State & Local Government

City of Reno – Business Licensing

 

The Challenge: Improve service levels-even during times of budget cuts

New business owners found Reno’s Business Licensing processes confusing and frustrating, often waiting months to receive their licenses and dealing with unexpected fees.  At the same time, business license employees wanted to provide good customer service, but procedures hampered their efforts. 

Coordination was difficult at best, since the City’s Fire, Building, Zoning and Finance departments, as well as the Washoe County Health Department were involved in approving new license applications.  To complicate matters more, Environmental Control was not part of the approval process; their new businesses inspections occurred weeks later, resulting in unexpected fees and unhappy customers.  

The Streamline Consulting Solution: Create a process flow that makes better use of resources and eliminates bottlenecks.

The City, which is committed to exceptional service, even during times of severe budget cuts, responmded by hiring Streamline Consulting to improve overall processes and customer satisfaction.

Streamline Consulting facilitated a team of front line employees in a lean week project.  Team members included representatives from the City Business License Division, Fire Prevention, Environmental Control, and Building Division, and the Washoe County Health Department.  Zoning and Finance also participated as subject matter experts and the Business Relations Manager served as sponsor.  

The team spent one week analyzing the current process, getting approvals for and implementing solutions and measuring the results.

Major changes included:

  • Improved business license guide and website information for customers
  • Business license staff conducts inspection triage using a revised and more steamlined business review form
  • Revenue officers conduct site visits on all new applications
  • Fire Prevention and Environment Control inspection fees are now collected at the time of application rather than weeks or months later
  • Customers needing fire inspections get their fire inspector’s name and phone number at the time of application
  • A database rather than a manual spreadsheet is used to communicate between departments
  • Environmental Control in now included in the approval process
  • The Washoe County Health Department also has access to the City database systems
  • Task frequencies are increased to prevent work bubbles and to reduce waiting times
  • Applications expire after 6 months, with 30 day notice follow up letters
  • Layout sketches that were previously required for home based businesses were eliminated
  • Measurement systems were implemented to highlight backlogs, completions and cycle times

The Result:  Within one week the team achieved $99,138 per year in financial impact and 42% reduction in time to process a business license.  Within 3 months the processing time was down over 80%.

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