Branch Transformation, Retail Banking, Bank of the Future | DBSI

First CU - Branch Transformation

Branch Transformation True Story: First Credit Union

The Art & Science of an Insanely Fast Live-In Transformation

The challenges

Transform a High Traffic Branch–Without Interrupting Business

First CU wanted a seamless sales and service experience for members during the entire process. Closing for business was NOT an option.

Reimagine the Retail Experience in 4 Short Weeks

With a live-in remodel, an accelerated timeline for creating a modern space was a must.

Breakdown the Traditional Branch Barriers

First CU’s branch was your typical teller line, closed-off space. They needed a fluid flow for member interaction.

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The process

branch-lobby-02During a branch remodel, one of the biggest challenges FIs face is how to effectively conduct business during the transformation transformation process.

Most would say it’s impossible to transform the entire retail experience of a high-traffic branch, in the middle of a 115° summer, in under 4 weeks, without interrupting business…

But First Credit Union did.

And their story is downright life changing.

Measure Twice, Design Once. Then Measure Again

How is it possible?  The art of the live-in transformation is all about effective preparation combined with genius superpower.

First CU’s transformation began with DBSI’s Discovery process to define the strategic intent.  This detailed and in-depth understanding phase of our 6D® process is a key ingredient to delivering a design with the right experience, journey, technology and equipment. First step, check.

3d-renderOnce all the success metrics were clearly defined, DBSI then created realistic 3D renderings of the new First CU branch. “See it before you build it is our motto, because we get that no one can visualize a blueprint.  Ensure expectation meets fulfillment, check.

Of course, our biggest challenge wasn’t the design phase or sweltering 115 degree days of an Arizona summer. That’s all the easy stuff when it comes to a transformation.

The true test of a fast turnaround and live-in remodel like First CU’s is the coordination of all the different groups of people, of purchasing materials, prepping, and seamless timelines. Everything must be planned down to the second.  You have to know how the entire process works to be able to schedule the right people at the right time. The drywall team can’t show up after the painting crew, after all.

branch-lobby-02With everything meticulously planned in phased approaches, the DBSI team went to work over a long holiday weekend in true Extreme Makeover fashion.  The branch staff left on Friday night, and would return to a completely different experience on Tuesday.



The result

“DBSI was great.  Everything was so organized and fluid.  It’s incredible to see so many groups of people come together and work seamlessly.  We didn’t even notice them working , even though this was a large-scale production.” – Branch Manager, First CU



Through a phased approach and working only around the branch closing hours, DBSI was able to deliver an impressive transformation, completed in less than 4 weeks. The new space radiates a personal feel,a personal touch, and a like home feeling.

The transformation was so huge, that First CU even had long-time members walk in, and then back out, because they thought they were in the wrong place!

The whole project was such a success, First CU now has a template for all branches moving forward.

It almost seems too easy.


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Client Quote

“In all my years of banking, I’ve never seen a live-in remodel happen so fast and smooth. We never had to close the branch once, and the outcome of the new branch is absolutely impressive!”
- Lori Gallegos, EVP/COO

The DBSI X-Factor

  • DBSI takes on remodels with an art and science that combines expertise, experience and innovation to shorten the project timeline while allowing the branch to serve effectively through the entirety of the remodel.
  • Through strategic phasing and an in-house comprehensive team, DBSI achieved the seemingly impossible for First CU.

Our Responsibilities

  • Branch Design
  • Construction
  • Technology
  • Security
  • Branch Transformation 
  • Consulting
  • Project Management