Magazine

Who Audits the Auditor? You Do!

By Robert Nguyen

You have a difficult time sleeping at night. You are stressed. Your heart is beating fast. Why? The auditor is coming tomorrow to look at your paperwork! How many times have you felt this way the day before knowing that you are going to be audited? I know I have.

So an auditor is coming to your garage and looking over your revenue reports, tickets, facility cleanliness, etc. All the staff will be quiet or have limited conversations around the auditor, because they do not want to say anything wrong or be questioned by him.

Does this sound like your garage?

The auditor goes through your paperwork, and you hope no questions are asked and everything is flawless, right? Well, guess what? That will not happen.

An auditor will always ask questions, even if everything is crystal clear. The auditor may want to see how you respond to questions, need more details with some exception, or simply just want to be annoying.

I get audited on a monthly basis, and believe me, I do not enjoy it. The auditor comes to the garage at 5 a.m. (he does not sleep) and usually completes the audit nine hours later.

Once my foot gets through the door to my office on audit day, I get a “Good morning,” followed by a “So tell me about … .” At that moment, I know the audit has begun.

Throughout the audit, I get questions such as, “What happened to this ticket? Why do you have so many voids? Why are so many accounts unpaid? Why is there a variance with the money collected versus what is being reported?”

So many times I am impressed with myself for being able to give an explanation without having to hesitate.

After the audit, you think everything is fine and life goes on. Wrong! This is where the auditor has the most fun by doing a report of all the discrepancies and issues found. This all goes back to the title of this article: Who audits the auditor?

I read the auditor’s review, and I shake my head. Many times I do not agree with the review, and believe that everything is simply nonsense that keeps the auditor entertained.

If I get audited to see if there are any issues, who in return audits the auditor to see if they made any mistakes? After all, the auditor is human, they do make mistakes, and they do have bad days.

On a positive note, I have learned through my experience of being audited to not take the auditor’s comments personally. Yes, there may be times that we have a disagreement and will

not give up on the battle, but it’s only because we care.

The discoveries and knowledge gained during audits are limitless. From the capabilities of the revenue control system to what is the meaning of a particular ticket can all be learned just by going through the audit process.

 I personally learn and understand more about the garage activities and also how to run the operation much more effectively because of the auditor’s questions, and even the discrepancies I have made.

Yes, I said it – discrepancies I have made.

It’s not easy to have the perfect audit or even be considered the “Perfect Manager,” but it can happen. We all have bad months, but learn from them.

On a good day, I spend a minimum of 35 to 40 minutes daily to go over my paperwork and do my reconciliation. Unless you live in your garage, there are times that you will not be on-site to see what is going on.

Do you know what your attendants are doing after you leave for the day? How many times was the gate manually opened and closed? Did you have any issues with customer payments? Does every vehicle have a ticket displayed on a designated area once you the manager step out the door?

These are all questions we have to ask ourselves while we do our own daily personal audits.

 One day, for example, I noticed that an overage with the physical cash versus what was being reported. I began my research to see why we were having this variance. The more I was digging into it, the more I discovered.

A ticket was collected by the attendant; however, it was not processed due to the ticket not being able to be read by the register. Cash was collected from the customer, who was let out manually. Why was there not a replacement ticket issued to allow the customer to exit?

The ticket and a report of the gate being manually opened were recorded to keep an audit trail, because we all know the auditor will ask the question. Simple reviews such as this allow me to understand what I need to work on with employees to improve the parking operation.

An audit is not just a pass or fail. It is the way to remain in control of the garage and have minimum leakage of revenue.

So who audits the auditor? We do! It’s our responsibility to make sure that the auditor understands exactly why we have discrepancies.

If a helicopter comes in at night and takes cars off the garage roof, then you better have a picture to show to the auditor. If a customer invents a device to teleport through the gate, then you better get started with investing in the new technology and record so that the auditor can see it.

 I have been audited by the same auditor for two years now. I have come to understand his methods and the questions that will come up in the process. The more the auditor understands your operation, revenue reporting and reconciliation, the simpler the audit will be.

A confused auditor will only make your life more difficult. So review your paperwork, understand your numbers, bring some licorice for your auditor, and pray that all goes smoothly.



Robert Nguyen, a Garage Manager for Central Parking System in New York City, can be reached at rnguyen@parking.com.



 

Article Abstract from June, 2013




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