How to Build a Rightsized & Resilient Branch Network, Part II

More insights from Adrenaline’s CXO Gina Bleedorn and her presentation “Retail Resurgence: Designing a Rightsized and Resilient Branch Network” at Future Branches Boston

Comerica Bank Northwestern Prototype Case Study Exterior

Resilient Branching at a Glance: 

  • The first step for resilience is to start by assessing the branches you already have in your network 
  • Branch assessment will give you the intelligence you need to save and spend as optimally as possible 
  • The branch channel has four purposes – efficiency, loyalty, cross-sell, and acquisition 

As people’s perception of the branch channel shifts from transactions to advice, financial institutions must find a way to efficiently and effectively transform their retail networks to meet consumer expectations for experiences. In Part I of our series on building a rightsized and resilient branch network, we focused on the rightsized portion of the formula. From developing a North Star to capturing critical mass, understanding how your branch network can capitalize on perceived convenience is essential for institutions of all sizes.  

Building in resilience is just as crucial. “The best way to be resilient is actually to start with what you already have,” says Gina Bleedorn in her recent presentation at Future Branches in Boston. “This is a step so many clients don’t take – which is akin to market research or analytics – but it’s an assessment of your own branch network.” In this process, banks and credit unions take an inventory of existing branches and then analyze, score and benchmark locations against each other.  

In this branch analysis, you’ll evaluate: 

  • What are the conditions of the facilities?  
  • What is the exterior vs. the interior?  
  • What are retail communications doing? 
  • How does each zone function?  

“This is going to give you the intelligence you need to spend as optimally as you can, based on what you already have in your network,” according to Gina. “It’s assessing the current state of your network’s health and then thinking about future forward.” Next, you’ll evaluate the core purpose of the branch channel, specific to your institution. The branch channel has four overarching purposes – efficiency, loyalty, cross-sell, and acquisition.  

“Efficiency and loyalty are very much focused on saving channel migration and of course reducing staff and square footage, but then cross-sell and advocacy are focused on growth,” according to Gina. She says that the idea is to determine what you want each branch to do, where it’s ideally situated, and how that purpose changes over time.” The ultimate goal is to save and grow at the same time, or even more, identify where you can save so you can reinvest elsewhere and grow.”  

“A North Star experience isn’t just a branch, it’s the new embodiment of experience that then extends into multiple formats,” says Gina. To maximize the North Star, institutions must move away from siloed thinking which has organizations making decisions separately and not bringing things together. “With Comerica Bank, we brought it all together so that a new drive-thru with the ITM rollout, the new mobile branch experience, and all of the interiors start to look cohesive and connected.”  

Building a rightsized and resilient branch network begins to take shape as you implement a North Star strategy. “You start with a strategic plan – you prototype it, pilot it, document and iterate – all the while thinking about what that future state is,” says Gina. This process incorporates updated thinking to better each subsequent version. “As you go into each new wave, you document and iterate – learning as you go, and what happens is that you can get faster and get more done.”   

To learn more about network transformation strategies for your bank or credit union or to speak with one of Adrenaline’s branch experts, contact us today. And be sure to stay tuned to the Believe in Banking Podcast as it highlights industry news and views for banking leaders. 

Adrenaline is an end-to-end brand experience company serving the financial industry. We move brands and businesses ahead by delivering on every aspect of their experience across digital and physical channels, from strategy through implementation. Our multi-disciplinary team works with leadership to advise on purpose, position, culture, and retail growth strategies. We create brands people love and engage audiences from employees to customers with story-led design and insights-driven marketing; and we design and build transformative brand experiences across branch networks, leading the construction and implementation of physical spaces that drive business advantage and make the brand experience real.

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