bank exterior

Choosing a new site to build your bank can feel like a game of dice. 

With so many different variables rolling around, it can be nerve-racking to think that the success of your financial building is left to chance. 

But what if you could load the dice to ensure that you got the best possible roll every time? 

Playing with actual rigged dice is unethical, sure—but metaphorically loading the dice by using the best combination of location factors to guarantee your new bank's success, well, that’s just good strategy. 

You rarely hear of Starbucks or McDonald’s closing one of their stores because they aren’t getting enough business. That’s because they have teams that understand exactly what it takes to pick a perfect spot that will rake in revenue.

Don’t gamble on the success of your next bank site. Here are six factors you should consider that can either make or break the bank.


Surrounding Community

Before you build, you’ll want to get a solid understanding of the community around your potential build site. That preparation isn’t just a game-changer — it’s a game-winner.

A site selection survey can provide useful insights as to how many people live near your proposed location, and where they tend to spend their money. 

200721_RBCU_0247Your area of business may look different if the property is in a residential spot than it would in an urban area. When doing research on a suburban location, survey the community that lies within a 15-minute drive from the site. This is the distance most people don’t mind traveling in order to fulfill their basic daily needs.

In a more urban area, make sure that you survey communities near public transportation and heavy foot traffic. Regardless of the landscape, running to the bank should be a quick and easy trip — not a time-consuming excursion to the other side of town.

Remember that your new bank needs to enrich the community, so prioritize locations where your financial institution will make a positive impact — and demonstrate genuine care for its customers.


Household Income

Information regarding average household income is a golden insight into whether or not your bank will succeed in a given community.

For example, an area made of mostly young families starting their financial lives together will need a retail bank that offers personal loans to help them with car payments, mortgages and education. On the other hand, a wealthier area may need access to a commercial bank that can provide them with business loans to launch entrepreneurial endeavors.

It’s also important to note that wealthier households tend to favor banks, while families with lower or median incomes prefer to use credit unions. Use this information to determine whether or not your financial institution is a good fit for the area in question.


Proximity to retail

How many times have you needed to deposit a check or grab some cash, but the nearest bank was just far enough away to be frustratingly inconvenient? Probably too many.

If your new location is close to places that people already go for their shopping or errands, they are more likely to use your bank rather than one they have to go out of their way to find. Look for building sites near malls, restaurant hubs or business parks—places where people are more likely to need financial assistance before their visit.

Positioning yourself right in the middle of a consumers’ to-do list will make your location the logical choice for their day-to-day banking needs.



WNB Exterior BuildingCustomers are most likely to seek out the path of least effort when deciding where to bank. It’s simple: the easier it is to get to your location, the more people will choose to use your services. Consider locations right off major roadways with good traffic flow and always choose a site that allows for a drive-up lane. This is a non-negotiable factor if you want your bank to be successful — our modern, convenience-based culture practically demands it. 

A drive-up window also increases the number of customers that can be served at one time. Decreased wait times lead to happy customers, and happy customers lead to money in your pocket.



“The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and the bank that makes itself known with good signage and advertising gets more customers.

Look into local zoning ordinances to see which locations will allow for roadside advertising and find out if they have regulations on how big your sign can be. You’ll also want to make sure your sign is visible to traffic on both sides of the street and that it is easy to read from a distance as it may only be seen for a few seconds as people drive by. 

The placement of your sign is just as important as the location of the building itself. It determines how many people will become aware of your branch and come to investigate your services as new customers. 


Make the smart call.

If you’re considering expanding your business with a new build, contact one of our architects and take advantage of our nine-point site selection model that has proven successful for more than 2,500 financial buildings over the past 50 years. 

With our expertise in financial industry building design, we can take the gamble out of site selection and help you find a location that’s sure to win big.


Bank design begins with your vision. Get Your Workbook

Published on June 28, 2021

Topics: New Construction, Bank Construction, Bank Design, Financial Architecture, Credit Union Architecture, Building a Bank

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