We Do Need a Parking Pro Running This Garage!


We Do Need a Parking Pro Running This Garage!

I was asked to consult on a project in the eastern half of the U.S. It’s a shopping center where they have been collecting parking fees on entry for their daily parkers. The goal of the asset manager is to remove all personnel from the garage and run it with payment machines in the entry lanes (free exit).
There are 1,000 monthly parkers and 500 or so daily parkers during the week and twice that on weekends. The charge is $3 per entry, and according to the existing cashiers, 65% of the parkers give $20 bills and expect change. There are three entry lanes and free exit.
Got the picture?
The question is, will automating this facility work? In a standard parking operation, I would say yes. It doesn’t seem too stressed, and with one attendant/manager on duty to handle issues (jams, change replacement, customers with problems, etc.), the facility should run smoothly.
Here’s the problem: The asset manager wants to run with no personnel in the garage and have parking issues dealt with by staff from her office, which is 1,000 feet and two floors away.
I asked how situations such as ticket or receipt jams would be handled (let’s face it, no matter whose equipment you purchase, things do go wrong). I was told that security guards could go down and clear the jam.
I suggested that would mean that security guards would have keys to the machines. That brought a response most easily described as “crickets.”
The deal is that this very efficient asset manager has never run a garage, and even after my super “Parking 101” course, still doesn’t understand how fast things can go wrong in an active parking operation.
She is going to experience it very quickly on Day One – particularly as the “shakeout” period is underway – and my guess is that having unprepared staff onsite to deal with these issues will simply make matters worse.
I can add that of the existing 1,000 monthly cards, most have only the person’s first name and last initial, plus some license numbers. No address, phone or other pertinent information. Will all this be collected before new monthly cards are issued with the new system?
My sense is that if you have a million-dollar revenue-generating parking operation, you need someone with parking experience running it.
I’m not sure that on-the-job training is where you need to be when a 1,000 daily parkers (weekends) and a 1,000 monthly parkers try to get through three lanes of parking when it’s time to replenish the change fund, a gate has broken off, a monthly is caught in (timed) passback, and another is locked out because they didn’t park in the “nest” (did I tell you about that?).
All of this is going to happen on a weekend when there is no one in the asset manager’s office and a security guard is attempting to … well, do what?
A parking pro would be trained to quickly solve mechanical problems, handle monthly parker issues, know how to open and close lanes to replenish the change fund, and keep the facility running smoothly.
Parking can be a high- pressure business. Tenants want their employees at work on time, and they want their customers feeling good about themselves when they arrive. Parking should be the most professionally run of any aspect of an office/shopping development.
It’s not something that can be
left to chance, or to someone
who does it as an afterthought.
I did an audit the other
day of a facility that has more
than 20,000 active monthly
parkers. They have the card
information in two databases, one
for billing and one for access. The
garage management assured me that the
two databases were exactly the same.
I know how difficult it is to get the correct information in a single database with 1,000 active cards – how can one be sure that the two separate databases with 20,000 records can be correct? I know I can’t.
 The only way I know to get an access database perfect is to have a positive posting system, so that when dollars come in, they are posted to an account and the cards associated with that account are then activated. That way, at least the companies that are paying are getting exactly the number of cards they pay for, and individuals are credited when they pay, and the cards that aren’t paid are turned off automatically.
Who is going to compare 20,000 records and ensure the access information and the accounting information are the same? What if only 2% of the cards are left on when they weren’t paid (that’s 400), and the monthly fee was $250 – that’s a “minor” $100,000 per month error!


Article contributed by the Parking PT team.
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