Guide to Procuring for a Mobile Parking Payment App
Beginning the Process Selecting a mobile pay parking provider can offer a more convenient parking option and improve operational efficiency within your organization. Whether you’re considering going out to a Request for Proposal, are already in the process of evaluating mobile pay vendors, or are exploring the idea of an ecosystem with multiple providers, choosing the right technology partner is crucial. However, evaluating each vendor and determining which criteria is most important can be difficult. In this guide, we’ve outlined important questions to ask in the evaluation process to ensure the success of your solution.
What are my mobile pay vendor requirements? As you begin exploring potential vendors for mobile pay parking technology, it’s important to approach the decision-making process with a firm grasp on what to look for. This will help you choose a lasting solution that is appropriate for your parking environment. Here are recommended requirements for your mobile pay parking app:
Standardized Back-end Platform
The management tools and reporting capabilities behind a mobile payment parking solution are just as important as the app itself. In order to seamlessly manage and monitor your operations, your vendor should provide a complete end-to-end mobility solution that can integrate with more than just mobile payments. Integrating with digital permit and enforcement systems allows for modernized permit issuance and for enforcement officers to operate in real-time.
Furthermore, with a standardized platform, you are able to consolidate all of your city’s data, including rules, rates and restrictions for parking, to one back-office system, making it easier to share with partners. This ultimately adds optionality (like another parking app or a non-traditional parking app) for parking and helps build a true multi-tenancy solution.
From parking to permit management and enforcement, access to one single platform will provide your organization with data to transform your operations.
Vendors achieve flexibility through an open API (Application Programming Interface) architecture. An open API-based system facilitates the push and pull of data between various parking systems, including meter hardware, handheld enforcement devices, LPR technology, and even other parking apps. Open APIs are especially important as the industry changes and more cities begin to explore new ways to grow digital utilization in their parking ecosystems.
With a parking vendor that has an open API architecture, you can choose to add more parking payment options in your environment to provide a better customer experience for your residents and guests. This means the parker can use whatever app is already on their device, as opposed to the parking organization telling the parker which application to use. Open APIs also give you the opportunity to unlock new and exciting possibilities: the ability for non-parking apps, like connected cars, navigation apps, and payment apps, to add parking as a feature in their native experiences. Said another way, with open APIs parking operators will be able to make accessing parking services a seamless part of their customer’s daily lives and not a standalone, isolated experience.
As your operation grows, your mobile pay parking vendor will seamlessly enable more parking payment options with an open API infrastructure.
Working with a vendor that is an integrated payment processor can save you time and more importantly money. Because parking transactions are small by nature (typically under $10) mobile pay vendors that can process the transaction understand parking margins and typically have negotiated lower interchange rates. This means you’re not paying high fees on small transactions. Additionally, having a vendor that can serve as your merchant processor in a single or multi-app environment streamlines your back-end with financial and management reporting all in one place helping save time on reconciliation.
Having a vendor that is a certified merchant processor eliminates the costs, hassles and confusion of third-party gateways and processors, and will help simplify your operations.
A major component in the vendor selection process is evaluating their level of commitment to continued innovation:
- How often is the vendor pushing updates to clients?
- What is the most recent update they released?
- What new product features is the vendor working on?
- Is the vendor exploring new forms of parking payments or an ecosystem that consists of non-traditional parking apps?
Working with a technology partner that continues to innovate, keeps up with industry trends and pushes the boundaries of mobile pay parking will prove to be a valuable long-term partner as mobility changes and adapts.
Create a realistic, definitive launch timeline and be sure that the potential vendor can meet your organization’s requirements. Ask about the length of the vendor’s average deployment, the type of implementation schedule it has in place, and for a project schedule with milestones and completion dates.
Heavily consider the level of ongoing support that the company offers, including dedicated project managers during the launch process and access to client and customer support teams. With a dedicated project manager, you’ll be able to easily give feedback and be sure that deadlines are met. A dedicated client support team member is critical to the ongoing success of the partnership.
How Do I Approach Cost?
In competitive bidding scenarios, providers will drop prices extremely low. While the lowest cost option may be appealing, it’s important to determine whether this low price is sustainable for the vendor. Not all mobile pay parking systems are created equal– there are many features that set providers apart.
Approach this purchase as a lifetime investment. Selecting a vendor based on price alone is risky, and could put your organization at risk and reevaluating your decision. By knowing the right criteria to look for and questions to ask, your organization is one step closer to a successful mobile pay parking program.
How Do I Make Sure People Use it?
App utilization can be one aspect of a mobile pay provider’s service that gets less attention during the evaluation process yet is vital to the success of your chosen mobile parking payment system. Consider the following questions when evaluating a partner:
- What strategies has the vendor-led in the past to increase utilization?
- What sets the vendor’s strategy apart from other competitors?
- What measures has the vendor taken after the launch to track usage?
Developing a plan that is right for your community and parking environment is vital to program success. A recent case study showed that one mid-sized city was able to reach 70% app utilization using a customized marketing plan that included everything from a how-to video and radio advertisements, to promotional giveaway items.
Successful mobile pay rollouts include high involvement from vendors and parking leaders since your organization knows your customers best. Getting the word out and adding a personal touch is done best when your operation is taking an active part in the process. For example, seeing the Mayor or other influential officials embrace this new technology will have a big impact on adoption.
The utilization of mobile pay parking apps must be evaluated beyond the level of the potential vendor or vendors you are considering. You must also evaluate the level of internal commitment you’re willing to make towards your operation’s success, but effort pays off. Increased utilization results in decreased reliance on hardware, meaning you can save on maintenance costs.