Intuition can serve you well, but facts are a necessity.

Authored by: Scott Florini, VP of Strategy at NewGround

Everyone who knows me is aware that I am a certified (and self-proclaimed) history nut. I devour anything I can find to read, watch, and listen to about past presidents, conflicts, movements, and events that have had an indelible impact on our world. The best term I can think of to describe this kind of content is “factual entertainment.”

To be fair, I stole this term from the History Channel, but their slogan absolutely rings true with me as it clearly does with other history enthusiasts like myself. Good historical accounts are built on facts, and I love the facts.

The facts in our lives are the only absolutes we can count on. And absolutes in life are few and far between.

Leaders in business have always found success or failure downstream from the difficult decisions they have to make. Plans for hiring, operations, consumer experience, investments, and so on have always been hard to make, but in recent years things have become even more complex for those in a position to make important decisions.

Many in business have a tendency to trust their gut or intuition when it comes to strategy and operational choices. Decision-making consultant Gary Klein, in his book Intuition at Work, expresses the prevailing wisdom when he says that intuition is “at the center of the decision-making process” and that analysis is, at best, “a supporting tool for making intuitive decisions.”

But going into a decision-making process without all the facts available to you can result in an uninformed, rudderless strategy. The complexities of your branch strategy, for example, demand you take into account all the relevant facts and data.

Your Branch Strategy Demands Facts.

Immovable data and objective facts are critical to consider when making long-term investments. New branches are expensive and require a thoughtful, thorough approach to short-term and long-term strategy.

Understanding the markets you serve today, the number of branches you need to adequately serve each market, and how well your branches perform relative to market competitors are all crucial paradigms you must think through as you make long-term decisions.

Financial institutions should start with a baseline analysis of their branches. Whether it is completed internally by your staff or you partner with a firm like NewGround, checking the pulse of all your branches is a prerequisite to sound decision making.

For financial institutions assessing their branch strategy, NewGround offers invaluable insights through our free Branch Growth Snapshot. Our seasoned strategists can help reveal vital insights that will help you design a better branch strategy.

It is important to be factual, clear, and methodical when you take any significant action related to your growth and operational strategies. Throughout my career, I have heard every rationale as to why decisions were made. Too often the reasons given aren’t based on hard data, such as: “We’re building here because it’s where a board member lives,” or “I hear this is going to be a hot area soon.”

This kind of fuzzy rationale can leave us eventually wondering “why?” and can result in poor execution and results. When decisions are backed up by hard data and strategies are developed based on carefully considered market research, getting buy-in to a common goal is made so much easier. When goals and expectations are based on data analysis, they’re easier to communicate with clarity and confidence.

Once you have designed a strategy based on your findings, share it with your team and make sure they understand how the new branch strategy connects to facts about your business and your consumers.

Prepare to Answer for Your Branch Strategy: Why and How?

Why?

If new branches are going to be built, you need to be able to explain why. Why are you building new branches? Why are you building in that market, or on that site in particular?

Read More: Why Citi Won’t Dump its Skinny Branch Network and Go All Digital

How?

In life and in business, nothing is accomplished without a strategy—a way forward. Developing a strategic plan and executing it well takes an enormous amount of intentional effort. To do it, you need a purposeful and relatable process. Your ability to tell the “story” of that plan to your employees and consumers can mean the difference between success and failure.

Remaining committed to proper execution is just as important as devising a solid plan. But you cannot carry out a mission without a strategy dripping in data. Strategic execution is a topic that deserves its own article! But if you need to know how you can get started in this process, then put your focus into information gathering.

If you don’t feel like you have a complete picture of your industry landscape, get to work now on collecting and analyzing all the data relevant to your important decisions. You will find that there is more valuable information available to you than you ever expected.

If you have questions or are ready to talk about the first steps to understanding your branch network, reach out to me at sflorini@newground.com.