Last year, financial institutions closed a record number of branches as the pandemic accelerated consumer adoption of digital and mobile banking and merger and acquisition activity increased nationwide.
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence information, banks across the U.S. closed nearly 4,000 branches — a vast increase over the 1,000 opened. In 2020, banks closed more than 3,300 locations while opening just a tad over 1,000. In 2019, banks closed only about a third of 2020’s figures — revealing a rapid acceleration of what has actually been happening in the financial services industry since 2012 — now known as The Great Consolidation.
What’s Causing All of These Bank Branch Closures?
One of the greatest causes has been a dramatic increase in mergers and acquisitions activity, leading smaller institutions or overlapping branches from merged entities to close down. The pandemic also doubled the rate of branch closures due to the rapid adoption of online and digital banking. This preference for digital solutions is expected to continue growing in the years to come.
Financial services industry shifts aren’t the only reason why branches are shuttering, however. Many banks lease locations in strip malls and other types of facilities. Depending on the landlord or property management company and their respective goals, they may decide to take the property in a different direction — leading the bank little choice but to close or relocate.
What Goes Into Bank Facility Decommissioning
Whatever the reason, financial institutions tasked with facility decommissioning have a great responsibility to not only consider the impact on the local community but also to prepare the facility they’re leaving for the next tenant or for eventual sale. There are multiple aspects to facility decommissioning that have to be planned. Every decommission differs based on the scope of work and who is involved but in general will include three distinct areas: exterior, interior, and ATMs. We’ll explore each of these here.
Decommissioning the exterior of a facility involves removing existing brand elements, making any necessary repairs, restoring landscaping as needed, and ensuring the facility is safe for its next tenant. Examples of work in an exterior decommission include:
- Removal of all applicable signage, including letter sets, pylons, regulatory, handicap, lane indicators, and other branded signage
- Removal of window and door clings as well as any vinyl graphics
- Properly terminating and capping off any electrical connections, outlets, or openings
- Filling or repairing exterior openings as a result of any removal work, such as repairing brick and mortar and removing ghosting left behind the from the previous sign
Decommissioning the interior of a facility involves a variety of different tasks, such as de-imaging interior spaces, moving furniture and other assets, refurbishing those assets as needed, making any necessary repairs, and conducting finish work to get the space ready. Examples of interior decommissioning work include:
- Removal of door clings and vinyl, branded soffit lettering, branded signage, branded displays, digital graphics, and digital signage
- Removal (and relocation) of furniture, stanchions, partitions, file cabinets, and shelving
- Cleaning of furniture to be re-used at other sites
- Patching, painting, and repair of walls, including framing
- Repair or replace carpentry, cove base, and millwork as needed
- Repair of carpeting tiles and other floorings as needed
- Coordination of service disconnects and asset removal
ATM decommissioning can be both interior and exterior depending on the branch setup. While other third parties may need to be involved in the removal and/or relocation of the ATM system itself, the surrounding spaces (both aesthetic and structural) will need to be decommissioned to ensure the space is ready for other applications. Examples of ATM decommissioning work include:
- Coordination and support for ATM removal and/or relocation
- Installation of ATM signage covers ahead of removal
- Removal of any ATM surrounds or other branded elements
- Proper cap-off of any electrical supply for the ATM
- Repair, patch, and paint any interior/exterior wall openings
- Installation of a metal cover for the night deposit box
Other Facility Decommissioning Considerations
- Permitting — Depending on the nature of the decommission and the other parties involved (such as the property manager and the current tenant), permits may need to be obtained to stay in compliance with local codes. In these instances, the responsible party will need to be determined. Most often, the company doing the decommissioning work itself can assist with obtaining these permits as they’ll have the expertise needed to manage the process efficiently.
- Forward Improvements — If a landlord is managing the process, a facility decommissioning is a great opportunity to consider energy improvements. Interior lighting retrofits and upgrades not only reduce energy utilization and costs but also make spaces brighter, more productive, and safer for employees and customers. Additionally, not having an active tenant or having time between tenants allows you to make other updates to make the facility more appealing, up-to-date, and welcoming for future users. Light refreshes and repairs can go a long way in making spaces useful.
Work with Stratus for Your Decommissioning Needs
Stratus partners with financial brands across the country for both facility decommissioning services as well as refresh & remodel capabilities and new location planning. Our broad suite of capabilities means we’re able to assist with everything from interior and exterior signage to light and major remodeling, as well as the energy improvements mentioned above. Additionally, our preventive maintenance offerings keep signage systems and facilities operating at peak performance, adding deep value for tenants and their customers.