By Albert J. Vegter, AIA, President of Daniels and Zermack Associates, Inc.
Designers must recognize a number of considerations when planning drive-up teller facilities. Various site constraints, including the size and shape of the property, traffic flow past the site, and the "left-handedness" of the American automobile all have a major impact on how this important customer service functions.
Since the driver is considered the customer, every effort must be made to accommodate the person on the left side of the car. This means that plans cannot easily be reversed. As most people are right-handed, it is essential to get drivers near enough to the equipment to allow them to feel comfortable using their left hand for the work of the transaction.
Vehicle widths and driver seat heights vary a great deal, and no layout can be optimum for all. Poor guard-post placement can cause people to shy away from the equipment. Confining drive lanes to approximately eight feet six inches in width seems to work for most vehicles, but one wider lane may be desirable if the customers in a particular area are partial to larger models. With the confined lanes we then must be careful to provide a long-enough straight approach to allow the driver to enter this lane with comfort. Two car lengths are a minimum distance for each lane, and longer distances are better.
In addition to the car lengths of straight run on the entrance side, it is important to provide enough length for exiting from the lane without making the driver turn too quickly and run the car's wheels over the curb and its fenders into the equipment. Customer mishaps will automatically become the fault of the financial institution, at least in the mind of the customer, no matter how badly the customer may have been driving.
The development of good-quality one-way or two-way video systems has increased the flexibility in drive-up layouts by reducing the reliance on direct line-of-sight between teller and customer. Layouts may be head-on or not staggered when this equipment is included. The video can also reduce fraud by capturing quality pictures of all customers.
A complicating factor may be the placement of a drive-up ATM. These can be effectively located through the wall of the building in the first lane, on an island in the farthest lane, or through the wall on a different side of the building. In that case, isolating the two traffic flows and stacking areas can be a challenge.
All drive-up traffic should be consolidated in a simple, easy-to-visualize area with sufficient stacking distance so waiting drive-up customers will not interfere with walk-in customers. The regular parking area should not have to exit through the drive-up area, and drive-up lanes should not exit between the parking area and the customer entrance.
Another part of the planning is careful consideration of the signage to provide direction to the motorist. This includes the design and wording of the different signs and the sign placement. Well-placed, clear signs can reduce confusion and increase safety on the site.
Local traffic authorities such as the city engineer or the state highway department will have an impact on the location and width of drive entrances, since their approval is almost always needed before construction is allowed. Local planning staffs and planning commissions will generally require that they review site layouts and drive-up planning before approval is given to proceed with construction.
The most important factor is to create the greatest customer convenience possible under the constraints imposed by the site and the outside traffic requirements. The location of parking areas, drive-up facilities, ATM units, and night depositories are all part of the design problem to be solved by the planners. Proper planning is essential if costly mistakes are to be avoided under the pressures of providing for immediate needs.
The crucial area of drive-up planning is one of the ways that Daniels and Zermack can bring its special expertise to create a better, more useful facility for your financial institution:
Contact Daniels and Zermack at 800-999-2090 for further information.