Purple Parking was established in 1987 as Secure Storage Ltd. by owner Michael Inwards. Among other items, Secure Storage Ltd. stored thousands of new cars on behalf of London car dealers. Having developed this niche by storing up to 15,000 vehicles on two sites in East and West London, Inwards branched out in 1990 starting an airport park-and-ride service from his site in Southall, London, with three buses and fewer than a dozen employees.
In 1995, the business expanded to include a meet-and-greet service called Secure Parking Ltd. With the advent of the Internet and the expansion of the Secure Parking business, the name changed to Purple Parking and the business grew further, offering off-site parking at most airports across the United Kingdom, including Heathrow and Gatwick.
Purple Parking's Heathrow fleet was particularly challenging to manage. Running 38 buses in addition to company cars, and employing more than 100 drivers, Purple Parking needed to keep track of a vast fleet—where the vehicles were located, who was using them or had used them last, and whether any issues required maintenance. Knowing the status of each and every vehicle was crucial and required a system that allowed notation and reporting associated with each vehicle as it was returned to the fleet.
Vehicle usage—both keeping track of which vehicles were being consistently used, and ensuring that vehicles were rotated so that they were used equally—was also a major issue for Purple Parking. Having employees choose a particular vehicle, such as the newest car, over others would present an issue—increasing the mileage and wear on that vehicle, and leaving other, less frequently driven vehicles an unused investment. Distributing keys sequentially, making use of all vehicles, and requiring employees to reserve the keys of vehicles with more usage, was an obvious solution to this issue.
Additionally, Purple Parking needed to be able to schedule vehicle usage to ensure that not only were vehicles available when needed, but also that the right vehicle was available for the right situation. When private cars were required, Purple Parking needed to know that the reserved cars were available, on the lot, and accessible by their proper drivers. This called for a way to ensure that cars would not be unavailable because they had been taken out by employees providing a different service.
With prior knowledge of key management solutions that addressed all of these concerns, Jim Betchley, transportation manager at Purple Parking, turned to Morse Watchmans' KeyWatcher as a way for Purple Parking to manage keys across its fleet. After viewing a demonstration of the KeyWatcher to ensure that it provided the right solutions, Betchley had KeyWatchers installed across Purple Parking's Heathrow locations. The company has also begun the installation process at other Purple Parking locations.
"Because I was already familiar with KeyWatcher and Morse Watchmans, I already knew they were the perfect solution for Purple Parking," says Betchley. "KeyWatcher offers total control over all of the keys in our system, which makes it essential to our operations now and going forward."
KeyWatcher allows Purple Parking's managers to authorize only certain drivers to remove the keys for specific vehicles. It also allows the removal of keys to be timed so that they cannot be removed before a vehicle is scheduled to be used. With KeyWatcher, Purple Parking was able to secure keys across their Heathrow location and receive alerts when keys were removed and returned.
Using Morse Watchmans' TrueTouch key management software, Purple Parking is also able to generate practical management reports that can trace key movements with a variety of data points including time, date, and the code used to access them. With built-in scheduling, the department computer automatically receives this data, which management can then sort and analyze to learn what vehicles are being used, when, and by whom. This data is then used to improve ROI.
"TrueTouch helps keep things organized for all of the drivers that Purple Parking employs," said Betchley. "The notes function allows our drivers to report any issues with a vehicle or any maintenance needs they have, and we can download that information to a central location. With the number of cars and buses we run out of Heathrow, it's really made our lives much easier."
Joe Granitto is COO of Morse Watchmans.