Ordering Tickets? Consider These Issues
October, 2003You've built the garage. The landscape is all in place. The signs are up. The ticket dispensers are installed. The first car arrives, and the patron pulls into the entry lane and reaches for a ticket. What? No ticket! Who forgot to order the tickets! Thousands of dollars are spent on a surface lot and millions of dollars on multi-story garages, but often you forget about the critical little piece of paper that helps run it all.
In the early days of the parking industry, all you needed to start parking cars was a cigar box and some change. That has radically changed over the years with the advent of sophisticated ticket dispensers and pay-on-foot machines. More and more operations are looking to increase their customer service and revenue control by using bar-coded or magnetic-striped tickets. These must be manufactured to exacting tolerances to work correctly and efficiently in the ticket dispensers.
In your search for a reliable ticket vendor, you should make sure that they are a qualified producer of the ticket you need. Many of the ticket dispenser manufacturers have a list of the approved printers of their products. Some even post this information on their Web sites. Most of these manufacturers also have a disclaimer that they are not responsible for the ultimate quality of the tickets you may purchase -- buyers beware!
Tickets are not all alike, and your ticket vendor needs specific information in order to produce the ticket you need. Tickets come in all shapes, sizes and configurations. Most dispenser manufacturers have several models of machines, and that means several varieties of tickets to go into those machines.
When you get ready to place a ticket order, there are several things that your ticket vendor will need to know. The most important piece of information you can supply is the brand and model number of the ticket dispenser. This piece of information, in most cases, will tell your ticket printer the ticket size, the ticket type (paper, polyester, magnetic stripe, bar code, etc.), and the ticket configuration (fanfold, roll or sheeted) that you will need. Your equipment distributor can supply you with the brand and model number. It would be a good idea to mark these on the inside of the cabinet door for future reference.
Other important information you need to supply is the copy you want printed, color of stock and the PMS color of ink for the tickets. The prefix and numbering sequence (when applicable), the amount of tickets needed and a shipping address should round out the order.
A reliable ticket printer will guide you on the copy placement as it has the necessary specifications about the ticket you are ordering, such as where the copy can be placed. Each equipment manufacturer has varying time-stamp and validation areas that should be avoided. Once you have placed your first order, your ticket supplier should then be able to guide you through a reorder quickly.
Why should you use a qualified ticket printer? The main reason is to avoid problems and to avoid getting into finger-pointing with your equipment supplier. You spent a lot of money to install that system, and then you put in a ticket that was not made to specifications to cut costs and your equipment jams. Now you may have to call out a technician. However, don't forget that you also have an irate customer in the lane, and possibly a revenue loss when that gate has to be opened manually.
The bottom line is that tickets are being produced today that do not meet manufacturer's specifications. Some ticket printers, in an effort to be able to sell their product for a lower price, will use cheaper materials than called for by the equipment manufacturer. This ticket may work for a while, but problems will come up. The equipment manufacturer requires specific ticket specifications so that their equipment will operate at its optimum level. Using an inferior ticket in the equipment will require more maintenance than necessary and will cause damage to the equipment.
So what do you need to order today? Valet tickets, magnetic tickets, bar-coded tickets? One, two, three or four colors of ink? Flat tickets, fanfold tickets or roll tickets? Tag stock, polyester stock or thermal stock? And you need them when???
Leonard J. Simek Jr., Sales Manager of Southland Printing Co., can be reached at (318) 221-8662.