What Do Bank Architects Do?

• Rick Driftmier, AIA
• President
• The Driftmier Architects

Most people think architects sit at a drafting table, listen to classical music and draw things. That is kind of like believing bankers sit behind a big desk, listen to jazz and wait for people to borrow money. As a young visitor to the office recently answered, "I know, Architects design buildings."

It is true. Architects do design new buildings and remodels of existing buildings. We design tenant improvements, often do interior design and provide space planning. But that is only part of what we do. As architects we assess your needs now and into the foreseeable future. We often design buildings to grow with the market by preplanning for future expansion in the original design. We evaluate sites being considered for purchase and development, inspect building for potential purchase or lease, and follow through by providing due diligence reports.

In the Banking World

As architects, we help our clients project their brand, increase cross selling in the branches, help deter robberies, provide layouts that increase sales while also helping the staff to be more efficient. We create layouts that allow you to provide a full branch in a smaller space and build spaces that allow branch staff to be reduced while also increasing customer service.

  • Reduce Costs Trained architects can help you save money by reducing facilities and staffing costs. The right-sized branch will reduce construction and development costs while also reducing operational costs. Targeted design and a careful use of customer technology will help you provide a competitive branch with a smaller staff.

  • Stake a Claim on your Market Good branch design will help you stake a claim on your market. As with Starbucks or McDonalds, a consistent branch appearance projects your brand and represents the financial products and great customer service that customers will find inside. The exterior design of your branches is the first thing customers and potential customers see. It is where first impressions are made. A good architect will help you set a consistent brand specific image in your market.

  • Increase Sales An experienced architect can help you increase sales, launch new products and attract potential customers to your branch. Creative design will increase interaction between your staff and customers. A carefully designed interior layout will provide display areas to feature new products and services or seasonal promotions. It will provide convenient access to additional information about those and other products. And it, will lead customers to staff who will be trained in closing the sale.

Architects who Specialize in Bank Design

Often architects who specialize in bank design offer additional services targeted directly at what our clients need. These vary between firms. As an example, some of the specialized services our firm offers to our banking clients include:

  • Robbery Deterrent Design Robbery deterrence is an interesting challenge. Many of the ideas proposed to deter robbery also deter customer service and related sales. The trick is to improve customer service while making the branch more difficult to rob than the bank down the street. Unfortunately it is like the old adage that to escape a bear, you need only run a bit faster than the other guy. There are numerous techniques and design elements that make one branch more risky for the robber than another branch.

  • Location Specific Market Analysis Our office helps many of our clients select the market area where they want their next branch to be located. This is done through a market analysis process that takes into account demographics, local competition and how well those institutions are doing, traffic draws like coffee shops and supermarkets, the number of potential business customers and number of people who work in the area, traffic counts, population growth projections, topography and a wide variety of other factors.

  • Prototype Branch Design We often help our clients through preparing prototype branch designs that target their selected market, project their brand and efficiently serve their customers. In doing this, the bank can create a consistent presentation to their market and work the bugs out before investing in the branch itself. In today's competitive market, you need to draw people into the branch and welcome them as potential customers. An architect with extensive bank design experience can help you do this, while also reducing size of both the branch and the staff.

We welcome your feedback and questions. Please contact me at rick@driftmier.com.

Rick Driftmier AIA, is President of The Driftmier Architects and has designed more than 400 branch facilities. His firm provides architectural and interior design, space planning, location specific market analysis, and a wide variety of other services to their bank clients.

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