We’ve talked a lot about Strategy lately, and rightly so. COVID-19 has forced us to rethink everything, but particularly, to rethink and re-envision whatever our 2020 plans were. They seemed like a great idea then, but now, likely not so much.

Strategy is important, but when we look at the construct of a “Branch Transformation Playbook,” there are 5 critical components that once established and viewed jointly, construct the roadmap for a purposeful and goal oriented branch.

In the below, we’ll discuss each element, and use Football as an example to add context.

Step 1 – Establish Your Goals

Goals. So many books written about them. So many speakers at Trade Shows talk about them. Maybe there’s something there after all. When we begin an engagement with a client, goal-setting is a core, foundational conversation. We need to know what you want to achieve with your branch project. Whether it be total net new number of branches, clients acquired, loans, deposits, or even your overall asset number over a specific time horizon (usually elongated; around 5 years), goal setting allows us to understand you better, but more importantly, helps us develop a Branch Transformation Playbook that can achieve these specifics.

If This Was Football: Goals are at the root of any successful team in football, or in any sport. At the team level, you know that a team’s chance of getting to the playoffs, and ultimately the Super Bowl, is conditioned upon winning the division (winning the Wild Card is not a goal). There is more to just winning your division. You will often here a Coach talk about number of wins. They will assess the other teams in their division and say, “We need to get ten wins this year, ten wins should do it.” That is goal setting – putting a stake in the ground at ten – not just saying, “Let’s go win some games and hope it’s enough.”

Step 2 – Set Your Strategy

Now that you have set your goals, your strategies are the specifics of how you’re going to achieve these goals. The strategies to achieve your stated goals may be many, may exist independently, intermingle, and may build upon one another over time. These strategies could be launching a new branch, new marketing campaigns, hiring/expanding your staff, acquiring a competitor, etc. A well thought out strategy, equally over a time horizon to match your goals, allows you to keep your eye looking forward, at the horizon, and limits the knee-jerk reactions to short term headwinds.

If This Was Football: Coaches have goals for a season, but they have strategies for their team, which are consistent throughout the season, and alter slightly in-game, depending on the team, and player match-ups. You will often hear the media talk about a team’s strategy as being “pass first” or “establishing the run” on offense, and “rushing the passer” or running a “nickel,” “dime,” or “prevent” defense. These strategies are deployed primarily by the tools, or players, on a given team, and by situation, based on the opponent and the very play unfolding.

Step 3 – Acquire The Services

Often, in the world of Branch Transformation, many community and regional Financial Institutions simply do not have the internal resources they need. It takes a lot to plan, access the right data, find land, design, and build a branch, or a host of branches. Larger organizations have individuals or teams who are hired specifically to oversee these projects, while the typical Community Bank and Credit Union default these projects to someone who’s day job is to oversee Retail, Marketing, Operations, Engagement or Experience. Regardless of outfit, eventually you will need help. Thankfully, companies like LEVEL5 have the experience, expertise and processes in place to deliver on your goals.

If This Was Football: To become a winning team, you have to have all facets of your offence or defence clicking –  even a top tier coaching staff. If you do not, you go acquire the pieces you need, either through the draft, free agency, or off-season coaching hires. This is where mid table teams bring in an innovative coach and upgrade their running back or cornerback to put themselves in a position to make a push to the playoffs. Branching is no different. You need to make the right hires to fill in the gaps.

Step 4 – Actionable Data

The idea of Big Data is nothing new – our inboxes are likely full of articles speaking to it. Data is not hard to find and acquire, the trick is what to do with it once you have it. You likely have your own data to help add insights and inform decisions. You also likely either subscribe to, or have hired external firms to analyze and provide findings. The shortcomings of these scenarios is turning this data into action. A good service provider will add value to the raw data, not only by helping you interpret it, but also dissecting it and ultimately pointing you in the right direction.

If This Was Football: Data is used in football all the time, from specific performance predictive models for incoming rookies (40-yard dash, vertical jump, Wonderlic scores) to other forms of Advanced Metrics to determine player potential. Furthermore, if you really wanted to draw a better correlation to football and Retail Branches when it comes to data, it may very well be about the idea of market potential for a team seeking to relocate from a mid-market to a larger market. More fans equals more revenue in ticket sales, TV contracts and merchandise. Recent examples of this would be the Chargers going from San Diego to Los Angeles and the Oakland Raiders to to Las Vegas. The right data will tell you where you need to open your next branch for the best ROI possible.

Step 5 – Business Case

When the first four components coalesce, they form the Business Case. No branch project should get the greenlight or move forward without a Business Case. From stated goals, tiered strategies, the services needed to fill in the personnel gaps and the right, actionable data to de-risk decisions, a CEO and the Board need to have this in once concise form.

If This Was Football: Every Football team has a playbook. Every Head Coach develops one, tweaks it season over season (or in season) and every player is tasked with owning it and learning it. It sets the stage for the entire season, with micro strategies for each game. If an NFL team didn’t have a playbook, each game would basically just be a padded up version of a neighborhood scrum at the schoolyard.

The playbook is a must. Have your gameplan down, based on data-driven facts, and take the time to lay down the goals and strategies. Call an audible when needed, but having a grander vision and not being held back by short-term bumps will allow you to look ahead and allow your Retail Branches to aid in delivering at the macro level.

If you would like to learn more about the formation of your Branch Transformation Playbook, Contact the experts at LEVEL5 to talk about each stage, or even to just talk about football.