Fundamentals of Revenue Control – a Game Plan
By Ruth Beaman and Kyle Cashion
Football teams that practice the fundamentals correctly – especially those that block and tackle well – and successfully execute their game plans are often the most consistent winners.
Parking operators can learn some valuable lessons from standout gridiron performances. Building a business plan on the fundamentals of revenue control can result in fewer losses and all-pro profitability.
Separation of Duties
Controlling your revenue, and thereby growing your profit margin, starts with winning the battle in the trenches – on the front lines where payments are collected and seemingly accounted for by parking attendants or those that oversee automated collection systems.
One key to winning this battle is separation of duties. The temptation for theft at the garage level of your operation is always present. Therefore, the person who is completing paperwork for a shift or a day of revenue should certainly never be the one who is counting cash for the deposit.
For example, it’s very easy for someone preparing paperwork for a shift to claim they should deposit $500, when they actually collected $525, thus the $500 is deposited. Imagine this occurring on a daily basis, across multiple parking facilities – penalty for illegal procedure, to say the least. Simply put, at the most fundamental level of revenue control, these duties should be separated.
As on a football roster, there should be levels of control and accountability throughout your operation. Players are accountable not only to one another, but also to the coaching staff and the overarching game plan. When duties are separated into units – offense, defense and special teams – victory can be achieved.
The Best Offense Is a Good Defense
Basic separation of duties should be but one facet of your fundamental revenue control game plan. Automating your operations with software that ensures proper revenue and cash control is the ultimate defense against theft.
A number of such software solutions are available and scalable for parking operations large and small. The best include advanced security features and automate virtually every facet of collections, leases, contract parking and parker tracking.
One oft-overlooked deficiency that such software can cover is timely reconciliation of cash revenue to bank deposits.
Without an automated system, it’s easy for a rogue employee to claim they deposited an amount – say $100 – for a Monday’s tickets. But, in fact, this employee may have pocketed the cash until Friday, because he needed a little money to tide him over until payday.
Without an automated line of defense, such shenanigans may not be noticed until weeks later, when bank reconciliation is done. The right automated system allows you to check the validated date of the bank deposit with the date it was recorded as revenue.
Along with ensuring that your game plan runs smoothly at the garage level, some parking software developers have taken things a step further by automatically consolidating a vast array of revenue sources into general ledger and management reports.
Through such software solutions, not only is cash easily and securely reconciled with revenue, but also everyday collections data are transformed into a powerful resource that illuminates your operation’s strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and opportunities on the parking playing field.
What’s more, learning the X’s and O’s of such automated systems is often easier than you may initially think.
Doing the Little Things Right
Reviewing one’s game film, sometimes referred to as “self-scouting,” is a key component in a football coach’s evaluation of his team’s performance. Such analysis often reveals small chinks in a team’s armor.
The same can be said for your parking operation when it comes to access card and permit audits. At the most basic level, you need to ensure that a card or credential that raises the gate for access is actually being billed. Similarly, billed and collected amounts for new parkers need to be carefully reviewed. Plus, any unusual trends in revenue and validations should be scrutinized.
If such audits are not being performed at your locations, the floodgates for theft and lost revenue are again left wide open. Even basic roster moves, such as rotating your employees among locations and time slots, can ensure that no one gets too comfortable with his or her access to your cash.
The ultimate defense against this form of unsportsmanlike conduct among parkers and employees is to integrate billing with access or permit systems. Again, the key is technology.
The best such systems in this arena easily mesh with popular card-access systems and account for lease compliance, rate escalations, programmed billing, parker categories and contract parameters. As a result, it’s virtually impossible for a crafty parker to rush through any cracks in your defensive line.
Success Starts at the Top
A good front office and an organization with singular focus often translate into success on the football field. The same can be said for your parking operation. Once the fundamentals of revenue control are in place, a focus on security, management techniques, trends in revenue and tickets, and employee retention can help boost profitability over the long haul.
And remember, just like in football, your operation is only as strong as its weakest link. So if you’re currently relying on a diverse array of revenue control systems that don’t play well together, consider this your two-minute warning. It’s time to consolidate your software into one package that performs as a seamless unit.
Ruth Beaman and Kyle Cashion, Founders and Principals of IntegraPark, can be reached through www.integrapark.com.
Article Abstract from January, 2012