Turn Off the Features of My Revenue System
March, 2007I can hear the tags on the collar around my neck rattling as I shake my head. I was blown away by this one.
Last week, I was doing a training session for a vendor of revenue control equipment. It doesn’t matter which one; I can run a number of them. In this case, I was familiarizing the asset manager of the property where the system was installed. It was a pretty full-blown system with positive posting, anti-passback, nesting and all the trimmings.
For those of you who don’t know, positive posting is an automatic system where cards cannot be turned on or off by the garage manager. They are assigned to accounts, and the system knows how much is due on each card each month. It is up to the operator to then post money to the account as they are paid and the cards are automatically activated by the system. If the money isn’t posted, the cards are turned off automatically on a certain day each month. The operator has no control over the “turn-off.”
This ensures that each card that is active in the system is connected to a valid account and that the account is paid each month. The daily report shows exactly how much should have been deposited. There is no room for error.
If you have been reading this column over the past few years, you know that one major area of revenue loss in parking facilities is leaving cards active when the account has been terminated. In the vast majority of locations I audit, when I run a card list, there are more cards turned “on” than show in the operator’s billing file. And in many cases, they show activity.
There are two reasons for this. The first is simple error. When a person leaves and notifies the operator that he is leaving, the account is terminated, but the card is not turned off. It may or may not be given by the person to their replacement.
The second reason is more complicated. Someone in the garage can turn on the cards and sell them “under the table” for cash to parkers. These side deals appear no where. The thief -- and that’s what he or she is -- simply tells a parker that if they want to pay in cash, there is a discount of, say, 50%. So a $200 permit becomes a $100 permit ... and the owner never sees the money.
Both of these issues are resolved by positive posting.
Oh, but back to my collar-rattling head shaking.
The problem was that the asset manager – now remember, this is the owner’s representative – told me he wanted positive posting turned off, and anti-passback, too. I was stunned. I could hardly get the question out: “Why?”
Well, I was told, if for some reason a person is late paying or the operator posts to the wrong account, a card could be turned off by mistake and the asset manager would get the phone call. The same is true of anti-passback. He wanted an easy, and quiet, life.
I have seen a large number of locations that run with hard passback and positive posting. After a couple of months of training – training the customers, that is – the systems run relatively flawlessly.
The operators take extreme care with the posting; they don’t want to be on the end of the phone with the asset manager. The customers ensure that they pay on time. They don’t want the employees to be locked out and told that their bill hadn’t been paid.
It’s a self-correcting system.
I’ll bet that this asset manager will have his rear in the sling if the owner heard about this. Certainly, you want to service your tenants, but at the same time, you want to ensure that you run a business, not a free-parking zone.
Hints for the month
to asset managers:
1. Keep the controls you paid for in your revenue control system turned on.
2. Read the monthly management reports from the operator, and ask about anything you don’t understand.
3. Be certain that all the expenses in the management report are for your garage and that either advertently or inadvertently expenses from other locations are not charged to you. This includes the expenses for a manager, utilities and supplies. I was stunned when I discovered that one of my customer’s garages was going through 100 rolls of toilet paper a month – with five employees.
4. If you have part-time employees, ensure that you aren’t being billed for 100% of their payroll, medical insurance and pension plans.
5. Check how much you are being charged for payroll processing – $100 a month to process five employees’ checks is a bit high, I would think.
6. If you have a full-time bookkeeper in the garage (many large ones do), are you charged a bookkeeping charge in addition to his or her salary? If so, why?
More next month.