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Port St. Lucie’s building department adds drive-thru for customers on the go
BY SUSAN BURGESS
It’s customer service on overdrive. Never again will contractors have to stand in line at the Port St. Lucie Building Department to file documents and pick up permits.
Port St. Lucie’s building department is the first in the nation to open a contractor drive-thru window to reduce wait time and increase efficiency. And, good news, it is also for anyone who wants to drop off or pick up documents at the building department, or just quickly ask where to find help in any city department.
“I just love it. I can’t tell you how much I love it,” says Sunshine Perez, wife of contractor Roger Perez, who owns Your Local House Doctor, a renovation company. She is in and out of the building department all the time with documents relating to his renovation work.
Now she doesn’t have to park or walk in the rain or heat to go inside, she says. She brought her three boys with her recently. One wasn’t feeling well and she was glad she didn’t have to take him out of the car.
It takes her less than five minutes to get her business done. As someone who spends a lot of time on the road taking her children various places and helping her husband with his business, she says the reduced time at the building department makes a real difference.
Making a difference is just what building official Joel Dramis hoped for. “It meets the needs of our customers,” he says. October 2019 was the busiest month in over a decade, with an upswing in sales and local and out-of-town contractors and residents coming to the building department, he explains.
“When it gets really busy in here people can wait for 45 minutes to an hour in the lobby,” he says. “We are big fans of customer service here, and you can’t just brush people off when they finally get their turn.”
The drive-thru window solves that problem. A drop-off box, which was installed a year ago, helps too. It can be used 24/7, and the box is checked twice a day, Dramis says. He also installed a concierge in the lobby who can answer almost any city question that comes up.
One of the good things about the drive-thru is that people who have questions about where to do something can drive up and ask, Dramis points out. For example, the person at the window can tell them where to pay a utility bill, when the next hazardous waste drop-off is, how to reach their councilman or woman, where to volunteer to pick up litter and much more.
For his innovative ideas and setting a good example, Dramis was honored as 2019 Building Official of the Year by the Building Officials Association of Florida.