On the Move? Be Flexible
Sometimes, being a commercial operator can be like musical chairs. You move from place to place, often at the whim of an owner. So operators such as Quality Parking Service need revenue control equipment they can take with them when they move.
According to Quality Parking Vice President Ron Parto, owners often don't want to pay for the equipment and expect the operator to handle it on their own. "That's super," said Parto. "However, when we leave, we like to take what we own with us, and the equipment in this garage enables us to do just that."
Parto was referring to a barcode system that's in use at 606 South Olive in Los Angeles in a valet application, but which he has in use in other applications.
It's an offline system designed by Sysparc. The small, hatbox-size ticket dispenser can be located on a counter or in a small rack. The tickets have all the information about entry time and date programmed in the barcode printed on the ticket in the dispenser.
When the driver brings in the ticket for payment, it is scanned and the fee computed based on a rate structure that is programmed into the system's tabletop computer. If desired, the system can work in an online mode, with the cashier computer tracking entries and exits and data fed to a central computer for reporting and audit.
"In many valet applications, we don't have the luxury of lanes, booths or, in some cases, even power," Parto said. "This system gives us the ability to have control while at the same time the flexibility of being able to move about as necessary in typical valet surface applications.
"Uncontrolled valet applications are difficult to audit. Normally, an auditor simply looks to see if there is a ticket on the car. However, that doesn't solve the problem of tickets being reused.
"A neat feature of this system is a handheld scanner," Parto said. "The auditor can download all outstanding tickets into the scanner and then scan all the tickets on vehicles in the lot. If he finds one that isn't valid, it would trigger a more complete audit.
"Simply knowing that this capability and technology exists has helped greatly reduce such problems at our locations," he said.
Some valet operations work in a prepay mode. Tickets are issued on entry and paid at that time. When drivers exit, they insert the ticket or give it to the cashier and the gate opens.
"The small size and flexible software fits well into our valet/hotel/restaurant/office building environment," Parto said. "Although it can handle larger applications, our use in smaller garages can give us a leg up on our competition."
Ron Parto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, log on to www.sysparc.com.
Article Abstract from March, 2006