Barrie Arnold is the Chief Commercial Officer of PayByPhone, a leading mobile payment provider for the parking industry, processing over 60 million parking transactions a year. PayByPhone operates in hundreds of cities, universities and private operators in North America, Europe and Australia.
Every owner or manager of parking inventory has 3 primary challenges: 1) generate more revenue, 2) reduce costs, and 3) maintain or improve customer satisfaction. Increasing parking rates is often met with considerable opposition, and acquiring more parking spaces requires investment. So the more relevant question is:
Making the parking experience as frictionless as possible goes a very long way. Offering payment options that appeal most to your customers is one way to increase loyalty, resulting in repeat business and increased revenue.
Mobile is the key
Parking technology (and technology in general) is evolving at a break-neck pace. Less than a decade ago, the majority of parking revenue was generated from cash transactions. Today, credit / debit cards and mobile payment are rapidly replacing cash as preferred methods of payment for consumers and businesses.
This opens up a variety of new opportunities for reaching more customers and providing a parking experience that is consistent with their mobile lifestyle. How do you take advantage?
Know your parkers
I believe the key to generating more revenue is getting to know your customers better. Today, parking is largely anonymous, meaning that most operators know very little about the people that park in their spaces. Who they are? How often do they park? Where else do they park? Where do they go and what do they do after they park? If you’re not sure where to start, customer reviews from online parking reservation platforms can help provide this information.
Provide the same customer experience regardless of payment method
When it comes to offering a consistent customer experience, the retail industry can provide a lot of learnings. Omnichannel is a big buzzword in retail, and something every retailer and restaurant is trying to perfect. It refers to ensuring the same, consistently great customer experience, regardless of whether the customer pays online, via mobile, at a machine or in-person.
Omnichannel is critical to success because consumers crave a seamless, consistent experience. But their shopping behavior isn’t always as predictable, which is why retailers study their users, in order to segment and target them and increase revenue. You, as a parking operator, can do the same. It comes back to knowing your customers’ preferences and behaviors.
Think of mobile as more than just a payment option
Convenience is king. Mobile payments and parking apps solve a real pain point, making them a powerful way to connect with new and existing customers. Think of mobile payments as your way ‘in’ with consumers—but it doesn’t have to stop there. Start thinking of mobile as a way to generate more revenue beyond just paid parking.
Consider the entire customer journey, rather than just building a solution that revolves around your transaction. You can actually leverage data from parking apps and companies like PayByPhone to deliver targeted, relevant offers such as monthly parking discounts, loyalty programs, rewards, event notifications and pre-paid reservation coupons.
It’s fast becoming cashless world, and the smartphone is opening up new ways to generate data and deliver personalized offers. Be sure to consider how technology and mobile can help you generate more revenue heading into 2017.
*Stastica 2016, comScore