7% of Revenue Software is Actually Used Ö
October, 2007I was musing the other day about all the features the revenue control folks put on their systems. You can search databases, know how many cars were in the garage on any given time on any given date, know if a car is in, out or whether a card has ever been used. You can know when people arrive and depart, and how much they pay.
With the tap of a key, you can find out how much increased revenue would be generated by a certain type of rate increase. You can know the history of a particular cashier, or POF machine or, in some cases, the license numbers of the cars that came in during a certain time.
All this is in addition to the simple stuff such as how much money should be in a certain cash drawer or vault; how many tickets were issued today; and the percentage of money collected by credit card.
And all this is on the simpler systems.
However, my understanding is that most of these features are never used. Just like on the Microsoft product Iím using to type this column, 90% of the features I frankly donít even know exist, and certainly donít use them. One revenue control manufacturer told me that only 7% of the software features on these systems are regularly used by the garage staff. He said it was difficult for his company to get excited about new features: ďThey arenít going to use them anyway.Ē
That has certainly been my experience. I go to audit a garage and ask for a card list. You know, that list that tells me which cards are active and which are turned off. In the vast majority of cases, the list has never been run and no one on the site knows how to run it. I sit down and with two key strokes start the list running, and they look at me like I have just stepped off the Starship Enterprise.
So what to do? You have this complex set of computer software and no one knows what it will do or how to use it. I suggest you work with the manufacturer to set up a training program and train your staff at different levels.
Level 1 Ė This is for the line garage personnel. Train them on the parts of the system that they will use (cashier terminals, data entry, generating first-level reports of revenue, activating monthly cards). The garage manager should sit in on this training, as he is the supervisor required to ensure that it is done properly.
Level 2 Ė Garage management. This training should include advanced reporting, just what information the system can provide and how to get it. Determine what the garage managerís job requires him or her to do, and then be sure that they are trained on the software so they can use it to do that job.
Level 3 Ė Supervisory personnel. These are the folks who use statistical information to help in the marketing and operations of the garage. How many staff are needed? Are the rates properly set? What are the times when the garage needs more parkers? Itís the type of information that one discusses with the owners so strategic decisions can be made on the garageís future.
Donít try to train every person on every feature. Train them on the features they need for their jobs. I guarantee the tens of thousands you spend for the software will begin to pay off.
The devil is in the details. I met a fellow the other day who had just purchased an automated system for his facility. One of the features was that it took credit cards. The system has been online and running for more than a year.
The other day, he discovered that although credit cards had been accepted for the past year, none of the money had gotten into his bank account. Iím not sure how or why, in the end, he hadnít received the cash.
Getting a credit card system up and running is complicated and requires the involvement of your bank, a clearinghouse, probably a third financial institution, the equipment manufacturer, an Internet service provider, and you, the owner. If you are part of a larger organization, you will need to involve the IT department and then ensure that when the money is deposited, you get credit for it.
For all I know, our hero simply glossed over one of these little steps and the buck stopped.
One more thing on credit cards. Did you know that some credit card companies will void the second of two like transactions from the same card on the same day?
Letís say you run a hospital and people come to visit twice a day. You have a flat rate of $10 per entry. The person uses their credit card each time. The second $10 charge will be voided, but voided later so the person has already gone and thinks they have paid.
To solve this, you have to sign a document with the credit card company that you accept personal liability for that second charge. If this happens twice a day, it will cost you about $7,500 a year on your bottom line.