8 Things to Look for in Parking Equipment
Keep These in Mind When Sourcing from Parking Equipment Manufacturers
In our 7 Key Questions for Parking Solutions, we talked about how goals, timelines, budget and more factor into procuring a parking system. But once you’ve covered off these high-level considerations, choosing parking equipment or evaluating parking equipment manufacturers comes down to the details.
You need to assess whether the parking hardware and software can meet your specifications, deliver ROI, be installed without disruption to your business, and more. Read on to discover 8 essential things to look for in parking equipment.
1. How Well Does the Parking Equipment Meet Your Specifications?
One of your first tasks is to find out which manufacturers provide the features and functionality you need. Often this comes down to how you want to charge your parking customers.
How do you want to charge transient parkers? If you plan to offer hourly rates, look at full featured parking equipment, capable of timestamping and calculating the parking cost to the minute. Otherwise, consider flat rate parking equipment, which is simpler and lower cost.
Do you have monthly parking cardholders? You’ll need access control parking equipment to authorize cardholders, plus software to manage and track their use. Do you have an existing card access system in the building that you’d like to tie into the parking system? You’ll want to work with a manufacturer who allows you to supply your readers.
What about special discounts or free parking? Some businesses offer “validated” or discounted parking to tenants and nearby businesses. At the most basic level, validated parking is offered in the form of stickers or coupons, which must be presented in conjunction with the parking ticket to reduce the parking payment due. If your specifications include validated parking, look for equipment like our Validation BOXX or Web Validation (new product) to apply and report on special discounts.
These are just a few of the most common parking equipment specifications we encounter in our work with customers. If you’re at the early stage of your procurement research and need a high-level overview, see our Definitive Guide to Parking Solutions. Or if you at the point of evaluating specific components, you may wish to view the detailed specifications of an Entry BOXX, Mini Pay BOXX, Big Pay BOXX, Exit BOXX or Barrier Gate.
2. Does the ROI Justify the Cost of the Parking Equipment?
When you’ve checked off your wish list of specifications, the next step is to decide whether the investment will pay off. Parking consultants specialize in just these calculations, but you can often crunch the numbers yourself.
Using average vehicle revenue (the average cost per vehicle to park), occupancy percentage and daily turnover, calculate your projected parking revenue. If you’re replacing parking lot attendants with automated parking equipment, you can also factor in labor cost savings and enhanced revenue collection. (Machines are simply more reliable at securing parking payments.)
Most businesses find they can recoup the costs of their parking equipment in under a year, and some in less than six months.
Parking equipment is viable for at least 7 years, and sometimes much longer, which makes the ROI clear. One of our customers recently sent back a part from a barrier gate that we built over 20 years ago! Parking BOXX direct drive barrier gate motors are long-lasting, and our kiosks are durable because we use rust-resistant powder coated stainless steel. Plus, all our kiosks are assembled in our own plants, for total quality control.
3. Is the Pricing Competitive?
Like all other products, parking equipment ranges from premium to budget. A parking consultant can help you understand the players in the industry and choose a good fit for your budget, whether you’re looking for higher-end, mid-range or value-priced parking equipment.
How does Parking BOXX equipment compare in price to other leading parking equipment manufacturers? We’re happy to say that our pricing is competitive with the top 5 manufacturers in North America. Our “Best Price Guarantee” policy means that if you can find an equivalent total parking system at a lower price, we’ll beat our competitor’s pricing by 5%.
4. Is it Easy to Use for Parking Customers?
At Parking BOXX we give a lot of thought to parking equipment usability. In fact, we’ve studied it extensively, with a focus on seniors’ needs. Not only does this demographic represent a growing proportion of users, seniors are also a good test case for usability.
Here are a few things to look for:
- From a distance, can you identify the parking equipment as the place you need to get a ticket or pay for parking?
- When you first approach the parking ticket or payment machine, is it easy to see where to start?
- Is it clear at a glance where to insert bills, coins, and credit cards, and where to take a ticket or change?
- Are symbols, icons and pictograms used, or are instructions only in text?
- If a user is in a wheelchair, are the buttons and card reader within reach?
- Are the buttons large enough for anyone to use?
Seniors in our study liked that Parking BOXX equipment has very large, high-contrast lettering at the top of the machine, so it’s easy to see from as far as 40 feet…and harder to forget to pay!
They also appreciated the clear layout and design of our ticket and payment parking equipment. We use highly-visible “start here” cues, arrows, flashing on-screen graphics and pictograms to draw attention to the next step. And based on the findings of our study, we’ve even increased our illuminated button size.
Many parking equipment manufacturers have engineers design the inside of the machine first. The outside, where the user interacts, is designed as an afterthought only.
When we design our parking equipment, we do so from the outside, in. The user interface is organized in quadrants, so, for example, all payment related instructions and actions are clustered in one area. This quadrant design makes Parking BOXX equipment easier to use.
5. Is the Parking Equipment Smart?
Parking equipment has come a long way and parking payment methods are an important area of innovation. EMV (which stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) is a global standard for chip-enabled credit cards and point of sale terminals. It’s the most technologically advanced and secure form of parking payment available. In 2016, we launched the first EMV enabled unattended parking system in the US.
But payments aren’t the only area getting an update. Smart parking meters take this old-school piece of parking equipment into the 21st century. At Parking BOXX, we offer smart parking meters that allow users to pay by parking space or license plate number.
When it comes to access control, smart technology opens the possibilities for credential reading. We offer Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) proximity and long range readers.
And when your parking customers need to find a space, fast, take advantage of our real-time space availability sensors and variable message signs.
Our P-123 Parking App is another form of smart parking technology that increases customer convenience. Users can pay for their parking at the tap of a phone, have parking validated, or renew access cards on-line.
You can expect to see more advancements in parking equipment, so source from a manufacturer that makes upgrades easy, like Parking BOXX.
6. Is the Parking Equipment Easy to Operate?
Whether you’re operating the parking equipment yourself, or outsourcing to a parking management company, ease of use is essential. Here’s what you need to look for.
Ease of Installation:
- Can the parking equipment be installed quickly? As a frame of reference, most Parking BOXX systems can be installed in a few days, while individual machines can be installed in just a few hours.
- Can the equipment be installed to minimize downtime? In many cases the system installations can be set to have minimal revenue loss – sometimes even as low as ZERO lost revenue.
- Can your existing building or employee access systems be extended to the parking kiosks?
Automation and Remote Management:
- While some parking lot owners may wish to have staff on-site, there are benefits to parking equipment automation, which is why Parking BOXX equipment is designed to work as a completely automatic solution, managed remotely. Can the parking system you’re considering be run without daily intervention? Can it be run from anywhere, using cloud software?
- When you need access to your parking business data, can it be readily accessed? Are the reports informative and easy to generate? Our EASE Parking Management Software is, as the name suggests, easy to use, but also has best-in-class functionality.
- EASE integrates with our parking equipment hardware, but it also conveniently integrates with customers’ existing software, like Oracle’s Opera MICROS property management system.
- Parking BOXX also works with your existing access control company to extend your existing access system into the parking area.
Another critical aspect of operations is training and service. This topic deserves an indepth look, and we’ll cover it off below.
7. Is the Equipment Backed by Training and Service?
Even highly automated, durable parking equipment needs maintenance. When sourcing a manufacturer, look at their training and the service offered on and off warranty.
At Parking BOXX, we know how important it is to get your parking equipment up and running quickly, to avoid revenue loss. Our warranty service and unlimited training are designed to let you do just that.
When you need hands-on help, we have friendly, knowledgeable service technicians and local service partners who come to you. Many common items like validation or coupon creation are covered under your warranty, so you don’t incur additional fees when you require assistance.
Most maintenance issues are simple enough for operators to easily perform themselves. That’s why we provide unlimited training. If one of our customers hires a new parking operator, or needs a refresher on their parking equipment, it’s part of the package.
From our experience, it’s easier to learn in short, focused sessions. When we install your parking equipment, we provide introductory training on the hardware. A month later, when you’re ready to run reports, we go through the software functionality over the phone. We find that the best learning happens when parking operators are focused on a specific task. As needs arise, we’re there for you.
Maintenance of Parking BOXX equipment is easy.
Need to remove a paper jam in your parking ticket printer? With our training, you can do it 30 seconds, with no need for a service call.
Time to replace a printer? It’s as simple as unscrewing the hardware and replacing it with your spare inventory. Most tasks take only a few minutes to DIY.
Want to add coupons or change your parking rates? We can guide you through, step by step, under warranty.
Good parking equipment service and maintenance keeps costs low and revenues high.
8. Does the Parking Equipment Come with Custom Branding?
In a previous post, we wrote about the importance of branded parking equipment. Having parking machines that are in your brand colors and with your logos go a long way towards minimizing confusion, building trust and creating a great first impression. Why go with generic parking equipment when you can extend your brand to the parking lot?
What Other Factors Are You Considering?
If you’re sourcing parking equipment, what considerations are top of mind? What are the challenges in evaluating manufacturers? Let us know, and please share any questions. We’re happy to help.
Talk to Our Parking Equipment Experts
Parking BOXX manufactures parking systems and equipment used by parking sites in operation from Los Angeles to the Caribbean to Newfoundland. Our technologies are easy to use, intuitive, and they really work. We back our products with best-in-class support, so that your parking facility stays profitable without downtime.
All of this is what you’d expect from your parking solutions – but we go one step further. Our customers love that Parking BOXX equipment can be fully branded with your corporate colors, logo and customized text. It’s a little thing that shows your customers you stand behind their parking experience.
For more information call us at 888-497-2811 or request a demo.