Magazine

How To Collect More of What You Are Owed'

By Bill Geraghty

Many municipalities and universities are under more fiscal pressure than ever before, being asked to produce greater results with fewer resources. This means that you need every revenue dollar you can generate. While there continues to be a lot of debate on whether parking tickets are issued to promote parking turnover and punish those who interrupt safe traffic flow, the bottom line is that they have become a vital revenue source for many organizations.
Parking tickets provide funding for all types of public projects, and their revenues help to drive down resident taxes and fees. But whatever the reasoning behind your ticketing efforts, if your enforcement officers are going to take the time to write tickets, you certainly want them paid by the violator. This article will discuss some of the ways to collect more of what you are owed on the parking tickets that are being written.
The first step is to analyze the success of your current operation. Many organizations misinterpret their parking violation collection rates by basing their evaluation on revenue. However, for true accuracy, collection results should be based on paid tickets. Therefore, the easiest and most accurate formula for calculating your organization's collection results is to take your total tickets written (minus tickets that are voided or dismissed) compared to what are still open and unpaid. Note that partial payments should not count as a closed/ paid ticket. Consider the following formula:

110,000 tickets written
-10,000 tickets voided/ dismissed
=100,000 "good tickets"

If 4,000 of your 100,000 "good tickets" are open/unpaid, your collection rate is 96%.
After determining the success rate of your current operation, the second step is to review the measures that can be taken to improve parking ticket collection results. For example, the use of handheld ticket writers has been shown to dramatically improve overall collection results over traditional handwritten tickets. Information is captured accurately in the field, and back-end data entry errors are eliminated when the ticket is transferred electronically to your ticket database.
Also, depending on where you order your tickets from, the paper quality of the handheld tickets tends to be highly resistant to inclement weather, as well as to extreme cold and heat. Traditional handwritten tickets have a tendency to become destroyed by the elements, making them difficult for the violator to pay, resulting in lost revenue.
Of all of the measures that can be taken to improve overall collection results, none is more important to the ultimate successful disposition of each parking ticket than nationwide Department of Motor Vehicle registration retrievals. Each registered owner retrieval should come directly from each state's respective DMV agency to ensure that you are gathering the most up-to-date, accurate information. Also, taking advantage of your home state's registration suspension program can be an extremely successful contributor to overall collection results.
It puts teeth in the collection process by preventing violators from renewing their vehicle registrations until their tickets are paid. Unfortunately, not every state has such a program, and program details vary from state to state. However, if your state has this process in place and you are not utilizing it, you are missing out on a very valuable collection tool.
After accurate DMV information is captured, the next step is to perform effective and persistent delinquent noticing. Your notices should be tracked and go out at regular frequencies. Onerous language should be used as needed, informing the violator of all consequences for unpaid tickets. Also, notices should reflect the most up-to-date information on all of the violator's open parking tickets, and there should be detailed payment instructions for the violator to follow.
Finally, by offering violators as many payment options as possible, the more likely they will be to pay their tickets. Convenience for violators will increase their compliance. By offering the ability to pay parking tickets through the Internet or by phone with a credit card, violators will not be restricted by cash flow problems, or if they are unable to get to your payment office or even to the post office to mail their payment. Furthermore, particularly in a university setting where delinquent notices may be sent home to parents who are the registered owners of their child's vehicles, the parents will appreciate the convenience of resolving unpaid tickets remotely.
These examples are just a few of the many ways your organization can optimize parking ticket revenues. If the resources to deploy these actions within your organization are limited, consider the use of an outsourcing specialist. Working together, they can help your organization meet your fiscal goals.

Bill Geraghty is with Complus Data Innovations. He can be reached at billg@complusdata.com.

Article Abstract from February, 2006




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