Oh, No! I Have to Go Meet With HR
February, 2011There is nothing more boring than HR. Human Resources. Wow! Forms, laws, hiring and firing. What a pain.
Nothing is more exciting to me than a stack of parking tickets to review, or a fine management agreement to help hold some feet to the fire. Or what about checking those expenses against internal records? Or – I get chills up my leg just saying it – confirming deposits against daily reports? Now that’s real auditing work.
Unfortunately, from time to time I do have to talk to the folks in HR. I guess they have their stories, too.
Let me tell you about a person we had in one of the garages I audited. I noticed from the time sheets that she had more than 120 days off in the last year. Huh? What was that all about? I repeatedly asked Human Resources for information and got none, so I went to the HR office and said I would wait until the head of the department was available. After a few minutes, I was ushered into the presence.
I explained the problem and was told that, yes, there is an issue and this employee needed to be counseled. I suggested that she be counseled into the unemployment line. But I was told that as far as HR and the union were concerned, this was the first time the problem had been noted, and it took at least three “counseling reports” before any action could be taken. I left with my tail between my legs.
Of course, the solution was for the employee’s manager to have written her up regularly so that if and when action needed to be taken, it could be. There is a process; what was needed was for the garage manager to follow it.
Another location has needed an assistant manager for six months. I have been trying to get one hired. My feeling was that in this jobs climate, surely a person could be found to fit the bill. (If this were an e-mail, I would put a smiley face here.)
I wanted to put up a sign in the garage advertising the position. HR was uncomfortable with that since my owner was offering a wage higher than was being paid for the same position in other garages. It was felt that this could cause dissention in the ranks. My position was that the folks upstairs at McDonalds were being paid that number; how could we attract good people if they could get more flipping burgers?
I understood HR’s position, but I needed an assistant manager.
I was also told that in this state, unemployment benefits were very generous, and in many cases, people could make more not working than working. The recent extension of unemployment benefits didn’t really help me in trying to fill the position. (With overtime – guaranteed – the position paid nearly $40K a year with benefits.)
So you can see why I would rather be surrounded with printouts and calculators.
Now let’s talk marketing. I have a garage in a fairly large city in the mid-South. It has about 1,500 available spaces. This garage is priced anywhere from 10% to 30% below other parking in the area. I have been trying to motivate the operator to market those spaces, but to no avail.
It seems to me that operators don’t see it in their best interests to sell spaces in garages where they have management agreements.
Look at it from their point of view. They get a phone call at their office from someone looking for parking. They have 10 lots they run in the area (one is mine). Seven of the lots are either owned or leased by the operator. If they put the person in my lot, they get, what, 10% of the fee as a commission. If they put the person in one of the others, they get 100%. Well, duh.
I like the operator; they do a good job. Short of changing the agreement to a lease, what to do?
I will suggest to my owner that he hire a marketing person to spend 100% of their time promoting and selling this garage. Assuming the cost of a space is $300, and this person could sell even 400 of the available 1,500 spaces, that would net $120,000 a month. If he or she cost 10% or even 15% of that, it would seem to me to be a good investment.
They could promote the garage in surrounding apartments and businesses; they could have contests and put up signs. They could cut deals with local car rental agencies for auto storage, and a few hotels nearby don’t have parking.
A bright person could make themselves a good living and really increase the base revenue of the facility.
In today’s jobs climate, it would seem to me that a lot of people on the street could fill this position … as soon as their unemployment benefits run out.