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A Winning Formula: Tips for Opening a New Branch

By Kelly Outwater Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 12.09.49 PM Though some may argue that a robust suite of e-services is a better investment than a new branch, many consumers disagree. A new branch can still be the best way to grow market share and cultivate stronger member relationships. Even the coveted Gen Y group views the branch as an important consideration when choosing a financial institution. According to a 2014 survey of Gen Y consumers by Raddon Financial Group, 64% of respondents stated that technology could not replace a branch. 

Once you’ve run the numbers and determined that a new branch makes financial sense, you’ve started down the long road to building more capacity and enhancing personal service for your members. What do you do after you’ve determined the perfect location, chosen the contractor, and begun construction? It’s time to put all the little things that will make a branch successful—the right staff and appropriate marketing—into place. The more work you do behind the scenes the better prepared you’ll be once the doors actually open. And, just like most projects in life, it takes a village to open a new branch: be prepared to collaborate across multiple functions to ensure success. One credit union that’s developed a winning formula for opening new branches is Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union (HVFCU). Based in Poughkeepsie, New York, HVFCU is a $3.9 billion credit union with over 286,00 members. Over the past ten years it has opened eleven new branches, remodeled three, and learned how to streamline new branch opening procedures in the process. Whenever they open a new branch, HVFCU starts by appointing a cross-functional task force that consists of retail, operations, human resource, information technology, facilities, and marketing staff. This group is responsible for developing a plan that clearly defines deadlines and deliverables for each of the operations areas and allows each new branch to run seamlessly from day one. Once the agreed to plan has been approved, the task force meets on a regular basis to monitor progress and resolve any issues that might arise to keep the project on schedule. Here are some of the highlights of HVFCU’s formula that should be useful to other credit unions considering a branch expansion, regardless of size. 


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