Teeing it Up in ‘23

I love golf. Like many, I love it more than it loves me, but so be it.

My mind turned to golf the other day as I was thinking about our community banking clients going into the coming year. If the past couple of years were golf courses, both played like Augusta or St. Andrews in a hailstorm. And with all the questions currently surrounding inflation, future monetary policy and a possible recession, 2023 isn’t looking any easier.

As in golf, the challenges facing many community banks, fall into two basic categories. Do you play aggressively, hitting hard and long leaving you in position for the easiest putt on each green? Or do you play for the safe position, laying up and avoiding the round-wrecking sand traps?

Every community bank’s strength is different so there is no single solution. No magic club for every shot. But, staying with the golf analogy, in 2023, we are going to be encouraging our clients to take a long look at their lie. At least when it comes to their real estate portfolio.

For any non-golfers reading this, a lie is how the ball is situated after a shot. A ball sitting nicely in the fairway is a good lie. When it’s buried in the rough … that’s a bad one.

But here’s the thing about lies. The difference between a bad one and a good one may be a matter of inches and sometimes less. So, here are three key areas we are going to focus on in effort to help our clients improve their lies in 2023 and beyond.

1. Bettering Your Branches

As any homeowner knows, re-modeling can be a costly, time-consuming and disruptive endeavor. Same for community bank branches. However, instead of investing vast amounts of time and money, consider “updating.” In short, from paint, flooring and furnishings – invest in the aesthetic and ergonomic elements that convey a commitment to your brand, your employees and your customs alike.

This includes an often over-looked feature – the quality and visibility of your exterior signage. In many cases, your signage is your “first impression.” Yet, too often, branch signage is too small, too dim, or hidden behind foliage and other obstacles.

But you have new-found leverage: A strong-credit tenant currently in place during a time of ongoing volatility in the retail marketplace. This can be quite helpful in motivating landlords to provide tenant improvement allowances (TI’s) to offset some of the costs of renovation, signage enhancements and reserved customer parking. These are just some of the opportunities for ongoing lease accommodations that we always leverage on behalf of our clients.

2. Re-Approaching Your HQ

As any homeowner knows, re-modeling can be a costly, time-consuming and disruptive endeavor. Same for community bank branches. However, instead of investing vast amounts of time and money, consider “updating.” In short, from paint, flooring and furnishings – invest in the aesthetic and ergonomic elements that convey a commitment to your brand, your employees and your customs alike.

This includes an often over-looked feature – the quality and visibility of your exterior signage. In many cases, your signage is your “first impression.” Yet, too often, branch signage is too small, too dim, or hidden behind foliage and other obstacles.

But you have new-found leverage: A strong-credit tenant currently in place during a time of ongoing volatility in the retail marketplace. This can be quite helpful in motivating landlords to provide tenant improvement allowances (TI’s) to offset some of the costs of renovation, signage enhancements and reserved customer parking. These are just some of the opportunities for ongoing lease accommodations that we always leverage on behalf of our clients.

3. The Long Game

Typical brokerage firms — and the commercial real estate industry in general — start by focusing on real estate transactions. After all, that’s how they get paid. For Rubicon, that part of the work comes at the end.

We begin by understanding our clients’ ideal membership of the future and the needs/requirements of the employees who serve their members. This sets us apart. While the process takes somewhat longer, the benefits to our clients are unmistakable. After all, you’re in it for the long haul so fully analyzing and validating our recommendations ensures that we’ll be around for the long haul as well.

Like golf, success in the financial services industry requires skill in many areas. In 2023, we are dedicated to further honing ours and, in the process, assisting our clients in raising their game to a new and better level.

Corey A. Waite is the leading commercial real estate advisor to the credit union industry. As Founder and CEO of Rubicon Concierge Real Estate Services, Corey works directly with senior Credit Union leadership to deliver strategic plans and transactional services focused on headquarters and branch locations alike. With a clear understanding of the unique mission and challenges of the Credit Union industry, Rubicon’s expertise and service is truly unique and value-added. You can reach the Rubicon Team at +1 (213) 462-2810.

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