There’s a saying I’ve heard that goes along the lines of “a kitchen is more than a place to eat.” And, if you’re like me, you see this play out every time you entertain at your home. Kitchens are truly the heart of a home, and over the past several decades we’ve seen home designs reflect this fact, with larger kitchens and “open concept” floor plans that have kitchens combined with living rooms, dining rooms and playrooms.
Kitchens have evolved from functional places to prep and cook food and clean dishes to a place for hanging out, paying bills, entertain friends, an art gallery for your kids’ pictures, a place for family game nights and so much more.
So, what does this have to do with your bank branches?
When customers choose to walk into your bank, give them an experience that makes them want to come back. We all want customers to feel comfortable and create a warm friendly environment, then why not include a space that evokes the feelings of home? For several of our financial services clients, we use some design elements inside their branches to create a less “institutional” feel. This includes choosing lighting and finishes that add warmth. We’ve also recommended literally adding a small kitchen that can be shared with patrons as part of the design. Giving customers a place to linger and talk can lead to a deeper relationship with their bank.
Banks we work with are investing money to better understand the younger generation as a customer, so they can stay relevant. This isn’t just a trend with local banks. Capital One rolled out “Capital One Cafes” in 2017 to lure Millennials back to brick-and-mortar branches and cultivate deeper relationships with this generation, which has rejected traditional banks in favor of online options. The kitchenette is one design trick that can help create a space to build these relationships.
What’s cooking in your kitchen?
We find banks can use these kitchenettes for a variety of purposes – from entertainment to shared space for service promotions or just a place to interact with customers. When people are standing or relaxed with a free cup of coffee they will feel free to chat without getting the sense they are being pressured or sold. Having this informal area helps create long lasting relationships. The open kitchen space can also be used to host investment groups or clubs, training or education sessions. They are equipped with power ports to plug in and televisions for presentations if desired.
You can also loan your space to groups to promote a relationship with the next generation. Such as young entrepreneur groups or future business leaders. These potential customers are eager to learn about finance and how to start a business. Give them a space to meet and having your staff there to answer questions can help build relationships and grow your business.
Here are some examples of this concept brought to life:
Forcht Bank hosts many events throughout the year, including a March Madness kick-off party for their customers using this kitchenette/tech area to build relationships and thank their current customers.
Citizens National Bank utilizes their space for hospitality to their customers and intend on getting groups in for education sessions and after-hours events.
Richwood Bank is a great example of thinking outside the box. They wanted a café area and a place that locals will feel welcome and get to know the staff. Their space is used for communtiy functions and the local high shool students love the frappicinos. This concept is not only welcoming to their customers it also enables the customers to donate to charity.