Plan like a college to guide your credit union more strategically

What do your credit union’s guiding principles and facilities strategy look like for the next five years? Ten years? Will your employees have room to work as your organization grows, or has hybrid work changed your space needs entirely? Do you have a tentative branch closure, relocation, renovation, and opening road map based on demographic and demand shift forecasts?

If the answer is “I don’t know,” keep reading!

While working with both credit unions and colleges/universities, we’ve found that from a mission standpoint the two industries have much in common. You’re both very strongly mission driven nonprofits that help people build a future for themselves.

But one big difference?

Colleges tend to plan more strategically for the long term.

Let me introduce you to the Campus Master Plan, something that every college has.

A Campus Master Plan creates a unified and documented long-term vision for the college, and it guides both the growth and physical development of a campus. It lays out guiding principles and goals for the next decade or longer, along with renovation and construction projects that can help the college deliver on these principles and goals.

For example, Elmhurst University developed their Campus Master Plan in 2019.

This document plans out their facilities plan, broken out into “immediate need,” “ideal world,” and “long-term.”

Elmhurst’s new health sciences building was identified as an immediate need, as it is critical to stay competitive and attract new students and faculty. These projects are placed on a fixed schedule, and we break ground on this facility in December. Ideal world projects are those that are needed, and are tentatively scheduled if everything goes to plan. Long-term projects are those on the horizon, but the need is identified and a ballpark budget can be planned for.

Changing conditions can alter this Campus Master Plan, but it serves as a guide for the university’s growth. The strategy is developed holistically with an early consensus, and this allows the university to act much more strategically and simply change course as things change rather than having to start from scratch with each project.

So how can credit unions take advantage of such a strategy?

Let’s build a hypothetical Credit Union Master Plan.

You have three branches and a headquarters.

  1. Branch A has a lease expiring in two years, and it is underperforming so you want to relocate it. You call a design-builder who tells you that the relocation project will take about 14 months. This is an immediate need project, and you create a plan to begin planning for this project to kick off in six months.
  2. Branch B is relatively new, and you own the property. Nothing needs to be done for the next 8-10 years.
  3. Branch C was updated after the last rebrand, but the layout is dated. You want to update it, but this isn’t a priority and you’re already planning one project for this year. You plan for a major renovation two years out and begin preparing for the investment.
  4. You want to enter a new market, and you know that this will require building a branch to create a presence. You’d like to do this three years from now. Knowing that this is a competitive real estate market, but you plan to renovate a branch, you allow for 18 months project duration and schedule the kickoff 18 months from today for a projected grand opening in 36 months.
  5. Your headquarters was getting crowded before the pandemic, but it became a ghost town. Now about 80% of your staff are back in a hybrid arrangement working three days a week, but everyone wants their own desk rather than hot desking. Benchmarking yourself against similar credit unions, you predict that you will run out of space in six years. You estimate that the project will take about two years, and plan to kick off this project in four years.
  6. If growth numbers go according to plan, you want to build one more branch in the market for project #4 as well as penetrate another new market with an additional branch. You’ve got an idea for this need on the horizon, but it’s too soon to start planning. But you do want to document this potential for these projects.

This plan isn’t set in stone. But what it does is allow you to plan strategically long term, rather than waiting to react to an upcoming lease expiration or start thinking about a bigger headquarters after having already maxed out your space.

If your headcount grows faster or slower, you can adjust the date of the headquarters accordingly. Or if a market shifts, you could cancel, relocate, or add a new branch project.

But this puts your organization in a strategic mindset where you are looking far down the road and planning for an optimal strategy to drive growth and best serve your members and employees.

If this sounds like something that you would like to develop for your credit union, reach out to the Momentum team via the form below.


Contact the author: Momentum

Contact the author: Momentum

Jay Speidell

Jay Speidell

Jay Speidell is the Marketing Manager at Momentum, a strategic design-build partner that takes a people centric approach to helping credit unions across the nation thrive. Web: Details