Sheldon Williams, Gleaner Writer
It has been almost a year since Lasco Financial Services launched Jamaica's first - and only - drive-through cambio at its 29 Red Hills Road, St Andrew, head office. Marketing officer at the location, Matthew Blake, attributed Lasco's ability to facilitate the cambio to the size of its premises, which proved the competitive edge eventually resulting in their monopoly of the niche drive-through market.
"We opened the cambio in 2004 at Red Hills Road as we found it to be a convenient corridor to do business. Our analysis of the market showed that no other cambio in Kingston had ample parking arrangements and thus our location would satisfy this unmet need for cambio customers," Blake said.Blake emphasised that the typical processing time for a drive-through cambio customer is approximately four minutes. He explained that customers simply drive up to the window where the current exchange rates are displayed on a whiteboard. They then move the vehicle forward and, on the right, an interface screen displays an image of the teller. Customers can then have dialogue with the teller about the transaction.
"It's a two-way interface, so the teller can see them from where they are inside the cambio and they can look on their screen and see the teller. The customer would say, for example, I want to change US$500 today and the teller would say OK," Blake explained.
"The teller then sends down a canister that flies down through a chute. The customer counts out the money so that the teller can see and then puts it in the canister and sends it up back and the customer can actually see when the teller receives it, opens it, counts it back, verifies it through the microphone and the customer confirms, (then the teller) changes it to Jamaican dollars if that's what the customer wants and sends it back and the customer counts it."
A power cut does not affect transaction. "If light goes, the UPS maintains things for a while and then the generator kicks in, so unless the generator goes down, we won't have an issue," Blake said.
However, Blake said the company does not necessarily attract more drive-through than walk-in customers " Our drive-through is limited to persons doing transactions valued at US$750 or less. This allows for smooth and speedy transactions," he outlined. He added that, on average, only about 10 per cent of customers use the drive-through.
The most evident advantage to drive-through customers is "getting to transact business in the comfort and privacy of their vehicles. This allows them to relax and feel even more secure in the confines of their motor vehicles." Blake added that there is adequate internal and external security to keep customers feeling secure.
As a measure of customer satisfaction being maintained, even in the absence of competition, Blake said, "our cambio transactions have grown year over year and our drive-through transactions continually grow month over month". At the same time, he admitted that there are no immediate plans to open drive-through cambios at other Lasco outlets but hinted that he anticipates an increase in drive-through activity as the festive season approaches.
The Lasco Drive-Thru Cambio is open Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.