Magazine

The Revenue Survey

PT Readers Want Reliability Over Features

If you took a quick look at the results of Parking Today’s biennial e-mail survey on revenue
control, you would be forced to conclude the
following:
• Buyers don’t believe what the revenue control companies tell them (104 to 24).
• Owners want reliability and service over features
(76 to 50).
• Vastly more responders are going to buy new equipment in the next two years (108 to 32).
• They will spend between $100,000 and $250,000 on average (28), but nine will spend more than $1 million.
• Most won’t use consultants (58 to 42).
• But most trust their existing suppliers to bid (94 to 10).
• Amano (106), Federal (98), Skidata (78), WPS (39), Scheidt & Bachmann (36) and Zeag (32) were company names people could remember off the top of their heads.

But the devil is in the details.
PT asked seven questions, and its e-mail attack got through to about 5,000 people, with 198 taking time to respond. The reason there aren’t that number of responses on any of the questions is due to the fact that many didn’t answer all questions. We report all valid answers. Scientific? No. But it does give you a feel for how the market is working in 2007.
We have thought about some of the answers and offer some conclusions.
First, although it was no surprise that owners want reliability and service over features, the difference (72-50) wasn’t nearly as great as it was in our previous survey two years ago, when the numbers were in the 90-10 range. It could be that equipment is becoming more reliable and users aren’t experiencing the difficulties with it as they had in the past. Technology has solidified, and more systems are going out with fewer bugs and
problems.
Users are looking for features to solve their problems, and manufacturers are stepping up and attempting to provide them.
Second, a lot of systems will be bought in the next two years. It could be that people who are thinking about buying are also more interested in purchasing equipment, so these numbers could be skewed. However, the percentage is still great. A lot of money will be spent on revenue control systems this year and next. No doubt about that.
Users by a large number trust their existing suppliers. Those going out to bid will allow their current manufacturer the right to bid 9 out of 10 times. That’s a lot. There are companies out there doing a good job in keeping their existing customers happy.
About half will use consultants in preparing their bid documents. The rest? In reviewing the responses, the feel is that they are confident in their ability to describe their needs. This is due perhaps to experience with previous systems.
As for their trust in salespeople, that probably is an across-the-board comment on marketing, and may not be aimed specifically at the parking industry. Salespeople are looked on with suspicion in every industry. However, it also is true that companies have a tendency to say “we can do that.”
Customers will take a look at a number of different systems and want the “neat” features from all of them. Of course, no one system has all the features of all suppliers. Sometimes salespeople will quickly respond without thinking, and then be caught after the system is installed. It happens.
Most respondents who added comments said they typically checked with organizations that already had the system installed and asked about specific features that were important to them – no matter what the supplier’s marketing staff said.

The numbers:
1. What is the single most important thing you consider when purchasing a revenue control system?
Service/Reliability – 76; Flexibility/Auditability – 50; Ease of customer use – 24; Price – 12.

2. Will you be considering purchasing an RC system in the next 24 months?
Yes - 108; No – 32.

3. How much do you think you will spend (rounded-off)?
Less than $100,000 – 22; $100k-$250k – 28; $250k-$500k – 26; $500k-$1 million – 6; $1 million and up – 18 (mostly airports).

4. Do you believe what the manufacturers tell you about their equipment? (We were strict: If they said yes, they were in the “yes” column. If they said virtually anything else, we turned them into a “no.” )
Yes – 24; No – 104.
5. How will you prepare your specifications? Will you use a consultant?
Yes – 42; No – 58.

6. Will you allow your existing supplier to bid the new system? (We felt this would indicate whether or not they were currently pleased with their supplier/system.)
Yes – 94; No – 10.

7. Name six companies that manufacture parking revenue control systems? (This would give a feel for name recognition. It would help suppliers determine if their marketing programs were working.) The List (we didn’t include any that had fewer than 15 responses):
Amano/McGann (very few picked McGann alone) – 106
Federal APD – 98
Skidata – 78
WPS – 39
Scheidt & Bachmann – 36
Zeag – 32
Secom – 20
Magnetic Automation – 18





Sidebar:

Some quotes from the survey:

Parking equipment, for the most part, is proprietary, and if you want to be efficient, consistent and have compatible parcs that are networked, then you must commit to a manufacturer and its local franchised dealer. The relationship you build with the dealer is the key, because the manufacturer usually is non-responsive after the sale and leaves the installation, training, problem-solving and support to the dealer. This is changing (slowly) in the parking business, and the industry will be much better for it – at least from the perspective of the end-user. Hoorah!!!

Support service (the best system in the world doesn’t do me any good if I can’t get it fixed ASAP) and ability to interface with other systems (building security, hotel keys, etc.).

Yes, it’s what they don’t tell me that I am more concerned about.

What is the single most important thing you consider when purchasing a revenue control system? Functionality and after-sale service – sorry, cannot be separated.

I list out the “doomsday” scenarios and request examples of all the reports that can be generated. I use my auditor and a longtime parking manager to try to see if we can “manipulate” the system. Most consultants have never actually worked in the field, so they don’t understand all the little things. A cashier spends about five or six hours of an eight-hour shift with not much to do except stare at the operating system and figure out how it works. That’s where I concentrate when analyzing a proposed operating system.

Many salerpersons do not take the time to train and answer questions regarding capabilities of equipment to produce summary reports. Also, equipment companies do not do any follow-up with operators to see if the equipment is performing. They wait for the operator to call with a problem.

Do I believe them? Yes and no. Investigate what other cities are currently using, their comments and reports, positive and negative.

Believe manufacturers? Trust, but verify.

Article Abstract from January, 2007




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