Even though it is the 21st century, there are many financial institutions that still portray an image of the 1980’s or 90’s. I have visited hundreds of financial institutions throughout my career and I am still amazed at how many organizations neglect or push off improvements to their facilities; though, in many circumstances I can understand why. For example, if you have been with an organization for a long time, it's easy to become numb to your environment. You may not even realize the age or condition of your surroundings. If you've been coming in to that same space every day for years, it probably feels comfortable and current. When you see the same thing day after day, it can be hard to break the mold of your routine and recognize that things have become stale, dated, and need some attention.
Image and atmosphere is not the only reason a remodel may be necessary for your organization (though it is an important one, with reasons I'll leave to cover in another blog). Economic implications should also play into your decision to remodel; factors such as increased expenses and the cost of inefficiencies should be taken into account. Asking these questions is a good start:
- Is your bottom line each month affected by inefficiencies by the layout of your space?
- Do you have underutilized space in your facility that could be used more effectively?
- Do you feel like you are falling behind your competition?
Some of these questions are easier to answer than others; and, a financial architect can help with this type of assessment. But these economic factors often provide financial justification for a remodel (save you money, make you more money, etc.), which can be helpful in determining when it's time to remodel your financial institution.
But wait, there's more questions you can ask to help you get a more definitive answer.
Questions to Answer to Determine if a Remodel is Needed
Take a tour around your organization and really SEE what's in your space. Asking these questions will help:
- When you move furniture do you have two different shades of carpet?
- Are you waiting for your interior finishes to come back into style instead of updating them?
- Does your equipment have brand names from companies that no longer exist?
- Are you using scotch tape to hold up the corners of your wall paper?
- Are your main doors too far away for the transaction area?
- Do you have to double up on staff because your drive-up is not adjacent to your teller line?
- Do you have staff positioned on multiple floors?
To further help you make the remodeling decision, close your eyes (after you are done reading this). Imagine a potential new client moving to your town. At some point, he or she will be looking for the services you offer. How will you earn his/her business?
- Does your organization stand out enough to attract this individual with your current image?
- Is your brand awareness strong in the community that gets you to be noticed and recommended by others?
- What encourages this individual to walk into your facility; and if they do, will they turn right back around and walk out or stay a while?
Okay, open your eyes. Are you satisfied with your answers?
It all comes down to one simple question: does your financial institution convey an image that says you can provide all the financial services an individual will need, in the way that they want them?
What Does Your Visual Appearance Communicate?
People want to be part of an organization that is vibrant and current with today’s trends. While it can sound materialistic, I believe your appearance communicates the expertise, personality, and service level of your financial institution. Are you bright or dingy? Happy or depressed? Loud or quiet? Energetic or solemn. The list goes on. Your visual representation should attract people in to your facility, then your team can take over and confirm the prospective customer's assumptions.
If you care enough to visually stay current, then it is likely that your products and services follow suit. Most financial institutions provide the same products and level of service, so you need to use your appearance and brand recognition to stand out among the crowd. Then, once you get people in the door, your team members assume the responsibility and begin to build a relationship - which is the important part. But, getting to that point where you have the opportunity to show your value is the hard part in today's market.