“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/.
Congratulations to our own Amy Hartwig, Mandie Ferguson, and Cindy Tibbetts for attaining the yellow belt status six sigma classification. They did it on their own time which makes it even greater accomplishment. Our office has been exposed to the Six Sigma process for many years on our Sterling/Baldridge Award process but we never had anyone formally attain a certification. In our business where we are faced with 800 changes to what we do each year it is imperative that we are constantly looking at our processes.
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a set of strategies, techniques, and tools for process improvement. It was developed by Motorola in 1981. Six Sigma became famous when Jack Welch made it central to his successful business strategy at General Electric in 1995. Today, it is used in many industrial sectors.
Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization (“Champions”, “Black Belts”, “Green Belts”, “Yellow Belts”, etc.) who are experts in the methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified value targets, for example: reduce process cycle time, reduce pollution, reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction, and increase profits.
For more information on six sigma click here.
We recently recognized three employees for achieving a 0% error rate from “scheduled quality control” and “other errors” for April, May, and June 2012.
So what does this mean for the average person?
scheduled quality control – every employee has 6 random pieces of work (4 title and 2 driver license transaction for our counter employees and 6 driver licenses transactions for our specialized driver license department employees) for each month (18 total for the quarter).
other errors – issues identified from specialized random audits during the specified quarter.
From these audits, any opportunity for improvement that bubbles up to the surface then becomes a training opportunity at a later date. Office wide training takes place every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 AM to 9AM prior to opening.
The following three had a perfect score on all 18 transactions:
- Nikita Goff works as a driver license expert in our Specialized Driver License Department at our Desoto office. She has been with us since 2009.
- David Brierton is an Associate II at our Desoto office working at the counter and in our Specialized Driver License Department. He also became full time in April 2011.
- David Verhoff is also an Associate Level II and works in our Quality Assurance Department.
During this time of the year, people ask me – when are we going to mail the tax bills? Well, here is how it works:
The Property Appraiser certifies the tax roll to our office . This year that took place on Monday November 2nd. By law we have twenty working days to get the bills mailed and be open for collection.
Since we only have one shot to mail 150,000+ tax bills, it is imperative to get it right.
We first have to make sure our numbers balance with the Property Appraisers numbers to know the data has successfully converted from their system to ours.
Second, we create a printable file of the certified tax roll and send it to our vendor.
Third, our vendor then provides samples that we review and review again to ensure the information is accurate and in the right place. The passage of Ammendment 1 in January 2008, has only further complicates the process.
Fourth, when we are comfortable with the bills, the mailing process begins. We do not mail all the bills all at once; they are staggered over a three to four days. This helps stagger your phone calls and emails so that we can better serve you in a timely manner and not over “tax” the staff, so to speak. Many of the calls we receive have nothing to do with our office as they pertain to property assessments or issues with one of the taxing authorities for whom we collect tax dollars. That information can be found in the tax insert that comes with the tax bill.
And after all this, it is then up to you to decide, when and how you are going to pay the taxes. Over 90% of the tax roll collections are done via mail or internet payments. The mortgage companies pay toward the end of the 4% discount period. We will collect 70% of the tax roll by the end of the year.
In recent years, we began meeting with the Property Appraiser and his staff in January to review the tax season, share ideas, suggestions, and concerns from both offices and look for ways to continually improve the process. In August. we meet again to follow up on action items to ensure we are moving forward.
Then we start the process all over again for the next year.