Fundamentals – Back to the Basics
Much has been written about the importance of fundamentals. Whether in business, sports or life in general, fundamentals have always been the metric to which we monitor our progression.
In our novice phase, we are taught the fundamentals. In our intermediate phase, repetition of fundamentals allows us to hone our skill-sets with anticipation of further achievement. As we attain a level of success, we return to fundamentals during those times when our egos surpass our abilities.
I would like to share three incidents experienced this summer.
The first involved a very large parking operation. It seems that the facility’s operational and auditing staff was struggling to reconcile revenues and transactional counts. Their intention was twofold: determine and confirm revenues, and extract transactional information for inventory management and trending. On the surface, it sounds simple enough. There are tried-and-true practices that can be used to gather the information and perform the analysis as needed. However, this was not happening. In fact, the operational and auditing staff was examining data that were not relevant to their task, and the associated assessments were questionable.
The second incident relates to a situation experienced by a parking patron over a weekend. It seems this person went into the office to do work on a Sunday. He completed his work and attempted to drive out of the parking facility. When he presented his access card, it was denied. Seeking only to get out of the garage, the patron pushed the intercom button and was connected to security. Security then, as instructed, attempted to contact parking operations. No one there. After an extended period of time and half a dozen unsuccessful attempts to contact a parking operations person, the security guard left their post and went to the lane to let the patron out.
The third incident relates to a situation in which a technological improvement hampered the ability of an operation to manage their facilities as they desired. A large parking operation underwent a significant system upgrade involving both hardware and software. Part of the upgrade included the redesign of the head-end architecture: reducing the number of CPU’s by leveraging virtualization. The resulting cost savings in hardware and software, decreased maintenance obligations, and increased system up-time rendered the premise a sound one.
However, an unintended consequence of this activity was the homogenization of transactional and revenue information from multiple facilities. Auditing practices and procedures required adjustments, and certain information bundling available pre-upgrade was no longer possible. Unfortunately, this was not well received by the facility’s staff. They felt they could no longer provide the level of detailed breakdown requested by management.
In each of these incidents, there was no deliberate intent by any of the involved parties to provide a service or product that was sub-standard or ineffective. Each of the responsible parties – management, operations and system provider – sincerely intended to perform properly. In fact, with most other facets of each associated operation, there was an exemplary level of analysis and scrutiny.
There was just one little miss – that turned out to be not so little.
It should also be noted that in each case, subsequent to the identification of the issues indicated above, adjustments are being made, and there is no question the ultimate results will be positive.
The challenge is one of timing: how to identify potential issues similar to those describer above (and hundreds of others lurking just below the surface) and do so before they manifest themselves? It’s not easy.
I took the opportunity to question my practices to determine if I were as thorough and probing as I need to be. Do I look in all the corners? Do I ask the right questions? Do I involve all the operational stakeholders? Do I question traditional practices? Do I check all the fundamental boxes?
Before writing this article, I spoke to several industry colleagues to gain their insights into the fundamentals topic. Each had their own collection of “war stories,” some humorous and some not so. In each case, a level of pre-emptive analysis based on parking and revenue control fundamentals would have eliminated or certainly diminished the issues encountered.
I’m sure people reading this will add, delete or edit items, or not agree at all. This list is not meant as the be-all and end-all. But if you take anything away from this, it should be the desire to examine your operation / product at its most basic core level and determine if you have all the answers to the above. If you do so thoroughly and objectively, more than likely you will find an issue you can address and solve proactively.
Fundamentals. I am reminded of a quote I believe was from legendary golfer Sam Snead. A young man approached Snead after he had just won a tournament. He asked how Snead had been so successful in winning all the tournaments he had. Expecting some nugget of insight into swing plane or wrist action or hip movement, the young man was thoroughly underwhelmed when Snead simply said he “took fewer shots than everyone else.”
• Who gets in or out?
• How do they get in or out?
• Where do they get in or out?
• When do they get in or out?
• What should they pay?
• What did they pay?
• How did they pay?
• Where did they pay?
• Do I have what they paid?
• What is Plan A is something breaks?
• What is Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work?
• What is Plan C if Plan B doesn’t work?
Tom Wunk, now CEO of Intelligent Parking Concepts,
canbe reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.