Traffic at the Hettinger Dacotah Bank branch could increase since it was recently announced that the branch operating in Regent will be closing towards the end of the year.
By COLE BENZ
The announcement comes just over a month after it came out that Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing would be closing it’s Regent location and moving those operations to Hettinger.
According to a press release issued by Dacotah Bank, low daily customer traffic was cited as the factor in the decision to shut the door, which will occur on Dec. 15 of this year. Their branch in Cresbard, S.D. is also slated to be closed for the same reason.
In a phone conversation with Dacotah Bank CEO Joe Senger, he said that the bank monitors the traffic almost daily through their amount of teller transactions.
“The review of those is ongoing,” Senger said. “We have the mechanics— so-to-speak—in place that we’re able to measure that through frankly our teller platform and daily transactions.”
For the customers, it’s business as usual until the last day.
“Our primary concern is that customer, can we get that customer transferred to one of our other locations? In this case Hettinger and/or Lemmon,” Senger said. “And certainly with all our online banking features we have…they have that opportunity.”
Senger said that customers most effected by the change will be on the deposit side of operations. The lending function is primarily done through the Hettinger location.
“There should be very little, if any, transition needed for any so-to-speak, borrowing customers,” he said.
Senger admitted that it’s a hard decision, but that this is the trend in rural areas with the increased practice of online banking. And Senger said it’s been a steady, steady decline in traffic.
“There’s no doubt the online features, the technologies, that are in place [now] that weren’t even just a few years ago, helps any customer base,” he said. “It’s unfortunate what’s happened in some rural markets.”
But rural banks also face other challenges other locations do not, like staffing issues.
“At the end of the day we have to make a tough business decision and close some of those and reallocate those resources in other ways,” he said. “We understand there’s an impact there. But certainly there are other banking opportunities within Dacotah Bank whether that be Hettinger, [or] online.”
The future of the building is still undecided. Singer said that they are willing to work with any potential buyer.
“There’s no doubt [that] there’s been some interest in it,” he said.
According to the press release, the company is working with four affected employees about some options and future opportunities.
Dacotah Bank is based in Aberdeen, S.D. and has locations in Hettinger and Lemmon, S.D.