Focus on Revenue Control - Do it Once, Not Twice!!!
Monthly Card Revenue Control
By Bruno Godin
For the past years, I have participated at many seminars presented by North American parking associations. Many times, the most important of all the topics was revenue control/management.
I have learned from the speakers that the subject had a different taste for each of them. I noticed that the common link was ticket control, meaning, the appropriate tracking from the time of ticket issuance until its end of life. While the parking industry was evolving with tools and systems to obtain the expected control, everyone was anxious to apply the potential solution since lots of cash money was handled in a standard operation. Because of the way human nature is as we know it, we all are aware of the potential explosive cocktail when both are in contact.
During these years as a salesman, I have met with owners who wished to control their operators and operators who wanted to control their employees. This shared problem always justifies the decision to go with an automated solution in parking revenue collection. So today, the talk of the town is less focused on ticket control but on the possibility of the automation inside the lot. It is "the top of the list" answer in order to avoid revenue losses due to manual operations. But then again, keep in mind an automated system is controlled by man.
Being blinded by the "daily cash" control brought many of the operators/administrators to lose touch with reality that represents an important revenue source -- that is, the monthly card holder. The majority of bids justify the monthly card control such as anti-pass back, time zone, access level and many other requirements. It is like we have forgotten about all these revenues! Today's reality is, most of the parking operators are managing monthly revenues on a complete and separate system, which is parallel to the daily one. With such a system configuration, it is most probable to not invoice a card in circulation or worse, invoice a card that is out of circulation!
Sometimes, knowing the number of cardholders in a parking lot, maintaining the information on two distinguished databases (one for access control and the other for billing) opens the parking operation to numerous dubious activities and transactions that will result in real loss revenues and a particular and interesting puzzle. From the owner who is subcontracting the parking management he is definitely feeling an important discomfort, which is directly linked with the fact that financial reports are not generated from the same system that compiles card activation and events.
Also, the most common scenario is that cards are always valid in the access control system. So when a cardholder wishes to cancel his access, it requires a manual entry from the operator to disable the card in the system. You can imagine how easy it is for an attendant to activate a card without having anyone noticing it. Even with the record in the database, it is almost impossible to secure both databases together to control access upon payment.
With this in mind, at least two companies have developed systems that track monthly cards and require a financial transaction to activate a card.
Other features available include:
A monthly cardholder can renew his card access at the pay on foot station without having to go to the office.
Fee computer software that allows a cardholder to renew his access. According to booth attendant's level of access, he can activate a brand new card with the customer's general information and amount deposited.
At the entry and exit terminal, a message is displayed telling the cardholder that it is time to renew his card. A grace time can be configured and applied at your choice.
Group billings, invoices issuance and paid-in-advance revenue management and receivables are also available.
The technology is there today to help you manage the monthly card access control and its lucrative revenues with one system.
Bruno Godin is the VP for marketing for Traf-Park, Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com
Article Abstract from January, 2002