July 15, 2014 – Vicki Pero -

Are Cashier Shortages a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

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Due to the cash intensive nature of our business, a common discussion I have with clients is related to cashier shortages and how they should be managed. I’ve seen points of view ranging from all shortages are bad and must be repaid and responded to with progressive discipline to this activity is inevitable and should be monitored for patterns of abuse. I have highlighted the key arguments for each side of this debate below and I would really like to know what the parking community thinks: are shortages a good thing or a bad thing?

People Make Mistakes, Right?

The most common argument in the column shortages are a good thing is that people do make mistakes. Occasional shortages indicate that the cashier isn’t balancing to the tape or tickets, meaning he or she is honestly turning in what was collected, whether it is short, over or in balance.

If you support this school of thought, you are more likely to tolerate small shortages, monitor this activity over longer periods of time for patterns of issues and address chronic problems using progressive discipline and retraining. The risk associated with this position of course is that complacency may settle in and managers end up missing actual shortage patterns that do indicate abuse.

When Your Primary Responsibility is to Process Transactions and Give Change, These Mistakes are Unacceptable.

On the other end of the spectrum, the belief is that when the entire job revolves around processing transactions and providing customers with change, mistakes shouldn’t be made, period.

If you’re in this camp, you probably have a zero tolerance policy and require all shortages to be repaid and/or addressed using progressive discipline. An argument can be made that when this approach is taken, it motivates employees to balance to the tape or tickets to avoid a negative consequence and yet it can also be a gateway to fraudulent activity. If you do take this approach, regardless of its merits, always be mindful of the Federal Department of Labor Minimum Wage requirements.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both points of view. You may believe that one of these positions is absolutely correct, or land somewhere in the middle. So join the debate and let us know what you think!