How do you Solve a Problem with a New PARCS?
As time goes by problems will surface in any parking operation. Changes are inevitable in the area’s culture and in the needs of customers.
If there are many repeat customers, it is great to have that loyalty in your customer base. But when operations change, that can cause confusion if the same old way of doing things is replaced by a new habit. The addition of Automatic Payment Machines/Pay on Foot machines/central pay stations could wreak havoc at the exits because customers walk past the automatic machines only to be surprised at the exits.
Some customers may need a little extra help. A multitude of words have been written on how to manage change, so it is no surprise that an operator has to plan for it. Signage, advertising campaigns, and an introduction to loyal customers by an increase in customer ambassadors may be needed.
Change can be a challenge for the customer base, especially when introducing new technology. Technology is on a fast track and an operator must be flexible to meet those challenges, but at some point it is time for a major step. So now that the decision is made to make major changes, how do you make those changes secure? With today’s technology advancing at warp speed, future proofing a system is almost impossible, but if the new system is designed with the future in mind, then changes down the road are that much easier.An operator is constantly looking at ways to increase revenue, lower costs and be a better service organization to their customers. Many problems may arise indeed, but a new PARCS could prevent many of them.
Parking Today sat down (well, virtually, anyway) with John Kowalchik from the City of Coral Gables to talk about their new PARCS and how it solved the problems that they had in their parking operations, how their operations changed and affects it had on their customers. What they used is a certain company with new leadership that is reinventing itself in these challenging times, moving from a ‘quiet’ PARCS company to one with more of a presence
PT: How did your new PARCS installation help solve a problem or problems?
JK: We changed out our PARCS in four facilities over the course of five years. Our old system was antiquated and could not be updated or repaired. The new system most definitely helped to secure our revenue and diminished the abuse of the system.
Change can be a challenge for the customer base, especially when introducing new technology.
PT: Did this system change your operations? In what way?
JK: Yes, our new system changed our operations in many ways. First and foremost, the automated systems allowed us to reduce potential conflicts by removing the cashiers and making them ambassadors that are available to help our patrons with any difficulties they encounter using the system. The system also allows us to more securely monitor our revenues and access control.
PT: How has this system made a difference in your area?
JK: One thing automating the system did was reduce the congestion at the exit of the facilities. The transient patron (in most cases) pays before returning to their vehicle, removing the time to process the ticket at the exit.
PT: How has the new system been received by your customers?
JK: The system has had mixed reviews by our customers. Some like the ease of access to and from the facilities, but some still have difficulty navigating the system.
PT: How did you prepare for the change of operations to avoid pain points and how did the change-over go?
JK: We ran an aggressive campaign to inform the public of the changes. We also strategically planned our signage program to not only inform the public, but instruct them on the use of the system. Finally, we increased our ambassador program during the initial phasing of our programs to educate our patrons. The change-over went as anticipated. We have a very diverse and multicultural clientele, so we prepared staff to be able to provide empathic listening and respond accordingly.
PT: Are there any items still on your wish list for future functionality?
JK: Yes, of course, technology is moving quickly and we’d like to be on the forefront of that movement, giving our customers the most effective, efficient and user-friendly ways to park in our system.
In these challenging times, life still goes on, of course, but there is definitely a need for new PARC systems. With the right planning and problem solving, a new PARCS could be just the right answer.
The City of Coral Gables installed a WPS PARCs System.
Karen B. Pradhan is a parking professional with over 38 years in the industry. She can be reached at Karen.Blasing.Pradhan@gmail.com. www.wpsparking.com/en