If you’ve got a car park – of any shape or size – figuring out which parking management solution is right for you and your business can be tricky.
There are many different ways to manage the flow of customers in and out of your car park to prevent unauthorised use, which is ultimately a drain on profit. Solutions range from the more traditional to the high-tech, and each car park is often best served by a different one.
Car parking spaces are commanding a higher premium than ever, so choosing the right means of monitoring and managing your car parking can be the difference between lost profits or a boost for your business.
As an employer providing parking spaces for your employees, you have certain National Insurance and reporting obligations.
Below we’ve outlined some of the most popular parking management solutions, alongside the individual merits and drawbacks for each.
One of the most recent revelations in car park monitoring, ANPR, is something you would have been hard-pressed to find in many car parks even 10 years ago.
First employed by law enforcement agencies to track movements of criminals, ANPR has made its way into car parks across the UK in recent years.
Unlike the other parking management systems on our list, which require either a physical presence on site, like a parking warden or staff member, or the use of some other physical enforcement, ANPR is a fully automated system.
Its effectiveness as a car park monitoring system has made it a popular means of car park enforcement, allowing businesses to save money and resources on additional staff or wardens.
Offering a level of accuracy which is often not possible with people or physical tickets, ANPR can also provide concrete evidence of offences if an issue is ever disputed.
It also gets rid of the need for a physical barrier and can be set up to work with automated payment or bookings to ensure customer experience is smoother than ever.
The simple flexibility of ANPR systems means your business could issue permanent or temporary permits to staff and visitors, whilst keeping standard tariffs for customers, and it’s all done automatically.
If you have a large number of employees using your parking spaces, ANPR could help make the time consuming process of issuing permits a lot simpler.
For the majority of large businesses, such as hotels, hospitals, retail parks and supermarkets, this efficiency when dealing with large volumes of customers is what makes ANPR an increasingly popular choice.
Automated barrier systems
Automated barriers are the ideal solution for any enclosed car park with a set number of entrances and exits.
If cars can be reliably channelled through these entrances and exits, an automated barrier system offers a reliable means of managing customers in your car park.
Automated barrier systems are usually operated through a pay on exit model, also known as pay on foot, which charges visitors for their time more accurately. However, staff will usually have to be on call to deal with potential issues at the barrier, and automated barriers can require sizeable up-front investment to install and maintain.
In the case of typical multi-storey car parks, which are often built with low roofs and narrow bays to maximise available space, ANPR systems may not be the most effective choice.
Likewise a warden, whose main selling point is flexibility and mobility, may not be best deployed in a tight car park.
If you have a confined multi-storey car park or spaces within an enclosed business complex where the possibility of people entering and exiting without paying is minimal, a physical barrier should be your first point of call.
Many businesses will have a dispersed portfolio of car parks spread over multiple sites within a town.
Often employed by local councils which own roadside parking bays throughout town centres, traffic wardens are an effective solution to the issue of a decentralisation.
Groups of parking spaces can be tricky to monitor effectively with many automated systems. Although ANPR is more accurate for monitoring a car park with well-defined boundaries, in many cases it is simply not a feasible solution.
Installing multiple ANPR cameras across a town centre is expensive and inaccurate. It can be difficult to differentiate between short stay-drop offs and actual paying customers.
Traffic wardens are an effective parking management solution for spaces with longer grace periods. If, for example, a parking space is free for a maximum of three hours, automated solutions will fall short of the enforcement offered by a warden.
Self-ticketing is another alternative which allows businesses to enforce payment in their car parks, without having to employ a full-time parking warden.
Pay & Display
Usually deployed in tandem with traffic wardens, and now also available with ANPR for monitoring, pay & display systems can be seen as the one-size-fits-all approach to parking management.
Nowadays, pay & display is much more than just pre-paid tickets dispensed by a machine. Alongside cash, ticket machines can now take payment via card, text, call or app.
The versatility offered by pay & display systems is their main selling point. They can be deployed in any type of car park with correct signage, be that an open city-centre lot, an enclosed multi-storey, or a group of dispersed roadside spaces.
This versatility does however come with a few downsides, namely extra costs associated with upkeep, an enforcement system and the risk of theft or tampering with machines.
Traditional pay and display tickets can be inaccurate if not monitored properly. Some pay and display tickets are also not assigned to specific car registration numbers, meaning customers can pass tickets on to others. This can result in a small but significant reduction in income from your spaces.
Each of the solutions mentioned above come with their own merits and drawbacks. It all depends on the type of car park you are operating and the business objectives you are looking to achieve.
Options like parking permits for specific individuals, such as workers and residents, can be implemented on all of the systems discussed, although the specifics will vary.
Would you like to discuss the best for your current circumstances? One that will most effectively manage parking at your site? Get in touch with Creative Car Park today and one of our team will arrange a visit.