Finding Lost Things

Wanda Brown

Recently, one of my shuttle drivers turned in a wallet that contained cash, credit cards, and a number of other personal items. I began trying to contact the owner to reunite him with his property. Every call reached a dead end until I found an insurance card with his member number on it. I contacted the company and left a message with my number for a return call.

It worked! The young man was thrilled to get his wallet back. And no wonder–he  explained that it had been lost for more than a year. We started laughing as I told him he must have had an angel watching over his lost wallet, because no one found it lodged in the seat of our shuttle in all that time.

This got me thinking about lost things that can be found. There are so many professions where lost skills are never realized again. With a persistent downward economy, downsizing, and re-structuring, some skills have been contracted out or simply lost in the shuffle of economic survival.

We are not seeing that trend in the parking industry. Not only have lost skills been revitalized, but they have been taken to new levels of precision. We feel a new excitement that convinces us we are becoming better, sharper, and greater than we have ever been before. This is demonstrated in our offerings to the industry, the excellence that is achieved in our competence, and the cutting-edge technology we use to make our communities run more efficiently.

I know I have had the opportunity to find lost things.  Skills I achieved in jobs past have seen a new light and been used at levels I never thought would be achieved. I guess you can say that the parking industry is not an industry where skills sit idling, but has a definite movement that takes them to new places.

What new places have you seen lately?

Streamlining: Does Tightening Operations Have a Silver Lining?

Wanda Brown

Many companies are exploring lean business practices to increase customer value while eliminating unproductive waste in operational processes. Paying attention to continuous improvements in operation and adding value by developing employees adds value to any parking organization. In addition, continually assessing and resolving root problems helps with organizational learning and is a valuable tool to implement. I believe that lean practices should take center stage in our parking operations: they raise the bar on quality business practices and help develop competent employees who can sustain such practices in the future.

I am currently performing audits on each area of our parking organization (citation, front counter permit sales, revenue reconciliation, payroll deducted permit fee reconciliation, etc.). Because the overarching goal of my organization is to increase patient satisfaction through exceptional customer service, I am assessing manual processes and converting those that take time away from other things to technological downloads for easier execution. For example, the payroll deducted permit fee reconciliation process takes 90 percent of the staff’s daily time to accurately confirm more than $9,000 in permit fee receipts. A programmer is taking the information in our existing system and networking it with our payroll deducted system, confirming payment receipts via employee ID numbers. Why? This shakes out cases where there are no matches in information. Instead of a 200-page report, staff  will only have to look at a four- to six-page report. The extra time can be used to thoroughly investigate issues for patrons and provide that “Disney touch” to our customers.

The additional value is that this will free up staff time, which can also be a great employee motivator as daily stresses are reduced and time is provided for creative thinking. This process will continue until each functional area has been thoroughly analyzed for operational efficiency.

As you assess your business practices, what can you identify as waste that can be eliminated? What would the added value be as a result?