Is it time for more training?

According to the statistics for this blog, one of the top five all time posts is this one dealing with training new hires.

Funnel effect

One of the reasons this post is in the top five may be people typing “funnel effect” into a search engine and finding this image. A picture is said to be worth a thousand words, and this one definitely is!

I believe it is important for new hires to get off to a great start. Getting good training is a key to insuring that good start. Who better to train your new hires in the use of your billing software than your vendor’s trainers?

Not just new hires

In nearly 35 years of working in this field, I’ve found that software users generally fall into one of two categories:

  • Those who venture only where they’ve been taught to go
  • Those who will try everything and go everywhere

Even as adventuresome users who fall into the second category, many of us are creatures of habit. We become comfortable with a certain way of doing things and fall into predictable patterns. Remember the TTWWADI syndrome post from six weeks ago?

I’m often surprised when I visit customers and realize some of the things they aren’t doing that they could be with our software. More surprising, are some of the things they do as workarounds that they could be doing with the software.

Is it time for a business review?

If you’re satisfied with your billing software and it’s been a couple years since you’ve received training or had someone from your software vendor review your operation, maybe it’s time for a business review.

If you’re not satisfied with your current software, then it’s definitely time for a business review. Taking the time to conduct a business review before starting the search for new software can help facilitate the replacement process.

Is your office operating as efficiently as it could be?

Are you taking advantage of all the features of your software? Could your business office operate more efficiently? If you’re not sure, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at to learn how a business review could benefit your utility.

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© 2014 Gary Sanders

Could this happen to your utility…?

Recently, I received a call from the town manager of one of our customers who is also a subscriber to the Utility Information Pipeline. The town had experienced a number of customers with higher than usual usage in their most recent meter reading cycle and were trying to determine the cause.

Meters are like people

They had taken all the steps you would expect and still hadn’t found a reason why so many readings were out of range. They:

  • reread the meters and verified the meter readings were indeed correct,
  • checked with the customers in question and none of them had experienced any abnormal usage or leaks,
  • consulted with the meter manufacturer and their local Rural Water Association.

In the process, they were told “meters are like people – they slow down, not speed up, as they get older”. That’s one I’ve not heard before, but it’s a great way to explain how meters operate in a way customers can understand!

Following best practices

As we discussed the town’s predicament, the manager casually mentioned the one thing all of these accounts have in common – the meter reader who usually reads this route was out sick when the meters were read.

Unfortunately, this town manager subscribed to the Utility Information Pipeline just a few weeks after this article dealing with meter reading best practices was published, and the town wasn’t following the very first recommendation.

In the end, the only reasonable explanation for why so many meters experienced exceptionally high usage was that they couldn’t have been being read accurately in the past. Whether this was due to dishonesty, laziness, or just plain stupidity on the part of the meter reader may never be known.

What I do know is this town now rotates meter reading routes between meter readers!

Are you following best practices?

Are you following all the best practices you could be? If you’re not sure, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at to learn how a business review could benefit your utility.

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© 2014 Gary Sanders