An Easy-to-Follow Guide For Opening a New Bank Branch

Bank owner looking at the floor plan for her new bank with an architect at the construction site

Making the leap to opening a new branch of your financial institution takes careful consideration. Your bank is running smoothly, sufficient cash flow is coming in and your market shows that more people are coming to your area. You need to grow to meet their needs.

Before you begin your application process with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, you should take time to thoroughly research your bank branch location selection.

Vanman Architect & Builders has an experienced staff that has helped banks grow for more than 60 years. Here’s our guide for opening a new bank branch.

Choose An Accessible Site

There’s a direct correlation between where your bank is situated and how well your bank performs. Bank branch location selection is vital to your branch’s success, so our first tip is to find a stand-alone building (or lot) because these tend to outperform in-line spaces within a strip mall.

If you’re looking at an in-line space, try selecting the corner office so there’s an open side for an additional entrance to your bank and an outdoor ATM or drive-thru teller station.

If your bank branch location analysis gives you the flexibility to build or select from a number of vacant buildings, create a mathematical model with statistics listing household income, population density, retail competition and traffic volume. Analytical evidence will provide an ideal foundation for deciding which location is best for your financial institution.

You should also examine how heavy traffic is around the area. If the storefront is going to be seen by thousands of motorists a day, it could bring in new business. However, you’re opening a new location to accommodate existing clients, too. With that being said, a location that doesn’t have a lot of traffic isn’t the end of the world because that means it will be easier to access.

Are Your Customers Already There?

Speaking of accommodating your existing clientele, you should always consider where your customers already live when deciding on a new location.

A new location can go a long way in terms of growing customer satisfaction. If your new building is closer to existing clients, the happier they will be. In turn, you could see an uptick in clients from positive referrals from your existing customers.

If you’re making a push to grow your clientele, your goal should be to select a location where your brand isn’t as well known. If the competition level from other banks is low, this could be the perfect opportunity to market to clients who are looking for a convenient place to bank.

Who Are Your Neighbors?

Before you decide on growing your bank’s reach, always consider where the competition is located. If a competitor has a stronghold on an area, don’t waste your time opening a bank in the middle of it. Look for a spot on the outskirts of where your competition lays without sacrificing convenience.

Don’t Jump Into a Supermarket

Through your studious bank branch location analysis, you’ll notice how cheap it is to move into a supermarket. Be wary of the possible headaches that can come with this decision.

For starters, you won’t be able to set your own hours — you’ll be at the mercy of the market’s hours. These markets also become congested with individuals not looking for your bank. These crowds can drive away potential customers who don’t want to deal with the difficult parking situation outside or the general foot traffic coming in and out of the store.

The indoor lobby at the Bank of Elk River

Bank Accommodations

Are you ready to go big or go home with your new location? Before diving into construction, put the shovel away and make sure you’ve made these considerations for your blueprint.

Would an ATM Be Fine?

Designing and building a new bank location is a substantial investment. If you have determined a few possible locations for your bank, consider placing an ATM in different areas. Here are a few parameters you should consider:

  • Location popularity
  • ATMs in the vicinity
  • Banks in the vicinity
  • Real estate cost
  • Accessibility of the ATM

ATMs don’t need to be staffed and can operate 24/7. You can still have your branding in the area with proper ATM signage, and your clients can reach you without stepping through your doors.

Room for a Drive-Thru

People are on the go now more than ever. We have come to expect fast service, and lack the patience to stand in line when faster options are available. That’s why having a bank with drive-thru tellers and ATM access can speed up your clients’ trip to the bank, therefore creating higher customer satisfaction.

If you’re planning on going heavy with drive-thru windows, you won’t need a large main lobby. If the point of a drive-thru is to shorten lines inside, then the less room you’ll need inside your bank for customers.

Announce Your Arrival

If you have picked the location you’re moving into or about to start the construction process, announce your arrival with signage. Make the signs as big as possible so people know who’s moving into the neighborhood. This will also make it easier for your customers to find you.

Fill The Staff Early

Most new branches find success when they have picked someone from the original location to become the manager of the new location. This person will be trusted with a massive amount of responsibility. The more they know about your bank, the more potential issues they will be able to resolve with their presence alone.

It may seem obvious, but make sure you staff the new branch early — not only for the sake of preparation, but to allow your employees to become embedded in the new community. The more local businesses they meet with, the greater the commitment you’ll be showing to the new community. The established familiarity with the area will go a long way in the success of the new location.

Work With an Experienced Building Firm

Vanman has provided trusted architectural and building services to financial institutions since 1957. Our team focuses on your goals as a bank and gives your clients that feeling of partnership when they walk through your doors.

Contact our team and learn more about how we can help you create the next branch for your bank.