Tracking Tools Key to Successful Valet Operation
By Mine Gulec
A valet parking operation has many opportunities to interface with customers, and each interaction is an important part of the experience. Courteous valets make a good impression, fast service is vital, and the orderly management of tickets, validations and claims is a must.
The paper trail is one aspect of a valet operation that is absolutely concrete – there is no room for interpretation. Good service will go a long way toward creating customer loyalty on its own. But combine it with reliable payment and transaction procedures, and customers will return often and with confidence in the operation.
Without strong accounting tools, cracks in the system will quickly turn into lost revenue and customer dissatisfaction. Customers will observe and remember disorganization, confusion or lapses in service when it comes to payment and claim issues – and they won’t blame discrepancies on anyone but the valet.
A ticket inventory system keeps track of each ticket issued and offers continuous reports on how many tickets are out, how many have been processed, and how many are still available to incoming parkers.
At the beginning of each week, month or year, depending on the operator’s choice, the ticket inventory system is set with a starting and ending number.
At entry, the system will reject any ticket that has been recorded as closed or is not from the operator’s inventory. The bar-coded tickets should not be reused, reissued or duplicated. If the system detects a ticket that is invalid, the gates will not give access to the vehicle, and employees will be alerted.
At exit, the system matches the barcode on the ticket with a confirmed vehicle request before it releases the vehicle. If the request is not confirmed, or if the ticket is invalid, the vehicle will be held at the gate.
Validation tracking protects revenue by creating custom validations and ensuring that every validation transaction is closed. Some systems’ validation tracking applications print scrambled and bar-coded validation stickers. Each master account receives a numbered and recorded batch of validations.
When customers ask for their vehicles, they present their tickets and validation stickers to be scanned and approved by the operating system. No manual entry by employees is required. And because creation, distribution and collection of the validations are automated, all transactions are recorded and there is no opportunity for theft, re-use or re-issue of validation stickers.
The validations system can also create master accounts and manage the implementation of those accounts from setting rates and fees to sending invoices.
Like it or not, damage claims are a part of the business of valet service. A good claim-tracking feature offers a procedure for claim information to be entered and monitored by the operating system.
Once a claim is filed, the system will track its progress and notify staff and management of changes in status until its resolution. Anytime a claim is filed, management is notified by e-mail, and images from the vehicle, recorded digitally at entry, are automatically uploaded to the system and saved until the claim has been resolved.
Some systems includes garage access and automatic data entry features designed to help prevent damages and customer claims. These features protect the operator by scanning the vehicle, decoding the vehicle’s make, model and VIN, and recording any previous damages.
Damage claims can be a major drain on the income and resources of a valet operation. Even when every precaution is taken, accidents happen. The tracking system will minimize the man-hours spent handling claims and reduce costs. Decreased paperwork and faster reporting make claims less burdensome for valet staff and management.
Keeping track of all the aspects of a valet operation is intense work, and good tools are essential. Speedy service is possible only if the valet works fast and the payment procedures can keep up with the pace. Payment options and claims must be handled in a timely and effective manner.
Some valet operations excel at customer service; others have bullet-proof accounting procedures. But hospitality and accountability are both required for real success.
The system described is by Automated Valet Parking Manager (AVPM).
Article Abstract from January, 2010