Refresh, renovate, or reinvent: How to estimate your best investment

In the constant competition for core deposits, the first impression your branches make has a significant impact on whether or not a potential member will consider your credit union. How do you estimate your best investment—the areas where you can refresh, renovate, or reinvent branches in your network?

Updating a branch location in an existing market with a strong growth opportunity draws attention in your community and drives new member engagement. Current and existing members along with the branch staff will benefit from an environment that functions every bit as good as it looks.

This article covers the different levels of investment you can make to update your branches and the key indicators that should guide you in your decision-making.

What are the different levels of investment for updating our branches?

In terms of updating your current branches, there are three different approaches to consider—refresh, renovate, or reinvent. Each of these levels has a different goal and requires a different level of investment.

Refresh: Surface-level revival

The refresh strategy focuses on superficial changes to rejuvenate the branch’s appearance and drive new member engagement. A refresh involves minor fixes that cover up wear and tear accumulated over the years. A fresh coat of paint or updated branding, wall graphics, repairing damaged surfaces, and replacing worn-out carpets are examples of these quick fixes. As a relatively simple process, refresh remodeling has minimal impact on branch operations. It’s a cost-effective way to enhance aesthetics and maintain a presentable environment.

Redesign: Modernization and efficiency enhancement

A redesign strategy aims to address both outdated design elements and inefficiencies within the branch. This approach doesn’t entail a complete overhaul, but instead employs a targeted strategy to improve functionality. For instance, replacing traditional teller lines with teller pods, incorporating Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs), or introducing tech tables with iPads can enhance member engagement and convenience. Even incorporating things like a coffee lounge or a fireplace work wonders to create an inviting and comfortable experience.

Reinvent: Complete transformation for maximum impact

The reinvent strategy marks the most comprehensive and impactful form of branch remodeling. This approach involves a radical transformation, falling just short of entirely new branch construction. It encompasses elements from both refreshing and redesigning strategies while introducing more profound changes.

Knocking down walls to create an open, flowing layout can greatly enhance member experience. This level of remodeling also presents an opportunity to reimagine brand execution within the physical space. Incorporating technology for a superior member journey, employing member consultation rooms, and manipulating lighting for ambiance all contribute to an immersive and modern banking environment.

How often should branches be updated?

While there is no hard-and-fast rule, we recommend that branches follow the same pattern as other retailers—your locations should receive some kind of physical update every 5-10 years at a minimum.

Deciding which level of investment is right for your branches

Check out a previous article where I laid out how to calibrate your investment to the size of the opportunity for each branch. The process described there will guide you to quantify both current performance and future opportunity—the main factors to consider when determining which level of investment is right for each of your branches.

Even if you’re not considering a completely new build, you should always include a significant investment in updating your existing branches in your annual budget. Most likely, you won’t be able to update all of your branches at the same time. But you can use this model to budget for consistent updates throughout your branch network to keep you competitive in today’s market.


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Kurt Klassen

Kurt Klassen

Kurt is a financial services executive with two decades of experience working with both banks & credit unions. He excels in developing & executing transformational growth strategies for financial institutions, ... Web: Details