4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Parking Access Solution Partner

4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Parking Access Solution Partner

Josh Bakhbakhi5 minutes reading time

In the past, parking access solution tenders would involve a handful of the usual suspects from established parking access solution providers, offering fairly similar solutions at fairly similar price points. Today, tender situations are becoming crowded affairs with more options - across many different price points - for asset owners and operators to consider. So, as an asset owner looking to make a significant investment for a healthy return, or as an operator simply looking to improve the first and last experience at your facility, what are some of the things you should consider when assessing the suitability of potential parking access solution partners?

 

How will you measure the success of your solution?

 

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This is often a question I ask asset owners and operators and the responses can usually be categorised into three columns:

  • Improve experience
  • Improve Revenue
  • A combination of both

Whether you’re a retail destination focussed on delivering a frictionless parking experience for your end customers, a privately owned CBD car park hoping to minimise revenue leakage, or an airport hoping to provide a seamless journey for your carriers’ passengers, asking yourself how you plan to measure the success of your new solution is a great way to start your journey to choosing a solution partner.

If your goal is to focus on improving the experience at your asset, technology such as license plate recognition, barrierless entries (or even exits), and mobile payment solutions will certainly enhance any customer’s journey regardless of the segment you operate in.  
If your mission is to maximise your ROI, you may look to more traditional solutions such as physical tickets or offering e-commerce solutions such as pre-booking or registration platforms to capture more of the online market.

If you are an asset owner or operator looking for a healthy balance of both of the above, a combination of technology is probably going to attract the best outcome for your asset – albeit at a higher cost if all of the “bells and whistles” is what you choose. 

 

Is there demonstratable experience delivering the solution?

 

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Some solution providers offer a broad range of technology whilst others are experts in one type of solution. Your measure of success will often define which technology is most suitable for you and from there, you can whittle down your cast of thousands to a handful of providers offering this type of technology.

So, how do you know that they can deliver the solution you require? References. Given the number of options, there are in the market – with varying degrees of experience - it’s important to seek out and talk to at least 3 local references relative to the size of your organisation, the segment you operate in and the solution you’re looking to employ.

Consider two ways to do this:

  • Talking independently to existing customers (even if you are already a customer of the potential partner) is the most common way to understand if the solution offered is worth your time and money
  • Visiting a live site in person to view the equipment in operation and experience it for yourself

 

Is there a competent network of local support you can rely on?

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Anyone can sell the first solution, but customer service is what sells the second, third, fourth and fifth. It’s worthwhile investing some time in understanding the support infrastructure a solution provider is offering and how sophisticated this network of support is. Each solution provider will offer attractive levels of support on paper, but in a real-life service situation, it’s important to understand how and when support will be provided.

Some important questions to ask are:

  • How many local technicians are available?
  • How equipped are those technicians to deal with any potential issues which may arise?
  •  How long have they been with the organisation?
  • Are they directly employed or subcontractors?
  • Is there a local Project Manager to oversee implementation?
  • Is there a local Field Service Manager you can rely on for escalations?
  • Is there a local office with a warehouse that holds spare parts?

I can’t emphasise enough how important the quality of service & support is to any parking operation. The 10%, 20% or 30% capital savings made by choosing the cheapest option can quickly be eaten away through downtime and associated loss of revenue and damage to customer experience because of poor after-sales support. 

 

It’s a long-term relationship


Society in general has become more open to adopting new technology and the same can be said about car park asset owners and operators. Personally, I’m a big fan of testing and adopting new technology but the risk in using a Samsung Galaxy Z as opposed to an iPhone is fairly low if I decide that I prefer the iPhone. In 12-24 months my contract will be up for renewal and I’ll switch back at that point with little or no loss incurred.

But what if the risk was greater?

Investing in a new parking access solution is often a major capital expense for most businesses and business cases are usually calculated over an equipment lifespan of 10 years. This means that you’re going to live with your choice of provider for at least that amount of time (or replace them at another significant capital cost before then). Here are some things to consider when evaluating whether a solution provider is capable of supporting you long-term:

  • Is their business financially viable?
  • Who are their long-term customers and how long have they been customers?
  • Are they a global, national or local organisation and how does this compare to the size of your organisation and your future ambitions? Will they be able to scale with you?

There are of course other factors to consider but whether you’re a seasoned parking professional or new to the industry, I hope this article has offered some insights into how to make the best decision for you and your situation.

 

About the Author: Josh Bakhbakhi has been involved in the parking industry for over 10 years in both an operations and technical capacity and has contributed to over 250 projects in this time. Josh is currently the Director – Sales & Marketing for the Asia Pacific region for SKIDATA having spent the last 8 years in various Sales & Account Management roles with SKIDATA in Australia.

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