Photo caption: GARY BRANCH BUREAU of Motor Vehicles staff – Derrick, Tahkeila, Carmela, Charde, Teresa
When Derrick Adkins joined the Gary Bureau of Motor Vehicles as branch manager nearly 2 years ago, the transplant from downstate had a conversation with his staff. “Just give me 30 days. And if you don’t like what you see, then feel free to explore your opportunities professionally.”
No one has left. Today, the BMV branch in the Frank O’Bannon Center in downtown Gary carries the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles 2022 Small Branch of the Year banner.
A banner deserved, because Adkins, his team of 4 customer service reps and the assistant branch manager excelled in customer service.
“When you have a revolving door, it’s tough to perform at a high level because you’ll constantly find yourself training,” Adkins said. “But these individuals had made up in their minds that they were going to stay and that they were going to perform. I basically communicated to my team, that whatever we do, I want to be better than everybody else. But that’s our secret; I didn’t share it with anybody else. It kept the team motivated.”
Making it right for the staff made it right for customers, too. Maybe, because the branch is in a state office building in the city’s downtown, many of those customers are parents with small children and customers in hard hats and work clothes. They don’t have time to spend hours waiting in the BMV.
“Every Hoosier has to interact with the BMV,” said Linda Riggers, BMV Region One Manager for Lake County, Porter County, and a portion of LaPorte County. “You have to get a driver’s license or state ID to operate a motor vehicle or go see a medical professional. You have to have registration, valid plates.”
“How we execute those transactions are critical, because Hoosiers have no choice. They have to visit the BMV. Derrick and his team do an amazing job,” Riggers said.
Indiana BMV branches are categorized as small, medium, large, extra large, and super. Region One has 4 small branches; there are 29 small branches across the state. At the end of the year, regional managers write nominating letters for their branches based on customer compliments, how branches executed transactions, and staff morale.
Riggers added, “Every branch is successful. Some just shine a little brighter each year.”
Senior staff at the central BMV office in Indianapolis make branch of the year selections.
Adkins said he had no idea the branch was on the radar until they got the nomination. “I had no idea about branches of the year. My goal was just to come in here and be the best that I could be. I said to my team, ‘I just need you all to be the best that you can be, that way when we go home at the end of the day, we can feel good about coming back to work the next day.’”
“I didn’t have to twist arms or anything like that. They bought into the process and they loved it. And I think the most important part for the team is that they wanted to make sure they had somebody that was going to be a good leader for them. And I tell them every day, it’s not about me being a manager,” Adkins said.
Adkins said his boss, Riggers, has problems with him sometimes for spending so much time on the floor. “But I want to be engaged in what’s going on so that they can see that I’m not afraid to take on the angry customers and handle some of the very difficult transactions that they have to handle on a daily basis. With me interjecting myself into what they do has helped keep them motivated and helped them wanting to stay.”