Salt Lake City

In 2019, Salt Lake City saved 2,121 hours of staff time using OpenCounter

The Challenge 

Salt Lake City is experiencing tremendous growth in local business – over $1 billion in capital investment over the past 3 years–which means it needs resources to successfully serve its business development. The city’s business development department dedicated two staff members to help small businesses navigate the city processes. They view small businesses as their clients, representing them to the city and addressing needs and concerns.

One of the primary concerns was wait times for permits. About 14,000 customers would walk through the business development department doors each year, resulting in over 12,000 permits and more than 40,000 building inspections. The department has tens of thousands of customer interactions every year and within these interactions, there was inconsistent communication about what permits are needed. For example, if you spoke with a zoning person, they would tell you about the zoning requirements but would miss other subtleties within the project. Customer service needed improvement–staff felt it and wait times proved it.

The Solution 

OpenCounter provided Salt Lake City with zoning, business, and residential permitting software to:

  • Provide answers about zoning immediately, online (a task that would take even experienced staff members several minutes to hours each time)
  • Quickly offer a custom and holistic overview of the required permits and fees
  • Streamline communication
  • Speed up permitting requests

With OpenCounter, answers can be provided quickly and succinctly, without business owners having to find the
right department or staff member.

Salt Lake City’s OpenCounter makes it easier than ever for our businesses and entrepreneurs to receive the resources, support, and customer service they deserve. Ensuring City residents have the tools they need to thrive is fundamental in helping our City recruit and retain businesses, and improve the quality of life for all residents.

Erin Mendenhall, Salt Lake City Mayor

The Results 

Salt Lake City was able to reduce staff time spent on zoning lookups and permitting inquiries, allowing them to focus on
higher-value activities, while simultaneously improving the citizen experience by reducing the number of calls, emails,
and trips to government offices. In 2019, Salt Lake City saved an estimated 2,121 hours of staff time by processing 6,949
zoning, business, and residential permitting inquiries using OpenCounter.

2019 Results

  • 2,121

    Staff hours saved

  • 6,949

    Permit inquiries

  • <4 minutes

    Completion time

  • 95%

    Self-service rate

Using OpenCounter also enables Salt Lake City to see trends in construction time, use, and locations across the city.
This deeper analysis helps the city increase throughput and understand where they should dedicate resources to help
staff and citizens have a better permitting experience.

The single biggest reason for OpenCounter is it's an improvement to customer service. That ability for a customer to go through a self-guided experience is just so unique here, and it’s modern. It’s what people want. People want to be able to do research on their time, get a little bit of information, educate themselves, and then when they go to speak to someone in the city, those conversations are better because they’re not starting from scratch.

Nole Walkingshaw, Deputy Director of Public Services