The Steps 1 CU Took Before Building Branch

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GFA FCU didn't just blindly branch out in hope of growth-it used marketing research to determine not only the location of its newest branch but also the design of the branch to fit the potential membership in that area.

The $209-million credit union had earned 35% market share in the towns of Gardner, Hubardston and Winchedon, Mass., but needed to move into other areas to continue growing, the GFA CU said.

"We focused on Rutland, Massachusetts because it's one of the fastest growing communities in the state," said Kebby Lee, marketing and business development officer at GFA. Lee's market survey found that serving Rutland's residents involved more than constructing a branch.

"We uncovered key differences between GFA's current service area and our target membership in Rutland," Lee offered. "Demographics show a higher income and there's a greater percentage of computer ownership. But more importantly from a service point of view, Rutland's residents leave the area at 6 a.m. and return after 6 p.m. on weekday nights. That's a recipe for after-hours services and self-service solutions such as kiosks and Internet-based services."

As a result of Lee's research, GFA's new Rutland branch will combine traditional tellers and financial services associates with self-service technology offering ATM and kisok workstations that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The kiosk is produced by Rhode Island-based MontegoNet, a manufacturer of interactive kiosk hardware and software for such companies as Home Depot. The company's design for GFA will keep members focused on a kiosk version of GFA's web site.

Connectivity for GFA's kiosks is provided by the credit union's technology service, Connecticut-based COCC.

GFA plans to install the kiosks in all branches plus several remote locations. The number of kiosk demonstrations given by each financial service advisor will be tracked, and GFA plans to incent advisors who exceed the required number of demonstrations per month.

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