Parking Equipment Technology: Is It the Magic Pill?


Parking Equipment Technology: Is It the Magic Pill?

When my career began in the parking industry, I had the good fortune to work with a seasoned industry veteran whose own career had started in the 1950s. He once told me a story about how, in “those days,” when a customer didn’t pay for parking, he would wrap a chain, embedded in a 55-gallon drum of concrete, around the axle of the customer’s vehicle.
Needless to say, “booting” has come a long way since then, and so
have many other parking equipment technologies.
A specific trend that I have observed over the last number of years is that we in the industry have become too reliant, in some cases, on parking equipment technology, adopting the mindset that it is the magic pill that closes every loophole and eliminates the need for audit activities and operational oversight. In reality, the advancements in equipment technology make these devices a powerful business tool for managers, as long as the system is utilized and the terminal PC doesn’t become a proverbial paperweight.

New Capabilities
Some of the exciting advancements with technology that have occurred in recent years include being

able to monitor real-time revenues collected by on-street meters and to review every action performed on a fee computer and other devices in an off-street facility.
Other advancements have made operational activities less labor-intensive as automated transaction processing becomes more common. Our industry is maturing in many ways, and we now have the opportunity to leverage these data with respect to management of revenue streams and auditing activities.

Data, Data and
More Data
Because we have so many data at our fingertips, we are able to evaluate the information and trends for anomalies. Comparing specific data points such as average transaction value for a shift or day, number of manual gate raises, revenue by category for the same day of the week, month over month and year over year can reveal variances and help us to make assumptions about the future that help us manage operations more efficiently.
In the past, we would take the approach of reviewing every ticket for legitimacy, but in this new world, we can use the trend data to focus ticket reviews on targeted shifts based on data variations. It’s now possible to review a few shifts of tickets per week versus every shift every day, while still having a comfort level that this   particular activity is being effectively monitored.
We would also maintain staffing schedules in the same way week over week; now, based on trends in the data, we can better predict what traffic volumes will be at any given time and staff operations accordingly.

Revenue Control Challenges Have Moved Up the Organizational Chart
Technology has allowed labor-intensive operations to automate transaction processing, reducing the staff at these facilities from 12 to 15 people to fewer than 5. While this transformation has eliminated cashier fraud issues, it also has removed checks and balances from these operations.
It’s not uncommon for a manager at this type of facility to collect and report revenue from each device, generate and collect payment for chaser ticket validations for customers, and manage card access and payment collection for monthly customers.
When things go awry at a parking facility like this, they can go undetected for months or longer, which increases the value of the issue from hundreds or thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
An effective response to this changing dynamic is to reintroduce checks and balances through audit activities, where someone outside the operation routinely reviews and reconciles system activity, compares this to logs and payment activity, and confirms that all revenue is accounted for. The operation benefits from lower operating costs, while maintaining proper revenue controls.
So, in response to the magic pill question, I would say that, in isolation, industry technology advancements do not have this effect. They do, however, have the ability to provide many value-added improvements when properly managed.
The opportunity that is in front of all of us is to embrace these changes and advance our industry through enhanced revenue management and
audit practices.

Vicki Pero, a Principal of The Marlyn Group, “thrives on providing real-world solutions and imparting her extensive institutional knowledge to help clients move forward with processes in place to achieve desired objectives.” She has 16 years’ experience in operations and administration with national parking companies. A Member of Women In Parking, Pero also serves as Treasurer of the Green Parking Council Board of Directors.
Contact her at

Article contributed by:
Vicki Pero
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