More Cameras and Equipment Equal Less Revenue?

One integrator drives to a better solution


Many of the newer and/or larger upscale developments are deploying some sort of resident and visitor control software. These systems perform a multitude of functions, a few of which are control of homeowner, visitor and contractor access and life safety response tracking. Some of the notable systems in this market are produced by Quick Pass and CapSure. Traditional electronic security integrators may wish to consider these products, as they are all designed to integrate with the CCTV and access control devices. It is important to note, however, that traditional reseller relationships are not always available and these manufacturers may sell to and support the end-user directly. Look to be a subcontractor to provide/install CCTV cameras and all items related to door access control.

The challenges are the restricted market channel for these community access software products; training technicians on new system software; and competition from swing and slide gate operator contractors. The benefits include: better profit margins when contracted as part of the decorator gate system; penetration in a lucrative and growing market segment; and greater opportunity for ongoing maintenance revenues.

The BIG numbers in parking revenue sales

Our CCTV and electronic access integration departments searched for additions to our product and service offerings that would offset the drastic declines in product pricing. We moved ourselves "into the garage" and began the installation and service of barrier gate arm controllers for vehicle access control. We had tremendous success introducing long range RFID readers (manufactured by TransCore) to the vehicle entrances, as they were easily integrated into our existing access control systems.

In many commercial office properties, non-tenants are charged a fee to park in the restricted lots. The equipment used in these revenue parking systems includes ticket dispensers, payment processing stations and fee computers. Many of the vehicle control gates that we serviced for access control were also connected to our customer's revenue devices, and it wasn't long before our "gate" customers were asking us to provide the same prompt attention to their revenue systems. Since 90 percent of the gate operators were manufactured by the same companies that offer the revenue parking equipment, we began a fast education to the money side of the parking industry. Notable providers in this market include Amano, Federal APD, Zeag and Magnetic/T2.

Revenue parking requires a whole new skill-set. Some of these are outlined in the challenges listed in this story. Learning the mechanics of all of the moving parts within ticket dispensers and cash machines is tough enough. Harder still is becoming adept at programming rate structures and understanding all of the issues surrounding credit card acceptance and payment card industry compliance.

The BIG payoff for your efforts

For the substantial investment in educating your sales and technical groups, you will find that revenue from a single parking system sale will often quadruple the income from one large CCTV or access control specification. We also learned that the sales cycle for parking equipment could be three to five weeks, versus six to eighteen months for an electronic security solution.

Entering the revenue parking systems market is not a decision to be made lightly. As with all good things, it will provide a series of setbacks along the path to greater profit rewards.

The challenges include: new equipment which requires new technical training; new markets which require new sales training; a considerable investment in both respects; and equipment failures usually mean that your customer is losing money every hour and the pressure on service techs will be intense. The benefits are best illustrated in this pricing example, all excluding software and installation labor:

Equipment for access control at one door: $ 800
Equipment for vehicle gate at one traffic lane: $3,000
Equipment for one ticket dispenser: $5,500
Equipment for one fee computer: $5,900

The parking vertical market is not as driven by price and has a shorter sales cycle. It's a growing market and presents many opportunities to systems integrators. For those who might not have the staff or money to go about it alone, it's worthwhile to investigate companies to consider partnerships.

Must Haves for the Vertical