The absence of car noise, gate lifts and parkers chatting on their phones has left a maddening silence across the parking industry worldwide. For others like me who have been in parking for years, there is nothing worse than seeing emptiness in your lots at times they were once full. What are we supposed to do now?
Honestly – these are crazy times and no one’s crystal ball is any clearer than anyone elses. But what I do know is this – we used to have inefficient commute times and our days were spent dealing with constant parker traffic and day to day responsibilities. Now, many of us are working remotely and traffic is replaced with toddlers, and parkers are replaced with Peppa Pig. While working in a new context and a new environment, this may actually be a perfect time to think about how things could be different while you are in a new frame of mind.
Put on your Artists Cap
As the sunlight spans across the spaces once usually packed with cars, what we are now left with is a blank parking canvass ready to be whipped into a new masterpiece of parking glory. Are the garbage cans in the right location? Is the way-finding material up to date and relevant? Are there common areas that could be rearranged to better allow for social distancing? With hope, this may be the only time where you can have unfettered access to your busiest parking areas for a few weeks to create a unique atmosphere to make the experience better for your key patrons.
Hit the books
With the rapid adoption of data gathering tools and business intelligence platforms across the parking industry, now, more than ever before, parking operators and owners are using daily, weekly and monthly metrics to track performance. With these shorter term data points rendered essentially useless for the next little while, a focus on historical analysis is a great way to identify longer term trends in your parking asset to better plan for the future. A quick and easy starting area may be to take a deeper dive into your historical monthly oversell % and see what major trends or key events occurred in the past, and use that to simulate potential future scenarios. Which tenants are likely to stay or leave? How is competitor pricing in my neighborhood going to be impacted? If you think it will impact pricing, now may be the time to create the public communication plan and set up your equipment to handle any rate changes.
Since the widespread adoption of car sharing, many private and public parking managers have been brilliantly converting unused parking spaces into new revenue generating assets. Ghost kitchens, mobility hubs, drone delivery bases – all represent innovative new ways which parking square footage is being converted. However, most of these new services typically rely on a denser population to serve efficiently from. If there is a 30 min drive to deliver the food, the local, fast and fresh value propositions may not be easily supported. Using occupancy data can help determine impact on parking utilisation, to potentially even approach local councils to reduce parking requirements and redevelop unused parking territory.
Is it time to sell?
Fact is, while the main economy is being hit hard, investment firms are still sitting on capital that needs to be deployed into assets and their employees are still actively looking to make deals. While the prices will have come down from peak periods weeks ago, if the asset was performing well over the past few years with stronger anchoring tenants likely to come out of the storm, your financials should still look rock solid to hopefully maximize price. Other creative means could be looking to sell air rights over surface parking lots, where allowed, to make way for residential or mixed use development over the parking areas. In some municipalities, the city has sold development rights for building residential and mixed use facilities on the surface parking areas, while retaining the rights to the parking underneath the building. This way they can provide safe and affordable parking to local residents and visitors while ensuring a stream of sustainable long term revenues.
Stay Safe. Stay Apart. Stay Connected.