When you first engage with an architect for your new bank branch, what do you need to know? There are some components that go into starting a bank that need to be out in the open from the beginning. These include your culture, customer demographics, services and vision.
1. Your Culture
A bank’s culture is more than just its people. Culture also includes a bank’s mission and values. In a way, it’s your culture that guides your people. Both employees and customers learn about who you are, which helps them understand why they do business with you.
Even if the way you portray your culture isn’t obvious to bank customers, visitors and community members, they will still experience your culture when they visit your branch. Branches built around a culture, or set of core concepts, ends up being something customers can really feel when they visit. The culture is directly tied to the customer experience.
2. Your Customer Demographics
Who are your customers? If there’s one thing to say about successful branches, it’s that they have a clear understanding of their customer base. Nowadays, the financial market is more competitive than ever, but understanding who their customers are gives community branches an edge. People from different generations, neighborhoods and socioeconomic backgrounds have different financial goals and interests. For example, the branch design and customer experience will be different if it's an ag bank vs. a business bank.
3. Your Services
Determining your culture and your demographics will also help in determining which services your branch will be providing. As a bank, it might seem obvious what services you’ll provide, but one of the ways neighborhood banks set themselves apart is through the services they offer. After all, different types of banks offer different types of services. For example, whether your bank is consumer, commercial, business, or investment-focused will impact which services you offer.
There are smaller decisions to be made about the services your branch will offer, too. Take, for instance, loans. Banks may offer personal loans, commercial or business loans and home or property loans as part of their primary offering. Banks also offer insurance, investments, and wealth management services.
Some other services to consider are facilitating fund transfers, offering notary republic services to customers and ATM/ITM services. What services will your branch offer?
4. Your Vision
The final piece to bring into initial conversations with a bank architecture firm is the vision you have for your new branch. This can be a little tricky for some, but know that your full vision doesn’t have to be completely fleshed out. It’s enough to have a general idea of your vision, knowing that meeting with your architect will help flesh things out.
Typically, a client’s vision is partially formed from the first three items on this list: their culture, customer demographics and services, but that’s not where it ends. A vision is also shaped by the experience a client wants to create. It comes from answer questions like,
- How do you want customers to feel when they visit this branch?
- What words should describe the customer experience your branch provides?
- How do you want customers to use your facility (transaction-based or relationship-based)?
Answering questions like these will help you to create a more complete vision of the branch you’re going to create. When you bring these items into conversation with your bank architect, they’re going to combine it with their experience and expertise to get your project started on the right foot.
My recommendation is to choose an architect that specializes in bank architecture. They can take your vision and melt it with the right trends and technology for your facility.