Staffing the Branch – The BayCoast Bank Story

baycoast bankBy Nicholas M. Christ, President & CEO, BayCoast Bank

The rise of eBanking has not fundamentally changed the branch’s role in generating growth and profitability at BayCoast Bank. Our highest-value customer interactions continue to occur in our branches.

In our experience, brick and mortar branches are the right places to discuss lending options, business services and non-core banking products, such as insurance and investment services. Branches are where we deliver the consultative experiences that build profitable long term relationships.

Our strategy is to open store fronts while actively managing our staffing so that we grow our business and control our greatest expense at the same time. To help us, we partnered with two companies – COCC for the most advanced core platform and the Long Group for their StaffingLab®. Their recommendations are estimated to result in a 1600% return on our investment in StaffingLab®.

COCC and the Long Group helped us collect the detail we needed to make fact-based decisions about branch staffing. All of our branch personnel participated in the process by completing an operational duties task sheet. The Long Group incorporated our staff’s responses with COCC’s daily transaction reports and security tape data to discover how long it actually takes to perform the various processes in our branches.

This information has given us deeper insight into the nuances of our business. We now have a holistic view of our retail franchise – not just the platform and teller staff, but our retail management, too. We can see how our customers interact with our bank and which sales opportunities we missed.

This level of detail gives us a factual basis to talk about staffing targets. BayCoast Bank’s goal is to reach 85% productivity at each branch; that has left sufficient capacity for other duties, such as building relationships. It is our desire to improve sales activity by as much as 60% in identified branch markets. Our model allows us to staff the branch to accommodate this increase in sales volume. It’s very clear that we don’t want to create an understaffed situation for the sake of efficiency. Instead, we want to improve our overall effectiveness as a banking institution.

An important part of branch staffing plans involves redeploying staff to our new branch locations. There’s no substitute for putting experienced staff into our new branches. We have a culture of people who know our bank and its procedures. Through cross training and smart placement, we are building the flexibility to execute our sales and service model.

We also have benchmarks and ongoing feedback from COCC to drive our staffing model going forward. We now schedule teller and platform personnel by day and parts of the day at each branch because we have the insight to anticipate and meet peak customer service demand.

Like most banks, BayCoast Bank continually wrestles with capital investment. We watch how the mix of e-commerce and brick and mortar activity is changing and develop plans to adapt accordingly. Today, tablets, smartphones, the Internet and debit cards have yet to replace the branch as a high value banking channel, though tomorrow might be different.

Our continued attention to branch staffing and the market at large is guiding us through the many changes we face in the banking industry. As branch-based transaction volumes continue to decline industry wide while salary and benefit expenses escalate, we can’t imagine why any bank wouldn’t want to deploy an advanced, knowledge-based solution to the challenge of branch staffing.

About BayCoast Bank
BayCoast Bank is a successful community bank serving the people and businesses of southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Bank upholds the time-honored belief in community involvement and provides a wide range of financial services. BayCoast Bank has locations in Fairhaven, Fall River, New Bedford, North Dighton, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea, Tiverton, Rhode Island and Westport. In addition to offering a vast array of deposit and loan products, BayCoast Bank offers insurance and brokerage services to consumers and businesses alike. Affiliates include BayCoast Financial Services, offering stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities and college savings plans and Partners Insurance Group, LLC, a network of independent agencies representing several insurance companies that provide automobile, home, life and business insurance coverage.