercial lending products to really build up a stronger business element to your portfolio.
It may seem like a small (or misplaced) gesture to inject more arts focus into your banking branches, but in order to build out a stronger base of young traffic into your brick-and-mortar locations, showing an investment in the arts is a good proposition. Gen-Z is the first demo to have grown up in the YouTube era, where creation and composition has taken on a whole new meaning. As such, showing your support for local artists and makers, as well as potentially providing space for them to create, could open up new prospects to your sales team. Try out offering studio space with basic lighting equipment in an unused office or meeting area to test out interest—and regardless, you'll now have a great location to shoot some in-house demos or tutorials with your most captivating staff members. And take part in the local arts scene—showcase talent in your spaces and host events with startup and Gen-Z-popular food and drink vendors to drive this point home even further.
When you trot through an airport, it's hard not to be curious about those "member lounges" ensconced behind clouded glass with unknown perks and exclusive access. (Makes you want to be a "member," right?) Well, you can apply this same level of mystique to your banking customer base, as well. Dedicate an area of your branches to customer-exclusive experiences, whether it's the aforementioned co-working space, community meeting rooms, complimentary beverages, high-speed wi-fi or even convenience services, such as an Amazon locker.