Using LinkedIn as a Business Development Tool Part II, The “My Network” Tab in the LinkedIn App

In my last blog post, 5 Tips for Using LinkedIn as a Business Development Tool, I talked about using the power of LinkedIn to attract and retain business, so a natural follow-up would have been to talk about the Connected© App that runs on both Android and the iPhone that makes some of the activities I discussed in that post easier to accomplish.  But on Thursday of last week (1/21/16) LinkedIn announced that they are retiring the Connected App as they have moved all the functionality into the main LinkedIn App.  The functionality that was in the Connected App, and now in the My Network section of the LinkedIn App, are just too good and efficient not to make you aware of: job changes, birthdays, and syncs to people you are meeting with.

Author screenshot

Author screenshot

Why are job changes in your network important?  As I said in the previous post, “A satisfied customer at a new company opens up the door to you for new opportunities, and lets you know you have to renew or foster other contacts at the old company so someone doesn’t replace you as the ‘go to’ vendor.”  Reviewing a new job update from a LinkedIn connection shows you keep up with your network as well as allowing for new business opportunities.

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The Destination Branch, a Blueprint for Successful Branch Transformation

“’Disney World has nothing on you’ is probably my favorite customer reaction so far.” Chad Hoffman, CEO and President of Richwood Bank says regarding customer reactions when they first enter the newly remodeled branch in Richwood, OH.  The remodel is more than just an updated lobby redesign, it is a venture into the branch transformation and banking model of the future by upgrading a customer service model into the ultimate customer experience.

Richwood Bank, Photography by Bella Photographics

Richwood Bank, Photography by Bella Photographics

The Richwood Banking Company, newly branded as Richwood Bank, has six locations throughout Central Ohio. They’ve recently constructed a new operations/corporate facility and opened an 8th buildingRichwood Marketing. Richwood Marketing is one of many initiatives developed by Richwood Bank to partner with local business and arm them with resources to thrive and stand out.

Richwood Bank identified in their strategic planning process the overarching goals of providing customers financial protection, social connection and life direction. The journey was set for increasing customer interaction and lobby traffic while most banking models are focused on mere transactions or automation.

While still in the early stages of their complete vision, the impact is already being recognized. Earlier this year, Richwood Bank received the 2015 Extraordinary Banker award. The process, which originates from the Emmerich Group, accepts nominations nationally based on differentiators developed in the community banking industry. An independent judge’s panel with members such as Steven Covey, review and determine finalists. Richwood Bank stood as the clear recipient this year for all of their efforts.

While receiving their award in Chicago, Hoffman stated, “This is a proud honor and surreal. The one thing I want to convey to the judges, fellow nominees and the industry we serve is that this is just the beginning. We aren’t yet where we want to be but proud of the progress we’ve made so far. This is validation that 2016 will be better yet.”

Of the three prongs within the Richwood Bank strategic plan, a new lobby destination redesign complements all of them. A conversation with both Chad Hoffman and President of K4 Architecture + Design, Jeff Klump, gives insight into the destination branch concept and how it paves the way for the banking/retail hybrid and successful branch transformation that can work for your community.

K4 President, Jeff Klump & Richwood Bank President/CEO, Chad Hoffman.  Photography by Bella Photographics

K4 President, Jeff Klump & Richwood Bank President/CEO, Chad Hoffman. Photography by Bella Photographics

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Why I Became an Architect

When I was in high school trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and while doing research in the small school library for a paper I needed to write, I found an article that described Architecture as a “Social Art.” It implied that Architecture was an art form, but unlike most things identified as art, it had an intrinsic social purpose, beyond just aesthetic appreciation. I loved to draw and math was my favorite subject at that point. It was assumed in my neck of the woods that if you could do college prep math, and were going to college, engineering would be the way to go. Finding out that you could actually make a living drawing, coloring, playing in the dirt; and using formulas and math appealed to me. This simple, initial inspiration for what would become, to this point, a 30 year career as an architect, matured into what has been the central premise behind what makes me tick as a professional and as a human being:

Encouraging, Inspiring and Leading People and Organizations to Grow.

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Branch Transformation – Where Do We Start?

As the economy is showing steady signs of the growth, many financial institutions are looking to refresh their retail locations or main offices, and/or seeking to build new ones.  Banks and credit unions come to K4 seeking an answer to the question, “Where do we start?”   A good place to start, is to think about what your bank or credit union ultimately stands for and what sets you apart from competition.  The designers at K4 want to know what it is about your bank or credit union that you want to market the most.

  • Is it your technological advances?
  • Is it your ease of available services?
  • Is it your community involvement and customer support?

The answers to these questions have an impact on both the layout of your space and the design elements within the space; right down to the furniture, colors, textures and finishes.

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European Architecture

During several trips to Europe my life has been greatly enriched by enjoying numerous examples of interesting architecture.  The architecture shown in the pictures below was constructed during a time frame spanning from the 21st century back to the Middle Ages.

Rick Metzger image 1

Author’s Own Photo – Trier, Germany

Since I’m prone to walk great distances, I’ve had the chance to observe how in many places the buildings themselves are enhanced because they surround very pedestrian-friendly spaces with no vehicular traffic.  The picture above taken in Trier, Germany shows a nice example of this.  I think this feature of buildings in relation to such spaces is more prevalent in Europe than here since much of the architecture in question was built long before automobiles had to be considered in city planning.  Incidentally, during a visit to Antwerp I was about to take a picture of some great architecture surrounding a wonderful space when I saw a McDonald’s flag nestled among the buildings!  Considering the incongruity of that “Big-Mac Attack” I decided to forego taking a picture of that particular space and architecture in Antwerp.

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Financial Design for Millennials and College Students

The million dollar questions that every financial customer of ours wants to know is “How do we get millennials, in particular college students, into our branches?”

The answer is not an easy one.  And it’s not because this generation is so different from the rest of us, it’s because of the age group.  Gen Y a.k.a. “the millennials” are a large and lucrative population segment to pursue, and financial institutions are in constant competition for their business and their brand loyalty.

For this particular article, I am going to focus on the 18 to 22 year old segment of the millennials, or college students.  That is because the designers at K4 are the experts in the financial sector and we have been asked what should a branch designed for college students look like.

We assembled a focus group of college students that attend the College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning at the University of Cincinnati.  We thought architectural and interior design students would have a vision of a financial branch that attracts them and works for them.  The first question was, “What is your favorite retail store?”  Believe it or not, it was not the Apple Store.  They selected Fossil, Banana Republic and a spinoff of American Eagle.  If you do not have a frame of reference for these stores, think “industrial eclectic bohemian.”  They are clean and organized but utilize reclaimed wood and textures.

Image Source

REI Retail Store by Callison, New York
Image Source

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5 lessons I Have Learned as a Co-op at K4

Before I started my first Co-op with K4 Architecture + Design, I had no idea what to except.  There were so many questions running through my mind.  What skills will I use that I learned from school?  Those samples I have to order are free right?  Is my boss cool? What if I don’t know how to do that in AutoCAD?  I get my own desk!? It’s hard to be perfectly prepared for your first co-op because everyone’s experience is different.  Below are the top five lessons I learned on my first co-op that may help you get a better understanding of the work-study experience and the relationship between professionals and students.

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5 Tips for Using LinkedIn as a Business Development Tool

I am a strong believer in using LinkedIn as a tool to build business relationships, and utilizing your connections to meet the people who can help move your business or product forward.   Below are some tips that can help you and your company move past using LinkedIn as a job search or recruitment tool, and start using it as a way to prospect smarter and connect faster to the right people.

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Designing to Eliminate the Traditional “Line”: Teller Pods Vs. Counters

As branch transactions continue to decline, the thoughts of branch transformation continue to be important to the strategic growth objectives of financial institutions and their need to consider the redesign or reconfiguration of their current facilities.  Essential steps in making this branch evolution include integrating new technology, and introducing new processes that can perform the same traditional financial transactions in smaller physical spaces, with increased efficiency and less staff.

One approach that many of our current clients are inquiring about, and investigating, is the movement away from traditional teller lines or teller counters and toward the teller pod concept.  The teller pod, and this alternative style of transaction delivery, was originally introduced and made popular as an up-and-coming trend by Washington Mutual (WaMu) several years ago.  This new approach to branch design replaces the traditional teller counter with “pods” where customers or members stand side-by-side with the tellers, rather than opposite them, behind a counter.  The pod concept gives the  lobby an open and spacious feel and removes the barriers between customers/members and tellers, which many feel is a more personal approach.

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Enhancing Brand Identity in the Fast Casual Dining Market

In today’s busy world, dining options are constantly evolving.  While companies like McDonald’s and Burger King have controlled the fast food market in the past, a new hybrid has emerged on the scene in recent years called fast casual food.  According to The Washington Post, “The market for fast casual food, which is almost but not quite fast food, has grown by 550 percent since 1999, more than ten times the growth seen in the fast food industry over the same period.”  Fast casual dining aims to capture patrons who are looking for dining at similar price points as fast food but with better quality ingredients, more interesting options and unique, inviting spaces. Fastcasual.com makes the claim that “To keep up with fast-casual players, more quick-service restaurants are updating the look and feel of their interior and exterior design.”

Within the past year, K4 has been fortunate to partner with the up-and-coming local fast casual dining company Tom + Chee, that you may have seen on ABC’s Shark Tank.  We were hired to develop layouts for every new franchise location and have worked with them to provide the best space possible for more efficiently producing the variety of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup that they are famous for.  With the number of dining options on the market it is essential that Tom + Chee have the quickest systems available with interesting branding throughout their stores and seating options suitable to the clientele and flow of traffic.

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