Numerous changes in the past few months have reduced average wait times at Weld County Clerk and Recorder’s Greeley office
February 25, 2017
Avoid the lines
Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes offered the following tips to avoid longer wait times at the office:
» Avoid going at the beginning or end of the month.
» Avoid Mondays, Fridays and lunchtimes.
» Renew your plates online as long as you have up-to-date insurance and a current emissions test.
» Mail in your renewal with a check and proof of insurance and emissions test (just send a copy of insurance, not your actual card).
» Make an appointment online for Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays in the Greeley office.
Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes has a message for the community: Things are better.
In the spring of 2016, Koppes came under fire for long lines, poor office morale and holding up the works on new car purchases.
After average wait times hit the 90-minute mark, Koppes' office has whittled those down to 15 minutes.
That's the message Koppes has been waiting to share for months, since she first sent out a news release in May acknowledging higher-than-normal wait times.
And it's a big reason Koppes now says she can't wait for the County Council-approved audit of her office that came about due to complaints. The audit will begin in early March.
Here's how the clerk and recorder's office got there:
» A new kiosk system streamlined the waiting process.
» New internet wiring brought the office into the 21st century.
» More online options reduced the need for customers to visit the office.
» New desks specifically for car dealers and businesses reduced backlogs on title and tag work for residents.
Koppes and employees say the biggest reason for the steep reduction in wait times is the Nemo-Q system, a kiosk in place since September that manages customer flow and wait times. Customers use the touch-screen kiosk to select the service they want. The kiosk prints a ticket and directs the customer to the appropriate area. The system is supposed to cut down on confusion, and it also ensures customers get service from an employee with the most expertise with the customer's particular issue.
"I love it," said deputy clerk Nancy Navarro. "I get a lot of compliments from customers. They now don't dread coming to the motor vehicle office."
Some of the customers in line at lunchtime Tuesday still grumbled about wait times, even if they didn't want to do so on record. But lunchtime always brings longer waits, and the day after a holiday (President's Day) brought an expected rush of people, employees said.
The kiosk system was one of many changes that brought down wait times. This past year, Weld County IT workers found the clerk's office was still getting internet service through an old copper line. Along with the internet crashing, the old line often prevented employees from being able to process credit card payments. When customers had to leave the desk to go to the ATM, it held up the line further.
Since Koppes discovered the issue, the Colorado Department of Revenue took steps to address similar issues at clerk's offices across the state.
Along with the Nemo-Q system, the clerk's office has added separate sections for businesses and car dealerships and has put more emphasis on serving those groups. The clerk's office was singled out in a letter from notable car dealerships this past year as failing to get paperwork done in time.
For customers who finance vehicle purchases, it's important for dealers to get paperwork back from the county within 30 days because that information must be turned over to the banks associated with the financing. Dealers accused the clerk and recorder's office of taking 90-120 days at times.
That claim couldn't be substantiated, but the county failed to get paperwork done within 50 days numerous times, according to state data Koppes provided. And despite previous defensiveness, Koppes now says her office needs to do a better job.
"The ultimate target is two weeks behind the date we receive it," Koppes said. "I am extremely confident in my team here."
Then, and now, Koppes blamed factors "beyond her control," saying wait times weren't any worse than before her tenure, and added that car dealers were working with inaccurate information.
Some employees — then, and now — put the blame squarely on Koppes. Others — then, and now — say things are just peachy.
Perhaps the most inflammatory charge against Koppes was that her leadership style alienated employees and led to higher-than-normal turnover. Employees who wished to remain anonymous said then, and reiterated now, that a lack of experience as a result of that turnover drove wait times higher. Koppes also acknowledged an experience gap within the office.
"The queuing system has been a great help as we are able to assign different types of transactions to employees," Koppes said. "New employees coming to the line will not get (more difficult transactions) until they are more comfortable on the front line. The front line can be intimidating to people. We want to make sure we are setting our employee(s) up for success, not failure."
When it comes to office morale, Koppes said there are likely issues at any office anywhere. She said she doesn't think her relative youth (she's 30) set her back with longtime employees.
But it's clear in conversations with some employees changes Koppes made initially, including written job duties and expectations and other managerial decisions, were met with resistance.
"She didn't consult with her managers," another employee said. "Maybe she does now, but she did not before all of this mess."
Koppes has her own list of expectations taped to the wall behind her desk. She said she would never ask employees to do something she wasn't willing to do.
She said she wants employees to take ownership. Accused of being a micromanager, Koppes asserts the opposite. If there's a problem, she said, she not only wants an employee to bring it up, she wants them to offer suggestions to fix it.
That's key, she said, to ensuring success for the office for years to come.
"I want to get us to the point to where we're not the Titanic," Koppes said. "We're sailing along."
Tyler Silvy covers city and county government for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.