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Over the last year and a half, the Bermex team in Austin, Texas has experienced its fair share of change. Under the leadership of Operations Manager Phillip Hollis, their current project has been renewed and he credits a team of four women with just the right experience to help lead the charge.
Before transitioning to management roles, Alejandra Balcazar, a meter services supervisor; Hannah Bell, a meter services supervisor; Mercedes Salas, a meter services supervisor; and Hannah Summer, a validator/reviewer specialist, all started at Bermex as meter readers. While reflecting on their time in the field, they shared that they would read 500-600 meters a day and walk up to 20 miles a day.
“What they bring to the table from being readers helps them on the management end to be able to make the decisions they need to make for this operation to be successful. They know what it’s like to be out there reading. They know what the readers are up against, they know what the routes are like, and what is expected of them,” says Michael Wilson, a meter services supervisor who serves on the Bermex Ready Force Team.
As a validator, Summer reviews meter readers’ high and low audits in live time. Each field employee must take a picture of each meter to showcase the number – if it gets flagged as high or low based on the previous month’s read, Summers looks at it. Validators approve a few thousand reads a day or they send them back so the employees can fix their reads.
The rest of the team, as supervisors assign routes to the meter readers, check in on them throughout the day, adjust routes throughout the day to complete the cycles more efficiently, and more.
“They have a lot they’re taking care of here. They have their teams that you can see in Workday, but they take care of all 50-plus people out in the field. Here in Austin, the routes are spread all over the entire city – every day. Logistically, they’re going through and seeing who needs to go where so we can get everything taken care of by the end of the day. The work they’re doing is very important, tedious, and involved,” says Wilson.
One important change the team of four has noticed is a shift in communication – for the better.
“Now, we make sure that everybody is communicated to well, fairly, and everybody gets the same message,” says Bell.
Balcazar reflects on the previous lack of communication and adds, and on top of that, they were low-staffed for a long time which led to putting in 14-hour days and working weekends.
“Having all of us in the office, the communication is much better. The readers get less frustrated. They just want to get their stuff done and go home. We’ve been leaving pretty early with everyone’s hard work, too,” says Salas.
Summers agrees. She shares, “One of the most rewarding parts about this job is whenever we can successfully communicate well. We can be faced with hard days sometimes and the fact that we’re all able to communicate very well makes it so this job can be easier. Whereas before, we had issues where we couldn’t communicate with each other, and it caused issues for the meter readers. Being able to have a good, solid group in the office has allowed the field employees to get their routes cleared and done faster.”
With the work of Hollis over the last many months, the team recognizes several other improvements – better communication, hours, salaries, staffing, and more.
Wilson notes that these changes wouldn’t have been possible without Balcazar, Bell, Salas, and Summer.
“I really didn’t want them to transition to their new roles because of the number of meters they were putting up – they are strong readers. It was a hard thing to pull them from the field. But I knew it was for the best and they’ve been able to help bring new people in and keep them here,” says Wilson.
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