How Naive can someone be


How Naive can someone be

I got a call yesterday from a businessman in a major city in the US. He told me that he owned an off airport operation and had been bilked by his employees. He was frustrated and couldn’t believe that the people he had hired and trusted had taken him for a cleaning.

He is not in the parking business but had some land near the airport and decided that this was a cash cow and opened a parking lot. He hired a manager who hired some staff and they were off and running. He would go by weekly and pick up the receipts.  He though it strange that there was very little cash and most of the income was from credit cards. However he had other interests and let the parking operation sort of run itself.

One day he awoke from his slumber to find that his employees were keeping all the cash. He didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t close since he had hundreds of cars on the lot, he didn’t want to go run it himself, and when he threatened his staff, they said that they would walk leaving him high and dry.

When I asked him why he didn’t hire a legitimate operator to run it, he said he didn’t think it was large enough (300 cars at a major airport). I asked him why he didn’t call the cops and he said he considered it. The problem it seems was that he had been distracted by his other interests and when he got back to his parking operation, it was too late.  The inmates were in charge of the asylum and he seemed unable to wrench control back from them.

He has since closed the business, leased the lot to a nearby operation to use as overflow, and now is trying to "get" the employees. 

Parking is not a simple business. It requires more supervision than most businesses. Its complex, but not that complex. You must be hard, you must fire when necessary, and you must, absolutely, keep control of the cash box. There is just too much temptation to put in front of most people without the proper controls in place.

As the Gipper said, trust but verify. My caller trusted by didn’t verify and he ended up with a disaster. He is frustrated and angry. And I can sympathize. However it goes to show that as with all businesses, you must, MUST, run the business, not let it run itself.

I started to tell this story to friend in the parking business and he started to laugh. Before I got a paragraph out he said "how much did they take him for?"   Of course it will be difficult to tell, but 300 cars (and the lot was mostly full) at even $10 a day is $3,000 a day. You do the numbers.

A very expensive lesson.


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John Van Horn

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