Byron Bank Hits The Road

August 8, 2005
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BYRON CENTER — Vans with the Byron Bank name plastered all over them are taking to the streets to rev up deposit and loan activity, blaze a trail for potential new markets and boost the bank’s visibility while they’re at it.

Geared to business customers, the bank’s three secured mobile units are designed to cover a lot of ground so Byron Bank customers don’t have to. But mobile banking Byron Bank-style is much more than a courier service, said James Luyk, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“We can deliver cash and we can pick up cash. As far as we’re aware, our competitors are not doing that,” he said. “We’re almost a $600 million bank with soon-to-be 13 offices and we’re competing against national banks that have branches everywhere. Our limited number of locations becomes less of an issue when we can take the bank to the customer.”

Robert Arnoys, senior vice president of service and delivery, said mobile banking allows Byron Bank to expand its market area beyond its brick and mortar locations to anywhere in West Michigan. The mobile units serve as a marketing presence in the community, as well.

“It just reinforces the image of us being out there and doing whatever it takes for the customer,” Arnoys said. “We will do pretty much anything for the customers that are lined up for this service.”

Barely two years in operation, the mobile banking service has more than 100 regular business customers, he said. Customers can sign up for daily, weekly or on-call service. There’s a fee for the service, but the value customers get from the service far outweighs the cost, according to Arnoys.

Hours of operation are basically 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. but revolve around customers’ needs. The mobile units will operate on whatever schedule they have to in order to accommodate customers, he said. The bank is considering extended evening hours and Saturday service.

Two employees are assigned to each van and each van is equipped with a vault that’s secured to the vehicle and sealed with a combination lock. The vehicles are centrally monitored and maintain contact with central dispatch.

According to Arnoys, security is one of the advantages because the business customer no longer has to worry about the liability associated with an employee transporting funds to the bank.

Mobile banking has exceeded Byron Bank’s expectations, he said.

“The response has been very, very good. We’ve had so many people who have said they wouldn’t go anywhere else. That’s one of our intentions — to have this be a retention tool.”

Luyk said mobile banking is a permanent part of the bank’s strategy and that the bank would like to expand on it.

“The service has been widely used by our customers and our customers who have used it just absolutely love it. It’s one of those convenience services that most everybody really appreciates.”

Byron Bank is opening a branch in Wayland this fall.    

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