The Parking Professional

By: Parking Consultants  05/12/2011
Keywords: parking

Car parking is a cash business and as such every facility should be subject to independent audit, as conventional systems fail to appreciate the scale and scope for fraud and negligence. An intimate familiarity with the systems and procedures of the individual car parks is required to ensure high levels of compliance.

Many car parks are built to an inappropriate scale because of poor appreciation of the foreseeable demand for the facility. Professional assessments dramatically reduce the scope for wasteful allocation of scarce capital resources while meeting the legitimate needs of the customers.

The introduction of appropriate staffing levels, operating hours, systems, procedures etc can result in significant savings for car park owners and operators. Decisions regarding appropriate car park control systems have cost implications that are frequently not recognised until the invoices arrive e.g. maintenance contracts, ticket supplies, spare parts costs. Professional advice at the start pays for itself very quickly.

Restricted sites or planning constraints force owners to make choices between providing parking for customers or staff. This ‘nettle’ is one that many refuse to grasp until complaints pour in. A professional parking demand strategy can help address this challenge before it becomes a problem.

Many car parks are designed by structural engineers with no experience of the operational issues to be addressed. Early input from a parking professional can save heartache for all –customers, staff and owners. A clear design strategy is essential as is expert professional input. Parking Consultants will work with your design team to ensure that finished product is the optimal solution. For an existing facility we will review the layout, the circulation patterns, the signage scheme the patterns of vehicular and pedestrian activity and ensure that your customers are provided with the most convenient and customer focused parking experience.

The choice of parking control and revenue collection systems is critical to the success of any car park:

  1. automatic system -
    • pay-on-foot
    • pay-at-exit
    • pay-at-entry
    • pay & display or
  2. manual system -

The choice of supplier and model has even more significant implications for all involved.

The specification of the system is increasingly a complex matter with decisions regarding credit cards, smart cards, mobile phone payment, note readers and changers, security systems, language and symbol options, complexity of tariffs etc. These decisions have implications for internal audit and control capabilities and requirements. Parking Consultants will provide expert specifications tailored to the known needs of the facility and so save costly mistakes. 

Who will park in the car park, why and for how long? How big should the car park be? Will it pay of itself? How many hours will it operate for each day? How many cars will park there and for how long will they stay? How much will they pay for parking – hourly, daily or season? How long will it take to build up to a stable usage level? Could it be developed in two stages? How much will it cost to build, to operate? What standards does it need to meet? How will parkers get into/out of the car park?

Key assumptions based on realistic models are critical to any financial analysis of a car park project – planned or existing. We will provide soundly based cash flow, profit and loss and balance sheet projections. We will in addition provide sensitivity analyses and benchmark against similar cases from our database as a ‘reality check’.

Buildings, equipment and procedures require investment in maintenance. Where should investment be concentrated to get the best short, medium and long-term returns? Industry and regulatory standards which applied when a car park was originally developed have probably evolved and it is likely that lighting standards, fire regulations and even bay dimensions need to be reviewed to bring them into line with today’s requirements. We will provide the appropriate advice for economical solutions. For a modest fee we will be happy to prepare a survey and report on the critical maintenance issues.

Many car parks are developed as customer and/or staff service facilities with only basic controls and management systems envisaged. Over time demand patterns develop which force rationing decisions and owners have to introduce new systems and make decisions regarding charging, access control systems, security, maintenance etc. These decisions lead to knock-on consequences including liability for taxes including VAT and commercial rates. In many cases these developments present commercial and customer service opportunities that require expert input from an early date – role for the parking professional.

Based on years of hard won experience in operating a broad range of car parks we can advise on the best way to oversee your car park to ensure that your customer service standards are delivered in an economical and profitable way. We will assist with job specifications, recruitment and training as well as any purchasing/tendering required.

Car parks that were developed to service one need discover that due to shifts in retail activity or road patterns or new competing car park facilities that the core business has moved on and that they need to develop a new market. Successful car parks understand that they must balance capacity with customer convenience to ensure that they keep coming back – the boomerang principle! Early professional advice and assistance on the opportunities and economics available will eliminate the guesswork, save both time and money and ensure that the design brief is properly targeted.

Who, what, why, where, when…. every business needs to know and intimately understand its customers needs. Car parks are no different and professional market research is the key to unlocking this essential information.

Local councils are faced with competing demands from ratepayers and customers of the towns. Independent advice on the options available when considering the introduction of pay parking schemes is invaluable. A clear strategy developed with all the stakeholders’ interests in mind is likely to assist with any initiative in this area.

Every car park has scope to improve its performance – increase revenues, reduce costs, improve access, enhance customer satisfaction, expand the customer base, add to shareholder value. Our reviews include reporting, management and staff performance evaluations, house keeping, and mystery shopper reports….

Tariff structures benefit from independent review and market testing; new products and offerings can improve revenues; early bird and night owl prices can open new markets, as can deals with local traders. Is the mix of season and hourly parkers properly balanced?

Every car park benefits from being easy to locate from the street, easy to navigate for the driver, easy to walk for pedestrians and easy to operate for everyone. Good signage is the key to achieving these goals and this has to be designed in by a professional who understands how a car park works. The availability of modern LED and Variable Message Signage systems opens up a wide range of communications options for modern car park facilities. We will advise on the best use of these technologies in your car park.

‘If you can’t count it you can't manage it!’ Every business needs systems to monitor key performance variables and good systems lead to quality car parks. Based on our intimate knowledge of many car park operations we will provide you with a complete set of documentation to ensure that your control and quality systems meet the highest standards

Keywords: parking