Best Practices

Mayor E. Oberndorf

Per Inquiry Television Campaign

A successful advertising campaign designed to lure businesses to the City of Virginia Beach is beginning its second year. Under the direction of the city's Department of Economic Development, 30 and 60 second television spots are now running nationwide on a per inquiry basis. This means the city pays only for qualified inquiries, not for time and space. The spots were developed by Barker, Campbell and Farley, the city's advertising agency.

Virginia Beach received approximately 1,600 inquiries during the last campaign. To date, one business has moved to Virginia Beach as a direct result of the campaign, and two moves are pending.

The spots feature Virginia Beach business leaders delivering testimonials about why they have located or expanded their businesses in Virginia Beach. The spots air on CNBC, A&E, Lifetime and news stations in New York and Washington, D.C., and can be seen on such programs as the Wall Street Journal Report and It's Your Business. A brochure and video featuring more extensive interviews and information are available for businesses requesting more information.

The first spots featured Lillian Vernon of Lillian Vernon Corp., Ben Tomb of CIGNA, Inc., and Fred White, President of Stihl, Inc. Recent spots feature Ms. Vernon, Timothy B. Robertson, President and Chief Executive Officer of International Family Entertainment (The Family Channel), and Richard T. Cheng, President and Chief Executive Officer, ECI Systems and Engineering, Inc. Both Robertson and Cheng cite the city's quality of life as a major reason for locating their companies in Virginia Beach. "We felt that the quality of life, good citizens, excellent school system, relative safety, easy access and the overall pleasant environment provided a terrific opportunity for us," said Robertson. Cheng concurred, saying, "Because of Virginia Beach's reputation for having a unique lifestyle, people we have recruited from other areas of the country have come here for less money than they would have gotten in other regions, such as the West Coast or Washington, D.C." Contact: Mark Wawner, (804) 499-4567 Funding Publications with Advertising When the Virginia Beach Public Information Office faced severe cuts in its publications budget, it proposed a program to accept advertising to fund publications. City Council supported the idea. A new citizen newsletter, Beach Advisory, was created for quarterly distribution to 60,000 citizens, with printing costs to be funded by advertisers in the community. The city's employee newsletter also began accepting ads, and a plan to sell ads in a citizen services directory was created.

A commission-only sales manager sells all ads and handles customer relations through the ad layout and proofing process. City staff write, edit and desktop publish the publications. Businesses in Virginia Beach have supported the program. All four issues of the quarterly citizen newsletter sold out last year. Printing of the employee newsletter is fully funded by ad sales. Sixty percent of the printing cost for the Citizen Services Directory will be funded by advertisers. This publication was one of the most requested city brochures. Funding for it had been cut in lean budget years and never restored. Ad sales for last year totaled $29,000 including revenue received for the Citizen Services Directory which will be published in 1995.

By creating partnerships with local advertisers, the City of Virginia Beach is increasing delivery of municipal information to citizens. Our business partners are satisfied with our product, as evidenced by the fact that most sign contracts to advertise in multiple issues and many re-sign contracts that expire. Cities and counties around the country have requested information about this innovative program. Our citizens appreciate the increased level of information. On a reader survey in the citizen newsletter, one wrote, " . ..consider it a great success. You have provided us with excellent information that I have found hard to find. Thanks."

Contact: Pamela M. Lingle, (804) 427-4271.


Automated Waste Collection

Prior to 1986, the City of Virginia Beach provided waste collection services manually utilizing three-man crews that averaged 500 homes per day. Workman's Compensation claims were approaching $250,000 annually due to employee injuries. Absenteeism was high because of the extensive manual labor required of employees. Extensive research revealed that the rapid growth of the city was going to result in increased expenditures due to the labor and capital intensive manual waste collection system.

An extensive financial and operational research study was performed to determine the feasibility of switching to a fully automated waste collection system. It was determined that this system would pay back within three years. The plan was to phase in the system as existing manual waste collection vehicles needed replacement, thereby reducing the up-front costs, with the primary allocation going to the purchase of automated containers. The research projected a substantial increase in productivity and a reduction in personnel and equipment that would be able to absorb the rapid increase in the additional homes being built each year.

The system was planned to be phased in over a four-year period. However, during the four years the city grew by an additional 15,000 houses, adding an additional year for the phase-in. The increase in productivity went from 500 homes per day for a three-man crew to 1,000 homes per day for one automated driver. Workman's Compensation claims dropped by 80 percent. Significant improvements were achieved in the working conditions for employees: elimination of manual labor, working in an enclosed cab of a vehicle rather than in the extreme weather conditions each season, more professionalism of the workforce, and general increase in the morale of employees. The overall workforce has been reduced from 195 employees in 1984-85 to 138, a 29 percent reduction in personnel. The overall savings to the taxpayers is amounting to approximately $4 million per year in the reduction of personnel, equipment, and operating expenditures.

The public has also benefitted by having a uniform large container to use for storage of waste between collection days, the relative ease of rolling the container to the street, and the general improvements of the aesthetics of neighborhoods. There are other benefits that have accrued by not having additional vehicles on the street: reduced traffic congestion, reduced damages to roadways from heavy truck loads, and reduced potential accidents and injuries.

Contact: Ralph Smith, (804) 427-4167

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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