7 Questions To Ask When Choosing Parking Software

It’s an exciting time! You’ve realized that you need new parking software for your asset. Maybe you’ve opened a new location and need more resources. Perhaps you’ve upgraded your infrastructure, and you need software that takes advantage of new features. Or, maybe you’ve just had enough of your outdated system and it’s time for a change. Regardless of the reason, it’s a big step for your parking systems.

Here’s the thing: Choosing the right software is rarely simple

There are many variables to think through when considering your options. The decision should come down to which problems need addressing, what capabilities you require, and knowing your plans for the future. To even get that far, it’s essential to have a strong understanding of what’s happening in your business. This has been particularly challenging during the pandemic. That’s why we created “agility training” guidelines with some smart solutions you can use to audit your operation. This type of exercise can uncover needs you didn’t know existed.

“The most successful purchases are made by the most informed buyers. Stay up-to-speed by having an intimate knowledge of your operations and what customers want.”

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Understand Your Needs Before You Decide

Do you know your daily utilization rates or which services people request the most? What exactly is cloud software? The answers to these questions will help you understand what you need in your parking software. The most successful purchases are made by the most informed buyers. Stay up-to-speed by having an intimate knowledge of your operations and what customers want.

On a high level, being aware of industry trends will also give you some direction. You want to make sure you’re making the right choice not just for tomorrow, but for five or 10 years down the road. For example, how ready are you for the future of sustainable energy? McKinsey’s 2021 Global Energy Perspective estimates that half of the world will rely on renewable energy in the next 14 years. That means ensuring you’re prepared to accept electric vehicles in your systems. Also, consider contactless payments. They’re not just a temporary salve for pandemic parking—they’re sticking around.

Once you get a firm grasp of the world around you and your customers’ needs, then it becomes time to choose software. That means asking the right questions, like the ones below.

Is it hosted on the cloud?

Cloud software is the standard in most applications in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) and digital tech industries. The same is becoming true for the future of parking. Cloud computing provides invaluable benefits, including instantaneous upgrades and the ability to add features easily. Not to mention, cloud software can end up being cheaper over time than individual systems.

The way a cloud operates makes upgrading and updating your systems seamless, usually with no effort on your part. A central update takes care of all of your systems simultaneously because everything is connected. Even your hardware can be upgraded via the cloud, resulting in fewer service delays. Consider the alternative, where service is disrupted and upgrades from a physically present technician are required.

You can also rest easy with a high level of software security. Your information is separated from other data, with backup available should something happen. In that case, your information restores and it’s business as usual.

What data will the software provide?

Think about the way you’re using active data to learn about your customers. If you’re not using the latest technologies that showcase real-time data, you’re missing out on revenue optimization. Real-time data shows you a snapshot of what’s happening in your asset at any given moment, with metrics like utilized capacity or daily revenue. When you know granular details such as these, you can make quick decisions.

Be sure to ask exactly what you’ll be able to see. The more you know about your operations, the better you’ll be able to capitalize on opportunities or pull back resources when necessary. In the case of creating mobility hubs, rich data should tell you which areas of your asset can be repurposed. This will help you innovate and add new services such as micro-mobility or car tune-ups.

Useful data is the key to staying relevant to customers. Without it, as Flash Founder Juan Rodriguez describes, you’ll be “flying blind.”

Will the customer-facing side be easy to use?

What’s most important in any parking operation is the experience of the customer. As Parkwell CEO Joel Christensen describes it, “In a perfect world, going into and out of a parking facility should be a forgetful event.” In other words, a customer should be able to do their business with as little waiting, payment processing, or other friction as possible. To that end, your parking software should make transactions quick and easy, while also ensuring that various hardware pieces operate without issues. In practice, this includes contactless payments, paying on your phone, or entering a parking lot with gates automatically opening.

Ask to be taken through an average customer transaction to get a feel of the software. If you know the material backwards, you’ll be able to address any questions a customer might have.

Is it customizable?

No two businesses are alike. That means you might be able to gather different data than a competitor. Your software should reflect that by allowing you to customize the type of data you’re getting. It should feature a dashboard with metrics unique to your operations. With intelligent systems, you’ll be able to arrange data in a way that unlocks capabilities. Only customization can do this. The best software allows you to access predictive data that you can tailor to your operations. With that amount of information, you can adapt more easily to changes in the industry.

If the software doesn’t have customization capabilities at the moment, ensure that the customer service team can build it into your dashboard.

Is it easy to address problems?

Problems come in different forms. They can be physical or digital, structural or operational. Good software should make it as easy as possible to isolate the source of your issue. With older equipment, malfunctions would often leave operators feeling as if they were deserted on an island, waiting for rescue. Efficient software, especially software built on the cloud, can resolve issues quickly. If a problem arises, it can usually be solved remotely via a patch or fix that’s virtually uploaded. No more lengthy waiting periods. No more costly repairs.

Be sure to understand what happens if you find a problem. Know who to contact and the average response time. In modern software such as the packages provided by Flash, most fixes should be able to happen virtually. Even malfunctioning hardware can often be addressed digitally.

"Parking software shouldn’t be something that simply sits in the background while you find revenue—it should help you in that search."

How much does it cost?

The big question. Operators find themselves constantly optimizing revenue streams while balancing capital expenditures and operational costs. Ultimately, the systems that run your asset should be creating more efficiencies, which lead to value. Parking software shouldn’t be something that simply sits in the background while you find revenueit should help you in that search. Therefore, you should consider this purchase an investment.

When you negotiate additional support, automatic upgrades, and intelligent data in your package, you’re potentially saving on future add-on costs. There are also ways to minimize expensive capital expenditures. With Flash’s hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) model, you effectively engage in a monthly subscription that avoids these high costs. By paying monthly for services and the packages you choose, you can utilize the latest hardware without having to buy it outright. We take care of the software updates automatically.

There are unique cost structures out there that can provide alternatives to outdated systems. Never before has parking software had as vital a role in finding revenue as it does today. Factor this usability into your budget.

Can I integrate it with other products?

This question has become more critical than ever. Mobility is increasing in complexity, leading to the evolution of parking assets into mobility hubs. It will be more difficult for isolated operators to stay relevant and compete when there are many options available for travelers. A commuter might forgo your asset for an e-bike. Or, they might be directed to a competing garage because of an app they use. The solution lies in partnerships and integrations that noticeably increase the level of your service. It’s why we’ve partnered with Arrive, a platform that helps travelers park, while Flash continues to provide software for assets.

Your software should be able to help you with these innovations by integrating with other platforms or apps. The result is a business that’s always ready for the future.

"Today’s software doesn’t just lift gates and take payments; it can impact a traveler's journey from door-to-door. Intelligent data doesn’t just start and stop at the kiosk—it teaches you to innovate."

Feel Confident That Your Software Adds Value

Look past the historical usage of parking software. Today’s software goes beyond lifting gates and taking payments; it can impact a traveler’s journey from door-to-door. Intelligent data doesn’t just start and stop at the kioskit provides you with the necessary insights to innovate. Your next parking software package can do all of this and more, and it’s still only the beginning of the smart parking revolution. Make sure you have a ticket for the ride by asking the right questions before you buy.

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