Bar-Hopping on PT’s Tab
December, 2006I was having a drink at my favorite watering hole the other day and ran into some valet types. They were commenting on how the local police department had come in and spoken to them about how to determine if a person is about to steal a car.
This can be, it seems, a big deal with valet operations. New employees in particular can be pressured into delivering a car without a ticket, and the rest is history.
One case I heard about concerned a high-volume valet operation. The “thief” approached the valet, said he had lost his ticket, and then described his car (the most expensive Mercedes in the lot, naturally). The harried valet retrieved the car, collected the fee due, and the man drove off. Police recovered the car the next day when an officer noticed the driver acting suspiciously and ran the plates.
The police department told the valet types that often a thief will go into the area where the valet cars are parked and check out the car, including what’s on the seats inside. He can then describe the car and its contents to the valet.
The rule – always get an ID when you don’t get a ticket. Also, it might be a good to ask the person what is in the trunk or glove compartment, something that can’t be readily seen from the outside.
Our Mercedes thief? He probably won’t get much jail time. Seems that even if convicted (I can’t imagine how he wouldn’t be; after all, he was caught in the stolen car), he would get only about three years, and that sentence would be reduced by half (don’t ask me why), and then he would be required to serve only 10% of that. That’s about 500 days to start; and 10% is 50 days. He would have been in jail about a month, so with time served, he would be out. Hardly seems worth the trouble.
At a different bar the next night, I was talking with a friend about audits and numbers. An auditor himself, he told me that the average loss over the past dozen audits he had done was 31%. That means that 31% of the potential gross of the facility was either never collected or stolen.
I reminded him of the brouhaha PT caused a few years ago when we stated that we had never seen an audit that didn’t recover at least 20%. Operators went nuts. We had letters to the editor, and numerous “discussions” both in person and over the phone.
He laughed and told me that we were conservative. He also said that, typically, garages that are well run aren’t audited. I asked what he meant.
If you go into a garage that is well-lighted and clean, and the staff is well-dressed and sharp, you know that most likely the manager also is on the ball, he said. If you talk to the manager and he or she knows what’s going on, has a good understanding of the location and the customers, is knowledgeable about the revenue control system, and can immediately give you any report you want, chances are that the finances are also well run.
Oh, he added, “and the manager should have taken regular vacations and time off.”
Since auditors have a limited amount of time, they usually concentrate on facilities that “look” as if they have a problem before they commit to the audit.
If the place is a mess, half the light bulbs out, the equipment broken, and the staff unkempt, chances are other problems lurk beneath the surface. That also probably means the owner doesn’t care, either. An inattentive owner that would let the facility get into that shape probably wouldn’t care too much about the nits and nats of the revenue. That’s when it gets problematic.
Therefore, my friend’s 31% record may be a bit skewed, as might my 20%. He didn’t say all garages were losing 31%; only those he audited. However, he noted with a smile, he would be happy to take up the challenge.
Just give my editor a call and volunteer to let my friend pick one of your locations to audit. He’ll do the rest. If he needs to eat crow, he will be happy to do that – in Macy’s window, if you like.
My friend was in town to find a garage that needed auditing. He was working for a client who had some concerns about the revenue. He had numerous facilities in this Midwestern city . The auditor was asked to check out the garages and pick one where he would do an extensive audit.
He had done so, and the audit was to start the next day. He felt certain he would keep his 31% record going.