Parking Accounting Software to Improve Your Bottom Line
By Ruth Beaman and Kyle Cashion
One thing that keeps parking owners and operators awake at night is the question of whether they are leaving money on the table. Are they operating efficiently enough? Are they receiving all of the revenue to which they are entitled? Is all of the money that’s being collected making it to the bank? These questions have haunted owners and operators for decades, and for many, these concerns persist.
The good news is that the technology revolution that has reached the parking industry is easing some of these worries. Access and revenue control equipment, mobile technologies, and revenue management software are today making parking management more efficient than ever before, and this has had a beneficial impact on owner and operator profitability.
And now, the final frontier of parking technology is finally being breached with the introduction of parking software designed specifically for the industry. As with most cash businesses, parking has historically taken a somewhat informal approach to parking. Booth attendants collect money, and hopefully all of that money makes it into the register.
Believe it or not, some smaller parking operations still store cash in cigar boxes! The problem is, when accounting is handled so casually, owners and operators can’t keep track of what’s going on with their balance sheets. And they leave themselves open to cash losses from both inadequate record keeping and theft.
Traditional approaches to accounting are also incredibly time-intensive and mistake-prone. Too many parking owners and operators still rely on hand-entry when it comes to recording accounting information. They collect their receipts, enter parking and revenue data by hand, and then hope for the best. Unfortunately, “the best” is rarely what they get. More often, data entry mistakes undermine the accuracy of the spreadsheets and necessitate costly and time-consuming audits to figure out where mistakes occurred.
Fortunately, parking accounting software can help owners and operators avoid all of these challenges. The software works in close coordination with access and revenue control equipment, recording how many vehicles enter and leave a parking facility, and how much revenue should have been generated by those vehicles. That information is then automatically posted to the facility’s financial statement.
In addition to providing much more accurate information than can be recorded through manual entry, the software essentially eliminates the risk of theft, because there’s no way for the money to be hidden. The software tells owners and operators how much money they should have at the end of the day; and if it’s not all there, they know there’s a problem they need to look into.
For owners and operators with multiple parking locations, the software also can provide comparative analysis across locations, telling them which are profitable and which are underperforming. It also can provide guidance into where certain types of parkers (e.g., transient vs. permit) should be parking so owners with multiple locations can increase the value of each facility by directing permit parkers to locations with spaces that are less attractive to daily parkers, and saving prized daily spaces for transient parkers.
Another way that parking accounting software can benefit the bottom line is through dealings with credit card companies, which have been known to underpay (though interestingly, they never seem to pay an operator too much!). With all of the credit card transactions that happen in a typical day in a parking facility, it can be difficult — if not impossible — to keep track of whether the credit card companies are actually paying out at the proper levels. With automated accounting, the software can handle this task as a matter of course, keeping the credit card companies honest.
Similarly, parking accounting software can manage recurring payments from monthly parking tenants seamlessly. The software automatically communicates with parking tenants to remind them when a payment is due, and when an automated payment is received, the software records the payment. The software can then automatically issue the necessary permit. This is a vast improvement — both in terms of staff productivity and accuracy — over the traditional approach that required staff to open mail and sort through checks, figure out who has paid, issue a hang tag or other form of permit, and then mail it to the tenant.
The technology revolution that has transformed parking over the past decade is finally changing the way that parking owners and operators handle their accounting. By automating their accounting with software developed specifically for the parking industry, owners and operators are able to keep better track of how much money they are earning and how much they are actually collecting. At the same time, these software tools are making day-to-day operations more efficient and effective. This is great news for their bottom lines.
Ruth Beaman and Kyle Cashion are Principals of IntegraPark, the parking industry’s leading provider of accounting software. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and him at email@example.com.