The team at City & County was on the fence. Did they really want a new branch? Was the site in Shoreview, MN they’d secured years earlier still a financially-sound business decision? And if the build was to happen at all, should they take some chances and try something new?
For half a year, City & County cautiously courted a handful of prospective firms, asking them to illustrate what would a small footprint branch look like, and how to evolve their services to better meet their members’ needs in an expanding market. In the end, NewGround’s commitment to a true partnership sealed the deal.
We didn’t want someone who was just going to look at other branches in the world and build a replica of that. We wanted someone who would challenge us and make us uncomfortable in a good way. In 4 months, we went from 'We’re not going to build a branch at all' to 'here’s the contract.'
2Full-service Drive Up ATMs
4Full-time Universal Employees
With so many questions about the viability of the Shoreview build site, we dove into researching the location’s demographic. Who were our members and what was their lifestyle? Our consulting team became immersed in market research, location analysis, mapping and population trends.
Our studies revealed that Shoreview had a growing number of family households with kids in college. These were younger parents who had loan needs but had been established for 15-20 years. The town was also experiencing an influx of young people with technology jobs whose incomes were a bit higher. We were serving a potential member base who had the money to grow. And City & County could grow with them.
The big takeaway? Our strategy should appeal to a younger, tech-savvy crowd. As a prototype, this building needed to stand out and function differently than other City & County locations. We let these thoughts guide our group discovery session, attended by NewGround leaders and the City & County board.
Discovery sessions set the tone for the rest of the project. Here, everything was put on the table. Everyone takes off the hat they wear day to day and thinks a little differently. The process was tailored to get City & County thinking from a strictly retail standpoint—to open their minds and ponder, in an ideal world, what would they like the building to look like. “It was a safe place to not be afraid to speak up,” said Schewe.
Megan Primeau, City & County’s Vice President of Marketing, came to us with this thought: Less transactions. More interactions. The company had played around with the idea of a universal employee: an employee who truly can serve a member by performing all the essential client services from transferring accounts to opening new ones. No hand-offs, no waiting for the next person to sign into the system to handle the next task. We agreed that this revolution in staffing was the way to yield some new and incredible results.
This jack-of-all-trades employee would not only decrease the number and cost of employees needed, but make for a seamless member experience. And so, a refreshed and modernized employee and consumer journey informed everything we designed.
We had a revelation. The teller line needed to go out the window. Instead, a concierge positioned near the entrance would greet members and provide assistance as needed. We also knew that this younger audience has less patience with banks and decided to install smart drive-up windows for easy in-and-out interactions.
We decided the space could be smaller, more efficient and personalized, all at the same time.
We designed the building for both relaxation and private one-on-one consultation sessions, as well as areas for each universal employee to step “off stage” and get work done in privacy. Agility was key.
Smart, member-friendly technology was integrated into the design, including a personal device bar to introduce and acquaint members to mobile and tablet banking services. Private offices equipped with videoconferencing capabilities let members access remote financial services experts with ease.
The compelling/intriguing visual design of the building functions as a billboard for the credit union.
C&C cares about its members’ time and convenience and provides help when they want it with high quality technology.
Greeter / Kiosk / Front Door / Lobby
The branch knows when a member has arrived and provides a warm welcome with a “Main Street not Wall Street” impression.
Provided with a “We’re glad you’re here” welcome, members enter a comfortable environment and the ability to interact with technology.
Easily transitioning from Explore to Transact, a member can receive quick and reliable
service with the comfort of privacy to discuss business and interact with technology.
Private Office, Informal Consult
For conversations that require more privacy, members can transition to private areas or offices.
Staff is provided personal space for remote business transactions and comfortability to relax with a sense of security inside and outside of branch.
After 10 months of collaborative design and ideation, we knew we had something special to build, and better yet, with something special to say.
When it came to getting ahold of them, I felt NewGround had the “drop everything” mentality throughout the process. —Matt Schewe
The overarching City & Country brand prides itself on being a friendly, open and highly communicative credit union. Our plans centered around this thought, starting with a large HELLO welcome wall and the use of their cozy and inviting brand pink. We incorporated 7 large digital screens throughout the facility, primed to run informative messaging that helped direct members to a quicker, easier solution.
Using a total of just 3,309 sq. ft, we incorporated a feeling of openness with the use of glass. This building needed to stand out and look inviting, so we made sure you could see into the building in the day and at night.
We capitalized on unique exterior design via color and lighting. The ownable City & County pink washes the building at night, attracting members and adding subtle beauty to its surroundings. The pink stands out in a typical blue and gray-washed Midwest backdrop, harkening back to our younger audience.
The last build element we helped fashion was a bit unexpected: the choice of employees. The success of this location hinged on hiring the right people. With only four bodies in the office, every one of them needed to maximize the role of a friendly ambassador for the brand and its culture. With the universal employee concept in play, we made the recommendation that these folks needed to be quick on their toes and proactive problem-solvers. With these hires in place, NewGround and City & County were ready to open our doors. And on January 20, 2015, we did.
#1 in gross loans
per FTE43% above next
best performing branch*
#1 in checking accounts
per FTE55% Increase in
#1 in balance transfers
per FTE85% Increase in
Real Estate Loans*
*Performance statistics based on data provided by the client, January through October 2015.