Bankers and Consumers Chill Together
By George Anderson
It’s a common site to see a bank inside a store looking to take advantage of the customer traffic that passes through its doors every day.
Now, however, banks are starting to take a different tack and that involves turning branches into destination points for things other than financial services. In essence, banks are taking the approach that, in addition to opening in stores, they can take what makes some retailers special and bring those elements together in the banking environment to attract consumers to branches and keep them there once they’ve stepped inside.
Union National Community Bank in Lancaster, Penn, for example, has rebranded all its new branches under the Gold Café name. The locations, which are open seven days a week for extended hours, have full-service coffee bars, free WiFi access, plasma screens with custom video content, comfy seating, a fireplace and an outdoor patio.
According to the Union National Community Bank web site, the company is looking to combine its experience in financial services with the aesthetic of a coffee house.
“Our goal is to be remarkable in everything we do as we deliver unmatched value across all of our product and service offerings. That begins the moment someone steps through the door – and we intend that moment to be one that clearly communicates our commitment to creating a positive, engaging banking experience unlike any other. We believe that together we can change banking for the better. For the best.”
According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, banks such as Union National are finding that making branches a place where consumers can come to relax or get some work done is paying off in bigger deposits by consumers and less turnover within the employee ranks.
The Bank of Smithtown, for example, has installed coffee bars, stools and plasma screen televisions at roughly half of its current 13 branches. Last year, the bank opened three new branches with this format and those locations represented about a third of the bank’s deposit growth for 2005.
Moderator’s Comment: What does the success of Gold Café and other more “comfortable” banking environments say about what modern consumers are
looking for? Do you think we will see elements of this concept make their way into banks within retail stores, as well? –
George Anderson – Moderator
- A bank? A coffee house? Precisely. – Union National Community Bank
- A Latte With Your Loan? – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)