Time to get back to the blog.

At the annual Florida Sterling Conference they always tell us that it okay to use someone else’s best practice.  It makes sense not to reinvent the wheel but from my experience it rarely happens.

Each year we do thousands of appointments for our customers so they don’t have to wait.  It also helps us better manage the crowds.  Out IT staff developed a very slick application developed in Fox Pro to manage it and we used it for years.  The only problem was that our staff had to book the appointments and Fox Pro was discontinued in 2007.  So recently we began to look a new more innovative approach.



After much due diligence and comparison of several systems we ended up going with a web based application that was already used by the Alachua (Gainseville) and Okaloosa (Crestview) County Tax Collector offices. The photos provided were matrices written up on a wall to look over all the options each system had available.  It looked so impressive we hated to erase it.

The online appointment system went live Monday February 2nd but wanted to share what it took to make it happen:

  • 508 cumulative hours spent (research, testing, meetings, set-up, training, etc.)
  • 37 FAQs updated on website
  • 33 Customer Information Publications updated
  • 11 webpages on taxcollector.com updated (1 of which was created for appointment-related transactions)
  • Media release announcing system rollout
  • Brand new “Schedule Appointment” button on front page of taxcollector.com
  • Revamp of our lobby PC interface (layout, added new section to schedule an appointment)
  • 102 email templates and 19 recorded voice transaction boxes updated
  • 90 staff members trained on using new system (front line staff, receptionists, and field service staff)
  • Manual input of 652 appointments into the new appointment system that were scheduled in the old appointment system for February and March

In the first four days 573 appointments were scheduled

  • 476 (83%) of which were scheduled by customers online
    • 79 were scheduled while the office was closed
    • Various times of the day; i.e. 7 PM, 9 PM, 1 AM, 5 AM

Assuming that it previously took our associates an average of 2 minutes to schedule an appointment in our old appointment system, those 476 online customer-scheduled appointments saved our associates 952 minutes of processing (almost 16 hours or 2 man days).

With the new online appointment system, we are averaging over 140 appointments scheduled/day.

In the old appointment system, only offering during our working hours (9 AM- 5 PM) during the last week prior to rollout (January 26 – January 30), we averaged 72 appointments scheduled/day.


Bauman Retirement

Bob Bauman Retires

In 1998  Bob Bauman a semi-retired industrial engineer and his wife Diana moved to Bradenton, FL  from South Dakota to be closer to his mother.  I do not remember how he found out about the office but he started his career on January 26, 1998 as a front line associate.

It wasn’t long before we put his engineering background to good use doing time and motion studies on some of of our processes to improve efficiency.  His data on one project was used on a driver license cost benefit analysis required by the Florida Legislature when talks began about shifting the duties from the State to the County Tax Collectors.  The transition eventually became law a few years ago set to be completed by July 2015.

Bob spent most of his career in our IT Department where he served on the help desk and as the project manager.  He had the perfect demeanor for resolving IT related problems and over the years solved thousands of them.

He was selected Employee of the Quarter in 2002 and was our lone and proud Minnesota Vikings fan.  He almost retired a few years back but agreed to stay on a little longer for us of which we are extremely grateful..

Bob and Diana will be moving to Utah to be closer to family.  We wish you all the best!

Evoke Training


“Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.”

― Vince Lombardi

In our line of work the hardest part of the job has to be when a manager needs to counsel an employee about an error they made which possibly inconvenienced a customer. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s life and it happens.  We call them ECR’s which is short for Employee Counseling Records.  A simple transposition of  a VIN (vehicle id number), date, dollar amount, or an address can dramatically change the outcome of a transaction.

In an effort to reduce ECR’s,  my Current Collections Director, Tony Conboy, recommended that we look into Evoke Development, a Florida based company.  They offer unique training courses that “saves you money, increases productivity, and improves operational efficiency. Employees who complete accuracy training typically reduce their errors by 50% and increase their processing speed by 7%.”  We also took advantage of the “train the trainer” program which enabled our staff to conduct the training after they were trained. Our Quality Assurance staff was the obvious choice to be the trainers.

To date we have had 51 employees participate in the seven hour course.  We generally do an afternoon class with a morning class the following day.  So far we have had a 59% reduction in errors (104 pre-course assessment errors, 43 post-course assessment errors).  We have also had a 1% decrease in speed (6 minutes 30 seconds average on pre-course assessment, 6 minutes 35 seconds average on post course Assessment).  Eight staff members made zero mistakes on the pre-course assessment compared to twenty-four on the post course assessment.

I had the opportunity to participate with seven employees in the February 12-13 classes.  They were all wondering how I would do since I have an aptitude for quickly calculating numbers in my head.  Turns out it has nothing to do with the course. On the pre-course I made five errors in 6 minutes 50 seconds.  On the post-course I made one error in 7 minutes 28 seconds.  This basically confirmed what I already knew; my staff can run circles around me.  Of the 51, we had a handful achieve perfect scores in under 5 minutes; to me, that is mind boggling.

Time will tell if we see less ECR’s due to accurate data transfer.  On ten random exit surveys the staff had high marks rating the trainer with a 99 out of 100 possible points and the actual training course 95 out of a possible 100 points. For me, I ranked them 100/100. I thoroughly enjoyed the training.

For more information on Evoke Development you can find them at http://evokedevelopment.com/.


Put It Down

Manatee County Tax Collector and AAA Auto Club
Promote “Delete Texting” with New Driver Signature Banner

The Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office and The AAA Auto Club have installed a “Don’t Text While Driving” banner in the lobby of the Tax Collector’s DeSoto office, 819 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton, where driver licenses are issued.

Put It Down Tyler Dyson, a student at Braden River High School,  is the first new driver in Manatee County to make the pledge.

Field Deputy Dominic Fragomeni, New Tyler Dyson, and Ken Burton, Jr.

Field Deputy Dominic Fragomeni, Tyler Dyson, and Ken Burton, Jr.

“We installed the banner for new drivers who have just passed their driver’s road skills test to sign, indicating their commitment not to text when they are behind the wheel,” said Tax Collector Ken Burton Jr. “To align with our core value of community and social responsibility, we take our role as driver license examiners and road skills testing deputies very seriously because of the risks these new drivers face.”

According to National Health and Safety Administration, two primary killers on the road are cell phones and other teen passengers. It is the foremost reason that the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving state law went into effect in October.

The Tax Collector’s Office conducts at least 2700 road skills tests a year. Once the student passes the driving test and is waiting to receive their new driver license, they will be invited to sign the banner to indicate their commitment not to text and drive.

“We want to do all we can to encourage these new drivers to think before they decide to pick up their cell phones in their cars,” Burton said. “Keeping them safe is our priority.”

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The mission of the Manatee County Tax Collector’s office is to perform our duties
with integrity and respect, focusing on innovation and serving with excellence.
Governor’s Sterling Award Recipient 2011



Below is the state of Florida media release.  Manatee County is recognized as one of the top 20 priority Counties targeted due to the number of residents that are over the age of 65.

Target CountiesFlorida Focuses on Keeping Seniors Safe and Mobile

Manatee Crash Stats

Manatee Crash Stats

As retirees trade in their snow boots for sandals and head to the Sunshine State, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offers these tips to promote safe travels for seniors living and visiting Florida:

  • Plan your day so that you do most of your driving when visibility is greatest and traffic is lightest, such as mid-morning and after lunch.
  • Plan your route to minimize left turns.
  • Look twice before making a turn or entering an intersection.
  • Minimize lane changes. When you change lanes, be sure to use your signals.
  • Turn the volume on your radio down or turn off the radio completely.
  • Have your vision and hearing tested annually.
  • Take your vehicle to a CarFit event to have technicians adjust it to get the right fit for you. (The Safety is Golden Mobility Fair in Tamarac Dec. 5 will offer CarFit and other resources. Click here for event details.)
  • Heed warning labels on medications. Even prescriptions drugs can impair driving and judgment.
  • Consider alternative transportation options.

In Florida, drivers must renew their driver license every eight years and take a vision test every time they renew their driver license in an office, which is at least every 16 years. When drivers reach age 80, they must pass a vision test every time they renew.  They may take the test in a driver license office or have a licensed physician give the Mature Driver Vision Test.  If the driver passes the vision test, the license is renewed for six years.

Sometimes, family members, friends or others notice that a driver’s fitness to drive safely has become questionable. Addressing driving plans before a crisis occurs is a good idea. When a heart-to-heart doesn’t address the issue, DHSMV has a process for reporting medically at-risk drivers who may be unsafe to drive.  In Florida, anyone can report a driver who may be unsafe to drive because of a medical condition.  The Department keeps the report strictly confidential. The Medical Reporting Form is available online. DHSMV reviews every report to determine the best course of action to take. The goal is not to revoke the driver’s license, but rather to ensure a medical condition is not interfering with safe driving.

Drivers who decide to surrender their license may obtain a Florida identification card. Whether getting a driver license or an ID card, Floridians of all ages should visit www.GatherGoGet.com before going to an office. Those who served honorably in our nation’s military may choose to add a veteran designation to their license. Veterans should be sure to bring a DD-214 that proves their service and pay a one-time, $1 fee, in addition to the renewal fee. If a veteran’s license is not eligible for a renewal, he/she can pay $2 to get a replacement with the veteran designation on it.

Most seniors are good drivers, and there are a number of resources available to help them stay mobile and independent. The Safe Mobility for Life Coalition’s website, www.safeandmobileseniors.org, is full of information and resources for aging drivers and their families. DHSMV is an active member of the coalition. You can learn more about DHSMV at www.flhsmv.gov and on Facebook.



Nearly 1,500 customers were turned away at the Desoto Branch office from October 21st to 23rd because our connection (as well as 300 other Tax Collectors offices statewide) to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is connected with antiquated technology. None of our local  fiber based technologies were affected in the same time frame.

The letter is written to the state’s Department of Management Services not the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles because they manage many administrative functions for all the sixteen state agencies.

Although I have no control over the issue, I can say I am sorry to the 1,500 customers that were impacted and I can write a letter to the person in charge about and share an opportunity for improvement.

Craig Nichols Letter

Delete Texting T-Shirts

Our Field Services and Collection Department modeling the t-shirts.  Front row Susan Profant and Sue Sinquefield, Back row Michele Schulz, Vicky Zartman, Michelle Leeson, Sharon Rowan, Frankie James and Tanya Ranney

Delete Teen CrashesThe Manatee County Tax Collectors Office staff will be dressing in white “delete texting” t-shirts to participate in the Delete Teen Crashes Awareness Day, Tuesday, October 15.

The Tax Collector began administering road skills testing April 2011, when the Office took over driver license duties from the State.  Since that time the Road Testing Examiners have offered and conducted driver preparedness presentations at all Manatee County public high schools.

“Because this aligns with our core value of Community and Social Responsibility, and being so closely involved with teen drivers, we made the decision for every employee to wear white to show our support for what was formerly known as ‘White Out Teen Crashes Awareness Day’,” said Tax Collector Ken Burton Jr.  “This year the name changed to ‘Delete Teen Crashes Awareness Day’ but the focus is still the same. Traffic crashes remain the number one killer of teens.”

Put It DownAccording to National Health and Safety Administration, two primary killers on the road are cell phones and other teen passengers. It is the foremost reason that the new Florida Ban on Texting While Driving state law will go into effect October 1st.

“To quote the old Florida Highway Patrol slogan,” said Burton, “it is our goal to encourage all drivers to ‘arrive alive’.”

Note – Special thanks to Frankie James for organizing the project for the office.

Fast Tube by Casper

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