An About Face
January, 2002I had been invited to speak before the California Public Parking Association's 18th Annual Conference and Tradeshow in Monterey and accepted their invitation. While at the show, I had an opportunity to meet Robert Hindle. I had never personally met Bob Hindle before, our only communication until now was by way of written correspondence published through Parking Today. (As many of you readers may remember we had a small war of words that was published by PT a few months ago.)
I must tell you that after about five minutes of conversation with Bob, I realized that I might have been wrong in my assessment of him and his parking philosophy. By the end of the evening and after a very nice dinner, I knew that we both shared many of the same concerns that affect the parking industry, and we both agreed on many of the issues that operators are faced with in today's arena of competition due to the consolidation by the now mega-sized national operators.
Yes, there are still some areas of disagreement, but I believe that those areas of disagreement are more in form and not in content. We both strongly agree that there is simply no substitute for management oversight of the operations. Absolute accountability of the tickets and their related dollars is a given without question.
I would like your readership to know that I am glad I had the opportunity to meet Bob, and I am happy to count him as a business acquaintance, and in time I'm sure a business friend. I am also comfortable to say that based on Bob's operating philosophy and beliefs, that I would have no problem recommending him to my customers as a potential operator. I think he is one of the good guys in our industry and is one who honestly cares about his customers.
Dennis Cunning, DLC Consulting
25 Years in the Parking Business!
Twenty-five years in the parking business, and I'm still learning something new every day!
I remember the early days and how interesting it was to take my accounting education and apply it to the revenue control aspects of my responsibilities. Revenue control, in my mind, was the core of the business. Sure we were tasked with other issues, but they were secondary to protecting and managing the revenue. We were managing an interesting business mix of retail and customer service without inventory. We often referred to the process as "selling air." How could we manage the business -- ensuring the best control of the customer and the employee -- especially with the understanding that it was socially acceptable to beat the system (and get away without paying to park)? Plus, we had several employees who were seizing every opportunity to manipulate the funds.
Along came the "white knights," engineers designing revenue control systems. We all welcomed them into our industry with hopes that they could make our jobs easier. I remember many locations that were operated with no gates; hand-issued tickets and a cash box. Installing a simple one-in and one-out system produced increases to the revenue in shocking amounts. The fact that every car received a ticket was the start. The evolution of system accountability was born and the potential was enormous. Within the past 20 years I have seen first-hand the revenues jump many times in excess of 30% when machine-readable monthly card access revenue control systems were installed.
Twenty-five years later, the City of San Francisco has passed an ordinance requiring all parking facilitates within city limits to install revenue control equipment with specific security of data requirements while providing receipts for customers. Protecting the consumer, and the 25% parking tax, was the primary objective; thus making the days of stuffing money into a slot or paying an attendant working out of his pocket obsolete.
I say bravo to the officials of the City of San Francisco. They saw an opportunity to use the technology of today to protect the consumer and the city. Installation of a revenue control system is a waste of money if no one reviews the reports or balances to the figures on the system. Even more important is their requirement that the data cannot be altered and all data is held in memory for at least five years. A closed system is required. Security of the data is of the utmost importance. As they say in the accounting world, revenue reporting "is an exact science" and should not be manipulated.
I challenge all parking professionals to step up and educate themselves on the different systems approved by the City of San Francisco. Then purchase a system and instruct your staff to review the printouts, balance to the system figures daily and audit it regularly. You'll be a hero.