The Greenwood branch of Bridgewater Bank opened in 2006, with a specific focus on “High-touch concierge-style banking,” said Vice President of Branch Banking Caitlin Winter. From the beginning, “The Lake Minnetonka/Excelsior area really stood out to us to establish some roots there,” says Caitlin. And since then, for nearly 20 years, the branch has worked with those communities to find “Simple and easy banking solutions,” says Caitlin. Now in 2022, as the Greenwood branch finishes construction revamping its interior, adding offices, and coworking spaces, Caitlin is excited to leverage that space to continue to build relationships. Because it is those community relationships that are at the heart of Bridgewater Bank.
Construction on the branch started in 2021 with a focus on brightening and modernizing: “The space was quite dark before. Lots of cherry wood, darker brown walls. It was really nice, but it really needed a revamp, refresh, and updated lighting,” says Caitlin. Beyond modernizing the interior, additional offices and coworking spaces have been added as well as a remodel to both the branch’s bathrooms and kitchen.
“We want our spaces to match our services essentially in that they have an elevated, upper echelon look and feel that matches our concierge-style high-touch relationship banking,” says Caitlin.
During this construction, however, Bridgewater took pains to remain open so as to not interfere with clients because as Caitlin puts it, Bridgewater’s “First goal is to build relationships in the community as a bank.”
Bridgewater’s community ties can be seen beyond their support of local businesses at happy hours and business lunches. Bridgewater’s Greenwood Branch actively works with the Lake Minnetonka/Excelsior Area Chamber of Commerce. Bridgewater sponsors many of the Chamber’s events and is a member of the Excelsior Rotary Club as well. Equally important to these community ties, says Caitlin, is hiring staff from the community: “Having team members live in the community we serve is important.”
So when Bridgewater had to close its doors because of Covid, the Greenwood branch had to work hard to build and maintain customer relations: “People still needed their money and to know that their money is safe. We definitely wanted to maintain that relationship through those uncertain times,” says Caitlin. Despite those difficulties however, Caitlin says Bridgewater’s focus on personal relationships stood strong: “If anything though, it really highlighted how important and how people really value the relationships with their bank and their bankers because when they were uncertain or worried about something, they were able to call their bankers,” says Caitlin. She cites the ease with which clients can talk to their bankers as a key to their success: “We weren’t just a 1-800 number that you call and are put on hold. You are talking with Sarah the person you know from the bank.”
During that time, “A lot of people came to the bank through the PPP loans,” says Caitlin. Starting in 2020, Bridgewater processed thousands of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications throughout the community. Despite having to close their doors to in-person meetings, the Greenwood Branch continued to support their communities: “We just really made sure that we did our best in the avenues we could while our doors were closed,” says Caitlin. Fortunately, the Greenwood Branch has since fully reopened and is, “Excited to see people and see smiles and make connections,” says Caitlin.
With the completion of the branch’s construction, Caitlin encourages those curious about the bank, “To just stop in. You don’t have to have an account at Bridgewater to come in and explore to see what is different.” Bridgewater has strived to “take the confusion and guesswork out of banking,” says Caitlin.
Bridgewater streamlines the banking process by offering simple products to meet their customer’s needs. But just as important as those products, is offering clients, “A relationship with their banker to basically be their go-to person if they were to ever need anything,” says Caitlin.
It was that customer service that helped ease customer worries during the worst times of the pandemic, and continues to this day. “When you walk into one of our branches you are familiar with our staff,” says Caitlin, and now with the newly refurbished Greenwood Branch, customers can again do just that.