The connection between banking and coffee is tenuous at best; however, a number of banks (especially in the United States) have underused lobbies and there appears to be an infinite appetite for caffeine. So when demand meets supply, there are opportunities.
I know you’ve heard this all before from me 11 years ago (yikes), The Wall Street Journal last year (Capital One) and The Financial Brand numerous times. But it’s Friday and I’m sitting in the best example I’ve personally experienced, a big, old Southern California Wells Fargo branch in Orange that turned the main part of the lobby over to Starbucks, but kept the teller windows and offices along the side. It’s a great spot for coffee, and banking, if you are into popping into a branch (or just the ATM).
Unless you are a major, it may be difficult to get Starbucks on board, but working with an independent has a lot of benefits, even if they can’t pay Starbucks-level rent. To name a few:
- Branding: You may have a trusted brand, but adding good coffee, wifi and pastries to the mix can’t hurt.
- Traffic: There is almost no reason a non-customer will just wander into a bank unless they have already decided to open an account. Coffee will bring people in. Converting them is another matter (that we are avoiding today).
- Rewards: Everyone likes free stuff. Linking transactions, account opening, savings levels, and so on, to points-redeemable in your branch could be a good retention vehicle.
- Crowdsourcing: One area with which coffee shops struggle is providing an experience that differentiates them from others. Using the bank’s customer base to crowdsource entertainment, book/magazine exchange, food ideas, and so on could help build community.
- Meeting space: Small businesses love to meet in coffee shops. However, privacy is an issue. Turn over that under-used conference room to select small-biz customers and community groups, with priority to clients of course. (Extra credit: web-based reservations).
Bottom line: There are many drawbacks to sharing your space—hours, staffing, strange visitors, and so on—but it’s Friday and it’s still summer, so I’m not going to get bogged down in the details. Enjoy the last week of August!