At first blush, free parking doesn't sound like something you should spend time or money on, as a property manager or business owner. After all, there isn't a direct revnue stream from it, so why does it matter?
Well, "direct" is the key word here, because when it comes to managing parking at a business, deficiencies might not show up on the surface of the balance sheet... but they could sink it altogether.
1. If your customers can't park, they can't visit your business.
The first one is pretty straightforward. We've all driven up to a busy strip mall and circled the lot twice, to no avail. No one likes being stuck in traffic, but then to arrive at your destination and still be 'stuck in traffic'? It's enough to make you not want to return to that business.
And that's just it - even if customers can eventually find a spot, that frustration will stick with them, when the need arises for a return visit. The problem? You don't want patrons to pay for parking, but if they don't pay, no one has to. This, of course, creates a conflict...
2. Free parking is the most likely to be abused.
The adage that people don't value what they don't pay for is particularly true when it comes to parking. All too often, we've seen free-parking zones become free-for-all zones, especially when parking resources are near a major city, college or university, entertainment facility, or other attraction.
But even if you have enough free parking for everyone, you still don't want random people parking on your property, because it's your property and you are responsible for maintaining it (and paying for that maintenance). If people know that you don't patrol your free parking resources, then they'll park there with impunity, because they can. It also introduces a security risk, especially in high-traffic areas.
3. Know who is on your lot, at all times.
We like to assume the best in everyone, but too many people - or a few of the wrong ones - introduces risk in the form of damages and liability. Not only should you know how many people are parked on your property, but also who they are, how often they visit, and how long they've been parked. One of the functions of property managers is to ensure the safety and security of their clients (and, by extension, their patrons), and having a running database of vehicles on the property is one of the best ways to do this.
If you're daunted by the task of collecting and keeping track of this data, fret not - SecurePark is about to debut our handheld license plate recognition tool that's affordable for operations of any size, and a breeze to use.
4. You can turn your free parking into paid parking, when you want to.
One of the most useful features of our Visitor Management tool - in our humble opinion - is its capacity to set free and paid parking hours for the same parking resource. So if your lot is near a big stadium or venue, for instance, you can keep parking free most of the time, but you can charge for parking during home games and concerts (and still manage your free parking at the same time!). If you're near an amusement park, you can charge for parking during the summer when the park is open, but keep parking free in winter when it's closed. Whatever your situation, you can use your usually-free parking resources to make incremental revenue if you manage them properly!
Intrigued? Learn more about Visitor Management and Enforcement, check out our demo videos, or drop us a line and let us walk you through how effective parking management can save (or even make) you money!