It’s a first for franchise owner Neal Faulkner, as well as for Dunkin’ Brands and Citizens Bank, but it may not be the last: a Citizens Bank branch and ATM has opened inside an existing Dunkin’ Donuts shop. With a heavy emphasis on customer convenience, this partnership represents innovative and ground-breaking thinking on the part of both brands and it just might prove to be a match made in heaven. Both Citizens and Dunkin’ are happy with the early results in terms of increased foot traffic and activity.
Faulkner is excited and energized by this new collaborative alliance at his 815 South Main Street location in Bellingham, Massachusetts. “This venture demonstrates the value of two major New England brands coming together in the name of customer service, working together to make our mutual customers’ days a little easier and more manageable,” said Faulkner. “Dunkin’ and Citizens are top local brands with a deep commitment to customer service, and that makes for a good partnership.”
Citizens Financial Group Vice Chairman for Consumer & Business Banking Martin Bischoff echoed these sentiments. “I’d describe this partnership as a natural fit. We consider Dunkin’ Donuts a fantastic New England brand, and this was an ideal opportunity for two great local brands to work together to help customers,” Bischoff said. “We are all about customer convenience and we know our customers’ lives are getting busier and busier. This partnership presents a terrific opportunity for customers to ‘kill two birds with one stone’.”
The marketing slogans supporting this endeavor sum up the customer-convenience focus perfectly: “Your daily ritual. Bank on it.” and “One stop is easier than two.”
While the bank branch and ATM have been up and running for about a month, October 29 marked the official Grand Opening Celebration, which Faulkner described as a media event. The official program began at 2:00 p.m. but many attendees—including numerous Citizens Bank employees, Dunkin’ Brands representatives, fellow Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees, local dignitaries and regular customers—gathered more than an hour ahead of time. You couldn’t miss the signs of the celebration with balloons and signage everywhere; the official Citizens and Dunkin’ promo cars parked out front; Dunkin’ staff wearing promotional t-shirts; a Dunkin’ samples table offering free coffee, bagels, cookies and brownies; and a Cash Cube sponsored by Citizens.
The Bellingham High School marching band opened the formal program with a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Citizens Bank Senior Vice President for Retail Banking Greg Kirwan provided the opening remarks, welcomed guests and shared emcee duties with President of Citizens Bank Massachusetts Steve Woods. Woods also presented checks on behalf of Citizens to the Bellingham Schools music program and to the Rhode Island Blood Center. Each group received $1500. (In a further show of partnership and charity, the Bellingham Dunkin Donuts/Citizens Bank held a blood drive coordinated by the RI Blood Center on November 2.) Other speakers included Bischoff, Senator Richard T. Moore, Dunkin’ Brands Chief Development Officer John Dawson and Bellingham Town Administrator Denis Fraine. Senator Moore said this was a great day for Bellingham and the surrounding communities. “These are two great local brands and we’re so pleased you chose to kick off such a partnership here in Bellingham.” He also joked that maybe the new slogan should be “Citizens Runs on Dunkin’.” Dawson remarked that this partnership reflects “leaders running with leaders” and emphasized the joint venture is all about customer convenience. He concluded, “I can’t tell you how proud I am.”
After the formal program, Dawson further commented, “This type of partnership represents a great opportunity for franchisees. We need to be selective but we certainly could see more of these arrangements in the future where they make sense for Dunkin’ Donuts, for Citizens Bank and for the community.” About Faulkner he said, “Neal is a great partner, and I know the people from Citizens would say the same about him.” In fact, Bischoff said, “What I love about Neal is his enthusiasm, energy and commitment to doing the right thing for customers and for both businesses to make sure everyone wins.”
Throughout the event, Faulkner seemed to beam with pride. “This is just a great day. It’s the culmination of months of hard work, and it’s rewarding to see it all come together so well,” he said. “In addition to the benefits to our customers, there are a lot of benefits for both businesses. We’re able to share expenses as well as customers, and this type of arrangement could open doors for better real estate because you’d have a partner to help you invest in better property.”
Greg Daley, a Connecticut Dunkin’ Donut franchise owner at the event, said, “I’d be interested in doing this type of partnership 100 percent. We’re in the process of building out a store now and we’re looking at another use for the space. Instead of separate walls or entrances, this idea of more open lease-able space is great for exposure for the franchise owner and for the partner business. From an economic standpoint, having another profit center so to speak could be a huge win. Plus it doesn’t slow things down behind the counter or impact the shop’s operations. And you can’t beat the convenience for customers.”
As described in a joint press release from Citizens Bank and Dunkin’ Brands, the bank branch located inside the Bellingham Dunkin’ Donuts is a full-service branch with three teller windows, two private offices and a full-service ATM. The branch is open seven days a week: Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant is open every day from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and has a full-service drive-thru window. The Citizens Bank ATM is available to customers during the restaurant’s hours of operation.
As part of the partnership, Citizens is offering customers at the branch a $50 discount on home equity loans, a one-month coffee subscription for new checking accounts and a raffle for one-year of free Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
A Family Fun Event was held on Saturday, October 31. Children were invited to come dressed in their Halloween costumes. Radio station MAGIC 106.7 broadcast live and there were a variety of fun activities, including face-painting and a balloon artist.