Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Bank/retailer Partnerships Sprout in Bank Lobbies

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Bank/retailer Partnerships Sprout in Bank Lobbies

Article excerpt

Citizens Security Bank & Trust, Bixby, Okla., displays pickup trucks and other big-ticket items under its roof. An Oregon bank shares space with a Post Office. A Wisconsin credit union co-markets with an adjacent bookstore.

Steadily, these and other financial institutions throughout the U.S. are experimenting with the look and feel of their facilities and their service mix--offering nontraditional retailing along with basic banking services.

Citizens Security differentiated itself when it worked with retailers in the area to display big-ticket items, like a boats and cars, in its three-story showroom adjacent to the branch in Bixby. Customers feeling bold enough to make the purchase can arrange to get on-the-spot financing at the branch. Although the bank doesn't charge a display fee or get any of the action directly, it puts its brand squarely in the minds of its customers. This is part of a general strategy to make its branches more viable.

Along with remodeling, the $132 million-assets bank retooled its corporate culture. "We've really emphasized sales here," says executive vice-president Jim Allison. "Our customer service folks that deal with day-to-day service requests are in the back of the office instead of the most visible part of the branch."

In keeping with a retailing theme, the bank also has electronic screen displays that flash bank offers and community news (see photo on the next page).

Growing interest in "ca-retailing"

Competitive pressures and online banking developments have pushed banks to address the issue of what should be done to keep branches relevant--and in the black--in the future.

"Anybody who's beginning to think outside the box is thinking about how they can rework their branches to improve retention or derive new sources of fee income, and offering nontraditional services is one way to do it," says Denise Baker, director of corporate marketing for Bank Building Corp. …

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