MADISON, Wis. (9/23/09)--Branch building will continue soon, but it will be tempered by economic realities and lack the aggressive posture of the past, according to “Branch Strategies,” a new white paper just released by the CUNA Operations, Sales & Service (OpSS) Council. The paper discusses different branch strategies that credit unions should consider when expanding. It includes case studies from credit unions such as Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C., which uses a remote teller system, and REALTORS FCU, an online-only credit union. The paper also notes credit union grocery store branches and their advantages: guaranteed foot traffic, lower costs and extended hours. However, grocery store branches don’t have drive-up windows, and credit unions will not have much control over their lease or building. Grocery store branches also may not generate high loan volumes, the paper said. Employees at grocery store and traditional branches are evolving. Aside from being cross-trained in opening accounts, taking loan applications and other orders, employees must be relationship builders, the paper added. “In a fast-moving and sometimes unforgiving culture, the credit union setting can be a comfortable oasis where the member can expect an environment of warmth and trust,” the paper said. “Credit union employees need to go the extra mile to develop this setting. For some members who live alone, this may be their only human contact or conversation for the day.” For more information, use the links.