The Bank Builder’s Toolkit

Systems, Tools and Methods That Build Banks FAST

Bankers toolkitGrowing a bank isn’t some mysterious process that involves tea leaves and oracles. It’s more like building a house or tuning up a car’s engine, with a power tool for every step and a hand tool for every part you need to work on. Effective builders have a “franchise system”—the proven best way to do things that minimizes mistakes and maximizes results per hour spent.

Building your bank’s profits and tuning up your sales and profit culture requires a set of tools as well.

From marketing and sales performance tools, to hiring and people management tools, to strategic planning, accountability and celebration tools—there are “best practice” tools to collect in your toolkit so that whether you’re starting a new location, acquiring a competitor, or hiring a personal banker, you have a franchisable system that just plain works.

So where do you start?

It all starts with the primary tool for upleveling your sales culture and getting every employee and executive on board: leadership. And the first thing you build with that tool is a healthy culture. Systems don’t work without a healthy workplace culture. There’s no point in developing systems if you have people who are uncoachable, don’t want to follow your systems, or simply won’t. 

That’s why culture is job one.

Top-performing leaders embrace change, promote growth and realize that everything is a leadership issue. They challenge all beliefs and assumptions. They take action. And they give people who don’t share the value system—or who display a bad attitude—a same-day choice to either buy in fully or opt out to a place of employment that ts their value system. (You know—the job where they are hired to whine, complain, gossip and not follow systems or be accountable. Yeah, that job.)

Top-performing leaders keep their team on course and insist that people follow the best systems instead of reinventing wheels.

Here are some proven systems, tools and methods that regularly help banks grow more profitable with a more predictable path:

Click to discover the systems, tools and methods

Critical Drivers—In every business, there’s a checklist of goals and targets that—when reached, surpassed and improved upon—continually drive revenue into the business and drive up profits. We call these targets “critical drivers.” Identifying, tracking, measuring and meeting the critical drivers of your bank will make it a top-performing institution.

It’s safe to say that most banks either don’t have defined critical drivers by position or, if they do have them, have critical drivers that worked (barely) when parachute pants were all the rage. Drivers like “number of calls” get you nowhere fast. What you really want is “aces on Top 1000 prospects” to know that calls are going to the right people and following a prot-rich sales system instead of one where you get dragged into matching a rates.

What? Are you STILL matching rates? I see. (And that’s a nice Flock of Seagulls hairstyle, by the way.)

Today, top-performing banks focus on key initiatives tied to those critical drivers that boost net interest margin and deliver an ROA that was once thought inconceivable.

These leaders concentrate on getting core deposits, pinpointing A+ credits, landing this quality business at premium pricing, and differentiating their bank from the competition with compelling USPs, smart marketing, whole-team sales and culture training.

They establish systems within their bank to replicate these powerful strategies anytime they open a new branch, hire a new employee or take advantage of a merger or acquisition opportunity that lands in their lap.

By giving your people a clear understanding of critical drivers that really matter, you can start to move things forward in ways that make some sense. For instance, instead of a personal banker caring about the number of new accounts they have, they should really care about how many Top 100 prospects they’re bringing in. Is their cross sales ratio on new accounts going up every week? What’s the number of cross sales to Top 100 customers for example. THESE are goals that actually matter to your bottom line.

Do you really need more customers losing money for you? Didn’t think so.

Weekly Sales Meetings—Research across all industries has proven that the highest ROI activity that happens in sales meetings is teaching skills and asking people to use and report back on those new skills. Whether it’s a meeting of your retail sales team or your trust, investment or commercial sales teams, a sales meeting agenda that is focused on celebrating wins is good, but learning what part of the sales system CAUSED the win to happen matters just as much. In the sales meeting, make sure every person is properly using the right system to get premium pricing.

Hiring Right—Let’s face it. Hiring has never been more difficult. With up to 40% of the population experiencing mental health and substance abuse disorders at some point in their lives*, how do you avoid the pitfalls of hiring people who are destructive to your culture, unwilling to do your required behaviors or otherwise unable to follow orders or demonstrate a good, honest work ethic?

With so much at risk, hiring the wrong person to be a part of your sales and service culture can be disastrous. As you hire and move people to different roles at your bank, it’s important to use powerful interview strategies, carefully-worded job performance plans that outline the activities and results required at every stage of the job—as opposed to the antiquated “job description” that was never all that effective—and tools that measure emotional intelligence, the thinking behind the behaviors that strongly suggests whether someone can do the job.

A human capital audit that outlines the 43 different positions within banking and specifies the appropriate codes for each has proven to be the cornerstone of helping many banks lower their turnover from the current average of (yikes!) 40 percent annually. More importantly, people who are considered “low risk” for a position have a 90 percent chance of still being in that position one year later. High riskers have only a 10 percent chance.

Daily Huddles—How do you get people focused on the right things?

Cross-sales scores raised, big deals closed, clients who are raving (in a good way)? Nothing teaches “success stories”—thus the Daily Huddle.

Learning, accountability and celebrating wins are the hallmarks of high-performing sales cultures. The Daily Huddle—a brief morning meeting—is a tool that smart banks use to advance learning, keep teams motivated and make sure everyone is focused on those critical drivers that make your organization successful.

Strategy Circle Process—Every one of your 5 key initiatives and 5 key results deserves a strategy circle—the miraculous process that assures that things happen. The process forces you and your team to create strategies to overcome each obstacle before you even encounter it. Using the process on every project—whether buying new software, developing a new training program, or reorganizing part of your company—will save tremendous time and create far more efficient results. Most important, it must be used on every identified key initiative and key result per the one-page strategic plan. It’s what makes the plan happen and what moves it beyond a pipe dream.

Hoopla Team®—Every time you roll out a new standard, new vision, or new way of operating, it’s important to be sure that your people are on board with full buy-in. As you work toward becoming a top-performing bank, you’ll be rolling out hundreds of reforms and culture upgrades. A Hoopla Team is a cross-sectional team representing different locations and levels, a team that can keep the enthusiasm high through celebrating, encouraging, rewarding and making bank-wide “wins” visible everywhere.

A Hoopla Team makes improving standards FUN. Quarterly all-staff award ceremonies ensure that both individuals and teams are working toward goals and being rewarded for it.

Awards should be tied into key areas of your culture: customer service standards, values, and critical drivers such as sales, cross-sales, profitability, prospects in funnel, quality of loan processing and other drivers that are critical to your bank.

As people create mastery in the basics, the things the Hoopla Team measures and celebrates get elevated every few months. For your bank to be better, your people must be better. There’s no way around the need for constant improvement. Choosing the right next things to roll out and knowing at what pace you can advance the roll-outs is critical to success. Make sure the Hoopla Team masters the fine art of getting advanced critical drivers measured and celebrated. It ties everything together.

Culture Is the Foremost Predictor of Future Growth and Profitability

Most bankers think that internal culture means friendly tellers, free coffee in the lobby and someone to greet customers as they come in the door. But have you ever found one bank that was successful with that insipid belief system?

I doubt it. Because that’s not what culture is.

Culture asks, Will your people leap over tall buildings in a single bound to make sure your client is successful in their business or personal financial goals? And will they have fun doing it so that your system is sustainable?

Culture is a system—from the selection of your employees to the rewarding of your people to the celebration of critical drivers to the tying of the critical drivers into the strategies to how you deal with dissidence to everybody pulling in the same direction, knowing that their good efforts won’t be negated by someone else who’s doing it halfway.

It’s all about fun—not just for it’s own sake, but fun tied to critical drivers that are the precursors to the numbers that bank executives talk about. When a bank CEO goes to a front-line person and says, “Hey, let’s go get a Return on Assets of 2.0 this year,” the front-line person understands, “OK, it’s my job to make sure that I have at least five cross-sales on average from every new account that comes through here.” THAT’S a kick-butt culture that can move mountains!

Case Studies:

Legence Bank Case Study
Hardin County Bank case study
The Farmers Bank case study

More Strategies:

Preventing Bank Acquisition Train Wrecks


bank seminars