By: LaDonna Sloan, Sr. Training Consultant
For university parking operations, summer is the season when campus is quiet and there is ample time to catch up on projects and implement changes for the coming year. It is also a time to prepare for the busiest season of the year – permit season. Whether you sell a few hundred permits or tens of thousands, it is important to be prepared for the rush of activity when permit sales go live. And if you sell your permits online using T2 FlexPort, you also need to make sure you are ready for increased online activity. Below are some simple steps you can take to get FlexPort ready for permit season.
Update Your Users
You should start your permit season readiness by adding new users and disabling users who are no longer with organization. Also check to make sure your users’ permissions are correct, such as the ability to create and edit users or change your system configuration. For example, your customer service reps should be users so that they have access to get into the back end of FlexPort to assist customers, but they do not necessarily need the advanced options.
Add a System Announcement
System announcements show up at the top of each page on your FlexPort website, and can be used to inform visitors to your site of things like details of an upcoming permit sale or COVID-19 precautions. Announcements can be created using HTML or plain text, and you can specify the period of time that the announcement will be shown by selecting a start and end date. You can also “disable” your FlexPort website when the announcement is displayed, meaning that when a visitor comes to your site, all they can see is the announcement. This feature can be useful the night before your permit sales begin, as it prevents customers from squatting on the page prior to sales opening.
Update Your Website’s User Interface
Before customers start visiting your website to purchase permits, ensure that the user interface is up to date and you have all the relevant information listed. Update the images in the carousel at the top of the page to include photos of your campus, parking facilities, or staff. You can display up to three images and add text and a link to each. Add links to the top and bottom of your webpage to sites that are relevant to your customers, such as social media accounts or other university departments, and if you haven’t already, remove the “T2 Default” information in the footer of your webpage and replace it with your organization’s information (name, address, phone number, and web URL).
Keep in mind that FlexPort takes its cues from Flex; therefore, Flex has to be properly configured. Double check your accepted payment methods – such as checking accounts, specific credit card providers, or billing to student accounts – and which groups are able to use each method, as well as your payment plan configurations. Visit the Permit Configuration page to review the detailed configuration of your permits in T2 Flex and which have been allocated to a Web drawer. For each permit number range in use, the configuration page lists the permit control groups associated with it and all of the associated facilities with their current sales capacities.
Prepare FlexPort for High Traffic
Once your permit sales officially go live you are going to have a large increase in traffic to your website, which can slow things down for your customers. Search “Performance Impact” in FlexPort for the settings that can optimize the performance of your site. The Lobby is where your customers will wait if there are too many people already in the workflow. Specify how many users can enter the workflow at once and how frequently the queue refreshes by searching “Lobby” in FlexPort settings. Additionally, having over 100 permit control groups can slow down your FlexPort website. Assess the need for those permit control groups, or at least the need to put all of them on sale at the same time. If you’re expecting thousands of people to hit your website at the same time to purchase permits, reach out to T2 Support so we can be prepared to help you out when your permit sales go live.
Review T2 Resources
T2 offers several resources for you to refresh your knowledge on FlexPort and seek answers to your questions. The T2 Knowledge Base has a section dedicated to FlexPort website administration and workflows, where you can find detailed instructions on executing common tasks. T2U has several courses related to FlexPort, such as FlexPort Custom Pages and Guest Authentication. Additionally, the T2 Community is a great resource to connect with your peers on best practices and useful applications of T2 solutions.
For more information on getting FlexPort ready for permit season, as well as instructions on how to execute many of tasks described in this blog post, click here for our recent webinar, FlexPort Readiness.