RIP: Brick-and-Mortar Branches? Not at All

The branch is still the face of a credit union. Many credit unions are rethinking and expanding their design strategies to meet member needs.

Branches with engaged credit union employees are still critical to a credit union’s success. When making major financial decisions, members appreciate the personal touch available only through the branch.

Members’ reliance on the branch has implications for how branch design and functioning should evolve. As the face of the institution, branches need to be both aesthetically pleasing and service-oriented. Many credit unions are rethinking and expanding their design strategies to accomplish this balance.

Family Friendly Design Strategy

After a survey found that 63 percent of the membership was female with an average age of 35, Charlotte Metro Credit Union in North Carolina with $132 million in assets redesigned their main branch to appeal to their primary membership segment.

The newly refurbished branch features a children’s area. Mothers can now comfortably bring children into the credit union with them. The area includes an enclosed sand table and shows solely television appropriate for children.

The children’s area at Charlotte Metro Credit Union’s main branch

The redesigned lobby includes family friendly furniture. Lifestyle photos are proudly displayed on the walls. The layout also features easily accessible marketing and educational material.

Seeing the Results

The new design strategy yielded very positive results. In 1995, the credit union had $50 million in assets; in 2005 it has over $132 million in assets. Similarly, in 2004 Charlotte Metro had 4.99 percent member growth, more than double the industry averageof 2.33 percent. , Charlotte Metro simultaneously improved member service and experienced positive rates of growth by redesigning the branch based on the members’ needs.

More information on innovative branching strategies in Callahan’s newly released research report, Branching: A Brave New Brick-and-Mortar World.

April 26, 2016

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