Retooling and Reusing Bank Spaces

In January, Adrenaline’s Sean Keathley was interviewed in Independent Banker Magazine’s article “Community Banks Get Creative with Unused Branch Space.” The article states, “Since 1992, the volume of branch transactions has dropped by more than 45 percent. That decline is continuing at a rate of 6 to 7 percent per year, according to a 2016 white paper published by Adrenaline, an experience design agency. This change in how, when and where customers choose to conduct banking transactions is resulting in excess space within banks.” Instead of leaving spaces unused within the bank or needing to overhaul their branches, some banks are applying new thinking to old spaces. 

Some of the most community-minded banks are inspired in their use of space. According to the article, “Community banks are finding ways to carve out meeting and event space that they can use both for their own purposes and as added-value resources for local business and community groups.” The article highlighted several community programs that banks are supporting through their new use of space. Frost Bank in San Antonio, Texas, for example, implemented a community room in their existing branches to provide a gathering place for organizational meetings. The effort was so successful that they’re incorporating these meeting rooms in all of their new branch locations and bank redesigns.

However, these initiatives may not be applicable to every city or town. The article says, “Before investing in creating a community room, for example, make sure there is a need for that space in the local market. Some towns and cities already have plenty of free meeting options available …” In the article Sean Keathley says, “A lot of banks are just starting out on this journey, thinking of new ways to use their physical branch space, and there isn’t a “silver bullet” approach. Every bank is dealing with a distinctly different community, whether it is urban, suburban or rural, so it is important for banks to consider solutions within the broader context of their local market and the wants and needs of that local community.”

Understanding the needs of the community is as much a cultural shift as a physical one. It’s not so much the use of the space, but a commitment to make these spaces meaningful. Sean Keathley states, “I could have two banks that create a community room, and one says it was a complete waste of space and the other says it is the best thing it ever did.” Sean Keathley points to the need to have a program supporting the initiative. The success factor, he says, is the bank needs to not only create dedicated space but also create a dedicated program for that space, and have someone proactively managing and reaching out to groups that want to use the space.” Creating connection through branch spaces works when there is an alignment of commitment, community and culture within the bank. 

For more information about designing functional, intuitive spaces and implementing cultural programs within community banks, contact us For information on tools and trends in community banking, visit ICBA’s Independent Banker.

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