5 Lessons Learned from Designing & Building Banks for 25 Years

Starting my career in the Financial Industry as Director of Corporate Architecture at Fifth Third Bank and subsequently as President of K4 Architecture + Design, I’ve been very fortunate to be in the business of designing and building banks for over 25 years.  Although the banking industry has undergone immense changes during that time period, the five lessons below I’ve found to hold true; even as the integration of technology, ever changing regulations, and the size and scope of branch locations and services rapidly evolve and lead the branch transformation movement.

1.  LOCATION:  PHYSICAL MEETS DIGITAL

As the number of U.S. households that utilize electronic banking services increases, one might assume consumers to place less value on a bank’s physical location. According to The Financial Brand’s 43 Retail Banking Myth’s, “not all customers want to do everything remotely and people still want local advisory services.”  Also, while the myth of branch decline has received widespread attention, “there is a still place for a brick and mortar experience albeit with fewer bricks and less mortar. We need to rethink the branch model and experience, but bankers will be offering a strong physical (and digital) presence for decades to come.”

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Convention Was Great…Now What? Part II

Part I of this post was written when K4 was on the brink of attending three conventions/trade shows/annual meetings in three weeks, and was spoken more from the perspective of a convention attendee.  Fresh from attending those shows, and with a break in our trade show schedule until Spring 2015, I thought I’d share with fellow marketers how we recap and measure the season and ROI of attending a convention as an exhibitor.

1.  Work LinkedIn…Again.  Did you send any pre-show invitations to connect, hoping to meet someone?  If you happened to meet them at convention, congrats, send them a follow up message thanking them.  If not, send them a message expressing that you are sorry you missed them, but you’d still like the opportunity to meet.

2.  Evaluate Pre and Post-Show Email Efforts.  Now that you’re not so much in the thick of the show season, it’s a great time to check out the reports and analytics behind those pre and post-show emails.  Who opened your emails?  What was the click through rate?  What within the email did people click on?  Who unsubscribed?  Use this intelligence to build better email communications for the next season.

Author's Own Campaign Stats

Author’s Own Campaign Stats

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Implementing Revit into the Architectural Workflow

Embracing change can be difficult.  It doesn’t matter what field you work in today, technology has probably impacted how you operate in the workplace.  While in the long run technology can help increase efficiency and production, implementing it into our workflow can be painful.

Architecture is obviously not immune from this transition.  Using BIM (Building Information Modeling), whether it be Revit or one of the other competing programs, has become the expectation for many of today’s projects.  I have personally been involved in the transition from 2D drafting to BIM at two separate firms and wanted to share a few important insights I have made.

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Convention Was Great…Now What? Part I

K4′s trade show season is in full swing!  See our convention and trade show schedule here.   With so many shows coming up in close proximity of each other, I felt inspired to write about the slump that can often happen after a trade show and how to avoid it.

We’ve all been there.  You leave convention inspired by what you’ve learned, excited about new connections you’ve made, motivated to implement change upon return to work, and armed with a ton of free swag to offer your staff in exchange for embracing the mighty and positive change that is coming.  Maybe you even won an iPad.

You have great intentions of embracing everything the convention offered to you.  But after missing a few days of office time, an overloaded email inbox, and the return to the daily grind, you find you have a lot more to do than simply working off five pounds of convention food and drink.

While most of us can relate to Post Convention Depression, what can we do to reap the benefits from all the learning and networking we actually did while there?  Whether an attendee or exhibitor, one can benefit from taking at least one or more of the steps below to turn the contacts you made at convention into business relationships, and the knowledge you gained into a plan of action.

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Conducting Effective Building Project Kick-off Meetings

It has been said the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  A building project journey is measured by the time frame of anywhere from several weeks to several years and the first step required to achieve a high quality project is an effective kick-off meeting.

Since no two projects are identical, no two kick-off meeting agendas are identical.  However, the following matters should always be addressed.

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Hudepohl’s Smokestack, a Queensgate Architectural Icon

Author's own photo

Author’s own photo

The former Hudepohl Brewing Company building, recently purchased by the Cincinnati Port Authority, has been providing myself and other employees of Queensgate something besides a wall to look at outside our windows ; a history lesson and charming reminder of the golden era of brewing in Cincinnati.

Although the brewery and a significant portion of the building are no longer there, the recent purchase of the building inspired me research and track down some of the history behind this iconic smokestack.

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Local Company Collaboration Explores the Art of Coupling Preservation with Modernization

What do you get when you mix two local companies working on a local historical project?  An exercise in preservation with a twist of modernization.  Cincinnati based K4 Architecture & Design teamed with the Rookwood Pottery Company for the opportunity to work on an addition to one of the libraries first opened by Andrew Carnegie  in 1903, the Avondale Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County.

If you have ever been to the Avondale Library, there’s no doubt you have stopped to marvel at the ornate tile entrance. What better way for the Avondale branch to commemorate 100 years of success and service to the community than to team up with a company with 150 years of experience in hand crafted tile under their belt.  Here is a firsthand look at our collaboration and process with the Rookwood Pottery Company.

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How to Create an Infographic in 5 Easy Steps!

Last month we decided to take on the challenge of creating our first Infographic.  We wanted something new and fresh, while remaining objective and in quality content providing mode.  The idea was to address information gleaned from recent trade show conversations with our clients and prospects, that many bank branches in our service area are in need of remodels and are in the information gathering phase of the remodel process.  The development of the Infographic turned out to be a little more challenging than expected, but we are so pleased with the end result.  The 5 Steps below are general guidelines to point you in the right direction of Infographic creation.

Is it time for a branch remodel?  Take this 6 step branch assessment.

Is it time for a branch remodel? Take this 6 step branch assessment.

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The “No-Vacation Nation” is Still Alive and Well

The term “No-Vacation Nation” came out of a Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) report issued last year and cited facts that a) the United States is the only “rich” country to not guarantee their work force days off, and b) some European countries mandate at least 20 paid vacation days a year, and some even more than that (Germany, France, and Britain receive roughly six weeks of time off).

Big deal, they get more vacation in the rest of the world, but we probably use all the vacation time we do get, right? Wrong! In a survey reported on CNBC in April of this year, only 25 percent of employees took all their time off, and even more frightening, 15 percent reported taking no vacation days at all!!

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How to Obtain Permits for Your Building Project

To assure an expeditious process of obtaining permits (zoning, building, electrical, etc.) needed for a building project, the Architect must begin by finding out from the applicable governing authorities what codes apply.  In so doing, it is important to determine if the nature of the project and/or the site on which it is located will be subject to any requirements above and beyond those included in the normal zoning and building codes – e.g.:

  • Special requirements that apply to projects on sites that are located in a wetlands or a flood plain.
  • There may be a local design review board from which approval must be obtained – particularly for projects in downtown areas.
  • The Board of Health has requirements applicable to projects such as restaurants.
  • The local Fire Department may require fire hydrant(s) to be provided on the site.
  • The USDA and FDA have special requirements relating to food processing facilities such as meat packing plants.

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