Forgive me if you’ve heard us say this before, but when looking at branch design trends you should NOT look to the big boys. Particularly in the wake of the pandemic, you should not be focusing on Capital One with their cafes, Chase, BofA, Wells, or Citi with their grandiose, tech enabled, robot welcoming branches in the heart of the city.

We’ve been saying for a while now that trends in banking, particularly at the Community Bank and Credit Union level, should be looking at what “Quick Serve Restaurants” are doing with their drive-thru’s, curbside pick-up, and in-store transactional models.

On top of what we’ve discussed related to Target ( and our own designs regarding Curbside Banking ( we now present you design concepts for “El Pollo Loco.”

This California based chicken restaurant has just unveiled their new store concepts. It is a direct result of a post-COVID world, where fast, convenient, and now “contactless” are paramount.

The highlights of the video are to demonstrate the adoption of key features, which are completely translatable to a branch:

Walk Up – Of course this makes sense for a place selling food in a bag, but the idea of a “walk up” is not new to banking, particularly in a Micro Branch concept. This has been used successfully in mobile Micro Branches, used in tight urban areas and at festivals. There’s no reason to believe that a walk up window cannot be deployed even at a flagship branch.
Drive Thru – The drive thru is nothing new. Pre-COVID, there were questions surrounding the long term viability of the idea, more specifically with the tubes. Now, the drive thru is having a new dawn, with many people still going to the branch, but opting for the drive thru’s ITM’s.
Open (Air) Concept – Open concept is not new. The advent of the cash recycler eliminated the need for the traditional teller line, which introduced the pod, which introduced the open concept floor plan. Now, branches have gone a step more by introducing retractable walls and rollups, bringing in fresh air, and peace of mind.
Curbside – The aforementioned curbside banking concept. Tech enabled, park in a spot, talk, seek advice, conduct transaction. Even have a Teller come out, if need be.

If you are curious about re-envisioning your branch for a post-COVID world, we have developed the Re-FI Program as a no obligation way for us to review your branch strategy and provide you with a budget and actionable items to set yourself up for a strong 2021 and future beyond.

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