Magazine

PT the Auditor

I Agree With Everything Except ...

By John Van Horn

The Boss gave me a quick preview of this month's letter to the editor - boy, that guy Rollo has some strong feelings about putting a pay-on-foot machine in an exit lane so people can pay from their cars. And, frankly, I agree virtually 100 percent with everything he said.
As an auditor, I think the idea of getting people to pay before they get to the exit is where we need to be, unless they are using credit cards. We need to get as much cash out of the process as we possibly can. It's the cash that causes the problems.
Cash is hard to count, it costs money to get it to the bank, and since its cash, it also can have little feet that allow it to take off like my sister's new pups. It can easily get out of control.
I have seen numbers that cause me to believe that the fee one pays the credit card companies is actually less than the cost of dealing with cash. In the end, you are way ahead to get it out of your garage.
I know a fellow in Chicago who runs a pay-on-foot garage, and I told him to make it cashless. He told me that I was crazy, that he had to have the facility for cash in the garage.
I asked him what percentage of the parkers used credit cards. He said more than 90 percent.
I told him he already had a cashless garage; all he needed to do was put up a sign.
Pay-on-foot systems that accept all types of cards and other methods of payment beside cash make my auditor's life much easier. They also make for a faster transaction, less queuing and a quick exit. What more could a driver want?
Think back on how long it takes to deal with shoving a dollar bill into a slot, which then rejects it, and you smoooooth it out and it rejects it again and you turn the bill over and then it rejects it yet another time. So you try another bill - and it starts all over again. Then you have to wait for the change, get the change out, put it in you purse or wallet, and off you go.
In a cashless situation, the issue is solved in a wink of an eye. But I digress, kinda.
However, PT's letter-writing correspondent this month did forget one application that does make some sense for the "automated pay on exit."
An Automated Pay on Exit can become an "extra" cashier. This is particularly true in garages where the design simply doesn't lend itself to central Pay on Foot. Installing one POF at an extra exit rather than six or seven to cover all pedestrian entrances can make sense.
These can also be used for after hours when traffic is slow.
At one garage I know, they closed the booth at 10 p.m. and opened the gates. They simply lost all the revenue for folks who left after 10.
So you continue with your pay-on-exit operation, but you don't want to leave a cashier there all night. You have to figure out what time to let the cashier go home and you still have the payroll costs to cover.
A garage I know in Northern California was keeping its cashier on duty and extra five hours a night at a cost of $12 an hour and collected an average of $100. They also were closing the garage on Sunday. I suggested an automated pay-on-exit machine. It accepted cash, credit cards and gave change. They also had two cashiers on between 10 and 6 to handle extra traffic.
They took my advice, installed one Pay on Exit, and replaced one cashier and allowed the other to go home at 10 p.m. The net savings was 12 hours of payroll a day plus they were able to open weekends. AND they collected all their tickets.
(Can you imagine the headache of trying to audit a lot that opened its gates nightly and had beaucoup lost tickets? And of course every one was one that left after the lot closed. But I digress.)
They saved enough in payroll to pay for the machine in less than six months, plus picked up the cash they were loosing by kicking open the gates.
All the issues about queuing up and good service go away when there's no line. And since there were only a few customers each night, and the facility was pay-on-exit anyway, everyone was happy.
Oh yes, once the owners saw how popular the Pay on Exit machines were, they elected to purchase a few more and move them all in to specific locations in the garage, converting it to all Pay on Foot. They would never have done that without the interim step and the experience of seeing how well the machines worked.
WOOF!!

Article Abstract from May, 2006




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