SANTA ROSA, Calif.-A trio of "smart offices" in the heart of California's wine country is working out well for $130-million Community First Credit Union.

David Williams, corporate communications for Community First, told Credit Union Journal the new facilities-which are in Sebastopol, Guerneville and Healdsburg-are 1,000 square feet or less, or about one-quarter the size of the CU's full-service branches.

Year to date through October, Williams said two traditional branches have processed 88.4% of all transactions, compared to 11.6% at the smart offices. However, ATM use is 48.2% at full-service branches, 51.8% at smart branches; net new members 42.1% at full-service branches, 51.9% at smart branches; and new checking accounts 47% at full-service branches, 53% at smart branches.

"We do not have a loan officer at one of the full-service branches, while all three smart branches have a loan officer with local ties, so the numbers are off a little bit, but first mortgages are 11.7% for full-service branches compared to 88.3% at smart branches," he reported.

"Members are buying in to the smart office concept," Williams declared. "We are blessed to be in a county that has consumers who are comfortable using technology. Even with a cashless office, the fact there is an envelope-free, deposit-taking ATM right out the door works for them. Plus there is an iPad and an iMac at each of the offices and there is someone who can show members how to open an account or rearrange how their account looks on online banking."

Williams said credit union is happy with the small-is-better strategy, "The new branches are everything we hoped they would be as far as foot traffic, generating revenue and being accepted by the communities."

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