6 areas of concern for your parking lot.
By Erik Eloe
Have you paid attention to the parking situation at your retail facility, mall or mixed-use development lately? Even if you’ve become so accustomed to routine that you don’t notice anymore, someone is noticing. Customers, business owners, employees, visitors and VIPs might be grumbling to themselves every time they pull into or out of a parking space. Lack of maintenance and professionalism can hurt the image of a retail facility and/or business. By solving parking problems, you can enhance the experience of anyone who works in or visits your facility. A safe and pleasant parking experience will give them a positive first impression of your facility.
Take a tour of the parking lot or deck, and note the following:
- Look with a critical eye for evidence of neglected cleaning and maintenance. Is there trash on the ground and/or are trash receptacles overflowing? Are there unpleasant odors? Is there any graffiti? Are parking stripes obscured with grime or worn away? If it is an enclosed parking structure, do the walls need pressure washing or painting? Is water dripping from the ceiling or pooling on the ground? In winter, are ice and snow taken care of properly and in a timely manner?
- Check for lighting problems. Are bulbs burnt out or is the lot or garage too dimly lit? Is it evenly lit or are there dark, unsafe-feeling areas? Is energy being wasted on inefficient lighting?
- Take a look at the signage. Are any signs handwritten, lacking consistent imagery, confusing, or worse — nonexistent? Are one-ways and exits clearly marked? Drive through as if you’d never been there before, and see if you get frustrated finding your way around and/or exiting. Is it easy to figure out how to walk from the parking area to the building entrance? How quickly can your car exit, especially during periods of high volume?
- Check for damaged, unreliable or unsightly parking equipment. Inspect gates, gate arms, card readers and operator booths.
- If there are parking attendants, are they well groomed in clean, pressed uniforms with a logo? Are they pleasant and efficient? Notice their verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Are you able to communicate easily with your parking provider’s management? Even if you haven’t spotted any of the above concerns, is your parking vendor proactive in using new technology and other advances in parking operations?
- Look for opportunities to minimize your parking structure’s impact on the environment. The “How Green is Your Garage?” checklist will help you spot problems and give you ideas for upgrades.
If you see any of these signs of neglect or opportunities for improvement, talk to your parking provider. If they can’t address your concerns in a satisfactory way, consider getting bids from other vendors. Your parking provider should be your partner in every way, helping you keep costs in check while creating a better, more efficiently managed parking operation.
A company with expertise in high quality parking services will stay on top of maintenance and enhance the facility’s image. But it doesn’t end there. They may be able to help you enhance revenue generation, fund upgrades and build value for your asset. Advances in lighting, for example, can pay for themselves in energy savings. EV charging stations are becoming a necessity and send the message that you care about people and the environment.
To further enhance your sustainability efforts, choose a parking provider with knowledge of Parksmart (formerly known as Green Garage Certification) and its official guidelines for having your property certified. While helping you “green your garage,” items such as the following can also result in operational cost reductions of up to 25%:
- Waterless or water-efficient fire suppression systems.
- Stormwater management.
- Green cleaning.
- Low- or no-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint and other coatings.
- Eco-conscious roof options (such as green roofs or roofs that collect rainwater).
A parking expert should also know how to make parking painless through proper signage, traffic management and technology. With new wayfinding systems, for example, parkers can scan a barcode (QR Code) with their smartphones to locate where their cars are parked, determine parking rates, and get general information such as a phone number to call in case they have questions. Frequent parker programs, online reservations and payment, tire inflation stations, battery chargers, bicycle parking, carsharing incentives, and parking apps can enhance parking customer convenience. Your facility or business might even benefit by contracting for private shuttle service to and from public transit stations, attracting customers and employees from a wider segment of the population (especially Millennials, who prefer public transportation).
First impressions count. Even if your property is attractive in all other ways, a poor parking situation can negatively impact the experience of anyone arriving or leaving, and therefore impact your business and any others in the building. In today’s competitive environment, almost anything you can do to make life (and doing business) better is worth doing.