PT The Auditor
My List of Grievances for 2006
I know it’s February already, but it’s only just after New Year’s Day as I write this. It’s time to review the transgressions of the past year, with the goal of doing better in the future.
Here’s a list of problems brought forth in a recent group of audits:
1. Missing Tickets. At, say, $25 apiece, 500 missing tickets means that someone is pocketing $12,500 a month, or 150 grand a year. You simply must start from that position and then try to prove that they were all legitimate. My guess is that some were simply lost, but most of them were full daily rate tickets that were kept by the cashiers. They rung them up as “lost” and then swapped them for tickets that were in for only one increment. Not hard to do, unless someone is looking at each lost ticket slip, checking license numbers, and phoning the person to ensure that they had, indeed, lost their ticket. (Be sure to have a phone number on lost ticket forms. Call a few once in a while.)
2. Monthly cards. This is one of the biggest areas of loss in the parking industry, and no one seems to care. In a recent audit, I found 131 monthly cards that were “active,” but of which 127 were “canceled.” OK, I can see where four cards might fall through the crack, but 127? And of those, 91 showed use for the day of the audit. What’s with that? Carelessness. This is lack of professionalism.
3. I was in a garage in the spring. The operator ran many locations in the city. I found a number of expenses from other garages charged in this one (some were even people). I went over to the other garage and spoke to the person who was charged to the one I was auditing. He was clueless, said he had been working at that garage for a year. Careless, mismanagement, fraud? I don’t know, but certainly it’s a lack of professionalism.
4. A personal favorite – the “early bird.” In one garage, the rule is “in before 9, you pay half the daily rate.” Well, a number of tickets came in at 9:14, 9:15, 9:20, and they were given the early bird rate. What’s with that? The attendant says he was being “nice.” The marketing plan was to try to fill the garage early. I’m sure someone did a lot of computing to determine when to cut off the early bird. The idea is to see how many empty spaces there are at peak time and then set the early bird to fill those spaces. It’s not up to the attendant to adjust the garage owner’s marketing program.
5. My card doesn’t work at the exit gate. So the friendly cashier lets them out. Did they ever look to see why the card didn’t work? Of course not! There could be many reasons: First, it could be void. Second, perhaps the person took a ticket on entry and therefore was in passback. I have seen this many times. They used the card coming in. A friend came by at 11. They had a meeting and then went to lunch. On the way out, the card was used to let the friend out. After lunch, the person was dropped off in front of the building, and naturally, for some unknown reason (gamma rays?), his card didn’t work on exit. We actually caught the FBI doing this when informants came in to “inform” and then the agents went to lunch with them. (Or their card was in their purse/wallet/trunk/briefcase and too much trouble to get out on entry, so they pulled a ticket to get in and …)
6. Employee parking. Look carefully at your management agreement. Do parking company employees, or their friends or relatives, get free parking? If you are charging $25 a day, this can amount to a lot of money. It’s also a great place to hide fraud.
7. Motorcycle parking. Usually motorcycles are charged a lower rate, and rightly so. They don’t take up nearly as much space as a car. Upon exit, the motorcyclist’s license is written on the back of the ticket and they get the reduced rate. In one garage I audited, half the license numbers were invalid (we checked with the DMV).
All of these issues show a lack of professionalism on the part of parking management. We call ourselves professionals – maybe it’s time we started acting like it. And while I’m on my high horse ... well, I don’t have the room. We’ll hold that little tidbit until next month.
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Article Abstract from February, 2007