By: Chad Meadows, Executive Vice President/COO, VyStar Credit Union
Every VyStar Credit Union branch is designed with member convenience in mind. We know life gets busy, and out of respect for your time, we meticulously plan our branches to ensure your every visit is as productive and efficient as possible.
From the moment you walk through the front door, you are greeted by our friendly staff members, who are ready to assist you with your every financial need. Our branches are also equipped with the latest technology—including tablets, interactive displays, electronic community event calendars and more—for those members who would like to quickly and easily find information about our products, rates and services themselves. (We are quickly working to update our more established branches to include this same technology.) A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes to create this virtually seamless branch experience.
When we plan to open a new branch, we purchase the land anywhere between one and three years in advance of the branch’s projected opening. Depending on the availability of suitable land in our areas/locations of interest and other legal matters, it can typically take six to 12 months to complete the purchase alone.
Aside from building new branches from scratch, we also use several other methods to expand VyStar’s branch network. These include purchasing existing branches from other financial institutions or leasing existing properties—while taking into consideration the location of existing members, access, visibility, local demographics and more. The timelines for these expansion methods slightly differ from a traditional branch buildout; these alternative methods typically begin within a year of the planned opening date.
Once we’ve selected a property we’d like to pursue, we must go through a series of legal steps to complete the purchase, including an inspection period (which reviews important pieces to the construction process, such as titles; plans for utilities, parking, signage and landscaping; property documents; and more) closing, permitting and finally construction. Once we are ready to start building, the physical construction of the new branch spans an additional seven to eight months. After that, another month is used for staff training, supply fulfilment, signage and ATM mobilization, and other preparations prior to the branch’s opening.
During this final preparation and training period, we begin sourcing candidates for the leadership team and staff—with our focus being to find employees who best exemplify VyStar’s mission to serve the financial needs of our members by providing quality services. Once selected, our branch employees attend several phases of training—including technical, product, service and sales training. The branch leadership team is also introduced to the centers of influence in the community they are serving, such as the local chamber of commerce, business members, city officials and more. Several months later, the branch is ready to open to the public!
Our branch expansion plan is currently a seven-year plan, which is reviewed and revised each year by our Board of Directors and senior leadership team. The process includes a thorough review of each area being considered, including consumer, business and community growth, demographics and needs. Our team is continuously looking for ways to improve our branch design and the overall experience for our members.
We strive to make your visit to any VyStar branch the easiest part of your day, but one of the most important parts of ours. Because, hand-in-hand with our Call Center (which can be accessed any day of the week, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., by phone at (904) 777-6000 or 1 (800) 445-6289 or online via VyChat) and Internet & Mobile Banking, our branch network plays an incredibly crucial role in helping us reach our most important goal: serving our members in the best possible way.
Thank you for your membership, and we look forward to even further expanding and advancing our branches to better serve you.
Executive Vice President/COO
VyStar Credit Union