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The Pay Day Pony Express

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Brandon Johnson was in his office answering emails. Cally Murphy was delivering turkey sandwiches for a United Way event. Both of them got the alert when a client sent a short, nervous email. It was payday, and payroll had not gone through.

“Whenever I see the words ‘payroll’ and ‘isn’t there,’ I just go into response mode,” Brandon said.

He’s seen it before. Various roadblocks or technical difficulties can come up. This time, the payroll never made it through the final confirmation step.

“Their payroll was essentially paused, waiting for someone to approve it,” Brandon said.

But when it comes to payday, there is no time to casually figure things out. Hardworking employees are waiting for their paychecks, and they may need it that day.

“Whenever I see the words ‘payroll’ and ‘isn’t there,’ I just go into response mode,” Brandon said.

In this case, the businesses employees were on the road and would have no way of getting into a bank to sort things out.

Brandon sprang into action. He called the business owner to get confirmation on some details. Meanwhile, he looked up the information on the employees who needed their paychecks and found out where they did their banking.

“The quickest way is to deliver in person,” he said, explaining that he would manually bring cashier’s checks to the bank accounts of the employees. “It was a unique situation where the most convenient solution for the business and employees happened to be an in-person delivery rather than electronic delivery, believe it or not.”

“Wow,” the business owner was surprised. “You would do that?”

“Absolutely. Then we know without a doubt it went from my hand to the employee’s bank and when the deposit was made,” Brandon said.

With the owner’s thankful approval, Brandon arranged a few things and headed downstairs to get the cashier’s checks. He worked with Kevin, a relatively new frontline specialist, who was happy to join in on the special mission.

Kevin (left) and Brandon (right) worked together to get the paychecks delivered!

Two accounts were at Choice Financial and were a quick and easy deposit. The other three accounts were at various banks across town. Brandon hopped in his car to deliver the checks, what he later called “a fun field trip.” He drove across Fargo, forded a river (in his car, over a bridge), and even crossed state lines to deliver one of the checks. (Well, to Moorhead.)

“Sometimes, when electronic payroll doesn’t work out, we go old school,” he said with a laugh. “It’s like the Pony Express.”

While actual ponies were regrettably missing from this adventure, Brandon was able to deliver all the checks within an hour, leaving happy employees and a happy boss in his wake. Brandon also helped the business set up alerts for future payrolls, so they’re notified by email or text when payments are in that status.

“Sometimes, when electronic payroll doesn’t work out, we go old school,” he said with a laugh. “It’s like the Pony Express.”

All the while, Cally, who has also done this type of emergency mission before, saw the problem solved while she was out making deliveries. She was impressed — although, not surprised. “Brandon is always going out of his way for the customers,” she said. “It’s not super surprising to me to see that he made this extra step.”

As a follow-up, Brandon sent a card a few weeks later with some small gift cards as a special treat for the team.

Brandon says it’s all part of the #PeopleFirst culture that makes Choice unique.

“Choice empowers us to do these things,” he said. “ If there’s a sense that you’re doing the right thing, that’s enough. When we have the ability to do something about it, we know we can stop whatever we’re doing and focus on that.”