Shopping centre car parks have been dramatically affected by the slowdowns resulting from the COVID-19 restrictions. Allison Yeoland of Parking Asset Advisory shares some of her tips on how shopping centres can deal with their parking facilities during this time.
The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted almost every industry in some way and the retail industry more than many others. Gyms and salons have closed, shops are empty and people are being asked to only go out for essential purchases. As a result, shopping centre car park revenue has taken a massive hit.
As we progress through April, our hopes are that restrictions will start to ease sooner rather than later. In the meantime, here is some advice to help your car park operate smoothly, promote good hygiene and prevent expenses from getting out of control.
- Lift the boom gates
Many car parks require cars to slow for a boom gate in order for drivers to collect a ticket and pay when they enter or exit.
In these unusual times, it may make sense to raise these gates permanently, especially if you have a free period of up to three hours. Having boom gates raised means fewer touchpoints and will save people from having to touch ticket dispensing and payment machines providing a less stressful experience for the customers and essential workers — a gesture which many will remember for years to come.
- Encourage social distancing
If possible, put up signs recommending people leave empty spaces between cars when they park as a way of promoting social distancing. Putting sanitising wipes next to pay stations, or to review your pedestrian entry and exit point to encourage people to keep a safe distance.
Advise staff of what to do if they notice people breaking social distancing rules, to ensure their own safety is a priority, while asking Security to also monitor the car park for people gathering.
- Operator fee reduction to share the pain
In these times, everyone has been hit financially. It makes sense to initiate a frank conversation with your operator. Stand down their services in the short term or ask for a reduced management and monitoring fee, especially if boom gates are lifted.
Share the financial burdens and find a way to get back on track together. If they refuse, perhaps it’s time to look for another operator, sooner rather than later as you need an operator who works together as a team to enhance your asset not their bottom line.
- Limit valet services
Valets can be risky for hygiene reasons. If you need to keep using a valet, use an expert provider who can assure compliance when it comes to health and safety. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to press ‘pause’ on your valet service.
- Review your expenses
Take the time to review your expenses. Areas where you may be able to save include paper ticket costs, non-urgent repairs and maintenance, cleaning expenses (keep a focus on wiping surfaces and pay stations), hold cash collection, request a hold in your monthly credit card fee or limit your staff numbers.
While these times are unprecedented, they are not permanent. Stay positive and if you have extra time make the most of it to plan a more productive and efficient car park in future years.