A financial services firm was entering a new market. In its home market it employed a dense branch network. The CEO asked for advice on where to set up its branches. I offered to work on the topic at the zip code level, but suggested other experts would be better at deciding street and intersection targets. The CEO agreed.

As I proceeded to understand the customer segments they intended to serve, I began to doubt the wisdom of duplicating the company’s strategy in the new market. I spoke with the CEO about this early in the project and was told, “Follow your nose. If you have a contrary opinion, let me know.” I investigated alternative service models used by other firms in other markets and applied that experience to the company’s target clientele. I concluded that the company could service its customers as well or better using a lean branch model. One main office should be opened, plus one branch in a particular community that had unique needs. With some training (provided by the company’s internal training department), the staff could provide good service using the new delivery methods.

The CEO asked me to present my findings to the board of directors, which asked good, hard questions and then followed my advice. In the years since, the company’s new region has done well, and the capital expenditure and operating costs have been much less thanks to the new delivery model that I recommended.