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City of Birmingham, Michigan

The City of Birmingham, Michigan is a community of approximately 20,000 residents in the Detroit suburbs. SP+ operates five off-street parking structures with 3,920 spaces. These structures provide parking for 4,000 monthly pass holders and over 1.1 million transient customers each year. SP+ has been managing the off-street parking operations for the City since the 1950’s.

By 2014, the City’s magnetic stripe PARCS system was becoming increasingly unreliable. Frequent failures and repairs had pushed the annual R&M expenses over $150,000 per year. SP+ began the process to change out the equipment in each of the structures by reaching out to the only equipment vendor in the state at the time. The initial bid for the project was costly, coming in at around $1.2 million for all five structures. Through connections, SP+ had made in other areas of the country and a new vendor entering the market, we were able to solicit additional quotes which resulted in initial savings to the client of approximately $200,000.

Once a new vendor had been selected, SP+ worked with the City to fine-tune the proposal into an official RFP that would be released nationwide. This new RFP also removed cash and tickets from the system which saved an additional $200,000 in up-front costs by removing the need for more expensive machines able to process cash transactions. This would also help reduce the annual maintenance costs due to having fewer moving parts in the machines. A further savings of $20,000 per year would be realized in ticket costs. Due to our size and reputation, SP+ was also able to require a 2-year warranty on all equipment instead of the typical 1-year term.

SP+ worked closely with the City throughout the selection process. In the end, SKIDATA was selected as the new equipment vendor. As of June 2017, all structures have been switched to the new unified operating system. Through the work of the on-site managers and corporate support, the client realized an initial savings of $450,000.00 in up-front costs. The system will also save tens of thousands of dollars annually on equipment maintenance and ticket expenses.

Most importantly, the change has improved the customer experience in the structures. Credit card transactions have been reduced from 19 seconds on the old system to 7 seconds with the new equipment. We have also introduced a branded prepaid debit card called the “IN Card” that ties to various other City marketing initiatives. These cards allow the customer to enter and exit the structures without having to use their credit cards which shortens the transactions even further to 1 second each.