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Keeping Track of Deposits

IN 1921, the first Pep Boys automotive supply and service store opened in Philadelphia. It was the collaborative venture of Manny Rosenfeld, Moe Strauss, and Jack Jackson who pooled together $800 in capital to begin the business. Today, sales at more than 560 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico reached $498 million for just the first 13 weeks of 2008.

The company’s eastern division director, Jack Legoretta, who has been with the retailer for 15 years, is in charge of 163 stores that stretch from Maine to Minnesota. One of Legoretta’s responsibilities is to manage the territory’s armored car service, which helps ensure secure, safe, and accountable store deposits and change orders.

About 75 percent of the armored car pickups and deliveries are made by Dunbar Armored. This business relationship seems fitting, as Dunbar’s history is much like that of Pep Boys. Founded only two years later, in 1923, it was New England’s first armored car company.

Legoretta’s territory uses the carrier for two main purposes: first, to safely deliver store deposits to banks, and second, to provide stores with change. During the last several years, Dunbar has introduced a new aspect to its service—electronic tracking and the ability to monitor all transactions and to run reports from an Internet Web site. This enhanced service, called D-Track, has been provided for free to customers.

D-Track is a bar-code-based scanning system that tracks deposits and shipments. Pep Boys uses D-Track only for deposits.

When Dunbar arrives at a store, the store manager and the armored-car agent both must use keys to open the store’s inner safe. The deposit or deposits—some stores have carrier service only two or three times per week, depending on the business volume at the store and geographic and crime surveys, says Legoretta—are then individually marked with an adhesive D-Track bar code.

The bar-code number and information about the deposit are entered into the agent’s electronic reader, and then it is scanned to create a record of the time the deposit entered Dunbar’s care. The bar code is scanned again, and information about the recipient entered, when the bank receives the deposit.

Legoretta says this is an improvement over the use of logbooks. In the past, when a deposit went missing, he states, “The manager can say, ‘Well, I was busy. I didn’t sign for it,” as could the Dunbar employee.

“So, rather than casting suspicion on the store manager, or on Dunbar, or the bank, the bar-coding system can say that it was scanned on this date, at this time, and here’s who signed for it—both our person and their person…. It drills down and narrows the investigative process very quickly. It doesn’t stop the problem. You’re still going to have people who fail to make deposits and things of that nature, but…it makes investigations a lot easier.”

For clients who rely on Dunbar to provide change for their stores, D-Track also encompasses EZChange. Almost all of the stores in Legoretta’s division use this service, which allows managers to schedule even exchanges of large bills for smaller bills or coins via an automated phone ordering system or the D-Track Web site.

This helps to keep a balanced safe, making daily reconciliations easier. In addition, better documentation is maintained, and the danger to store employees who previously transported the large bills to local banks to make change is reduced. Each change pickup and delivery is affixed with a bar code and recorded exactly like store deposits.

All of the deposit and change order transactions are easily viewable on the password-protected D-Track customer Web site, which only Legoretta can access in his territory. He can reach the site via his laptop whenever needed, around the clock and from whatever locale. The Dunbar transactions with all the stores are recorded in an audit trail, including the electronic signatures of those involved in each transaction.

The ability to run daily activity reports, says Legoretta, provides the chance to “zero in on our problem stores that are not effectively utilizing the EZChange program,” he says.

Although store managers receive instruction on the use and usefulness of the program via in-store training or webinars, “We’ve had some managers, because of their reluctance to change, or because of confusion on their part, continue to go to the bank on their own, or go to a currency exchange, which creates safety risk hazards as well as loss potential,” says Legoretta. “So D-Track allows us to monitor our stores.”

There are functionalities that don’t yet exist, however, that Legoretta would like to see added. D-Track, “should help me manage the process from a company standpoint,” he says. For example, he would like a report that helps him pinpoint stores with excessive premise times—the amount of time that the Dunbar agent was at the store—because these extended visits rack up additional charges.

“If I’m looking at our budgets and costs—because obviously, we’re looking at return on investment…I could manage it by running a summary report with a filter on how many stores exceeded the premise time on a consistent basis,” he says, and then it could be determined what was causing the problem, such as the manager being too busy with customers or having a problem reconciling deposits.”

But because Dunbar offered the D-Track service to its clients free of charge, it’s already been a revenue generator. “I can analyze things much better,” Legoretta says. “It has been a cost saving tool already.”

(For more information: Sean P. Gibbons, vice president of corporate communication, Dunbar Armored, 410/229-1764; e-mail:[email protected];