Overconfident operators might assume their spaces are full when in fact, they’re not. Here’s how to make the most of your inventory.
Ownership or management of parking inventory comes with three inescapable challenges. Firstly, the constant strive to generate more revenue. Secondly, the pressure to reduce your costs. Thirdly, the demand from your customers for a parking experience that meets or exceeds their service expectations.
Expanding your inventory entails a substantial cash outlay, with no guarantee of return on your investment. Increasing the price of your parking spaces is a sure-fire way to sabotage customer satisfaction. So, to solve our first question, smart property managers are asking -
How is it possible to earn more money from my car park, without increasing prices?
Creating a seamless parking process for the customer and making use of data to fine-tune your marketing strategy are crucial answers to this question. At ParkMaven we understand that parking is a perishable good: each space has a fixed, sunk cost and its value cannot be stored, meaning it’s wasted if not used by a certain time. Just like hotel rooms and aeroplane seats, it’s all about maximising occupancy. Here are four tactics you can try.
- Forget Cash - Go Mobile
Technology is evolving faster than ever, and parking professionals must endeavour to keep up. We’re living in an era of smart parking start-ups (we’re looking at you, Ringgo, JustPark, AppyParking), some of which disappear just as quickly as they burst onto the scene. It’s easy to forget that less than a decade earlier, the majority of car park revenue was collected by cash-fed parking meters.
Now, motorists tired of counting change have largely made the switch to more convenient contactless card and mobile payments. It’s important to offer a parking experience that aligns with an increasingly mobile, tech-reliant lifestyle.
The plethora of payment options can seem baffling to parking managers faced with choosing a provider. Pay attention to broader trends: who was early to market and who’s growing most rapidly? Futureproof yourself: consider which platform can scale with the growth of your own business, which offers the slickest user experience and who will charge you the fairest commission.
- Understand Your Motorists
Knowing your customers is key to providing a product they’ll buy into. The drawback of automated access and anonymous payment is the erasure of an opportunity to make personal contact with the people parking in your spaces. How are we supposed to discover who these people are, how frequently they park, which other locations they visit and what they do after dropping off the car?
Leveraging technology once again can offer parking providers valuable insights into consumer behaviour. If your booking or payment platforms permit, analyse data to discover parking patterns: is your car park drawing regular visitors who’d benefit from monthly deals, or is there an obvious off-peak period which should merit lower prices?
Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, plus customer review websites such as Trustpilot can all gather useful feedback on your service. But parking managers mustn’t underestimate the power of a real person – there’s no way to find out just how much an extortionate price, a location with poor security or a lack of lenience with PCNs like listening to a dozen impassioned telephone rants. In reaction to the mass automation of parking processes, we predict a return to the use of customer service agents.
Beyond adding a personal touch, customer service professionals can solve problems for motorists in real time and have far greater power to unravel the questions that influence your operations. They won’t just learn what niggles the customer, but also why it’s annoying and how the customer believes you could fix it.
- Make Every Customer Feel Valued
Looking to the retail and hospitality industries should provide inspiration to parking professionals seeking to turn begrudging customers into raving fans.
Motorists crave a consistently seamless service, regardless of which reservation and payment methods they choose. In retail, the process of ensuring an integrated customer experience across all possible touchpoints between retailer and consumer is known as omnichannel marketing.
Parking operators should likewise seek to provide a reliably excellent service regardless of whether a customer pays online, via mobile app, through a meter or in person. Similarly, interactions over the phone, on social media and face-to-face are all crucial opportunities to leave a positive impression.
Motorists’ preferences and expectations are not static, though: paying attention to patterns in consumer behaviour and taking on board feedback will equip you with the insights necessary to adapt your best practices. Think of your parking spaces as retail goods and car parks as car hotels. Leverage this attitude to cultivate customer loyalty.
- Embrace the Digital Age
Customers are lazy. Going mobile with parking information, reservation and payment has proven irresistibly convenient. These are simple ways to establish a basic source of revenue from consumers, but more powerful yet is the opportunity to take mobile a step beyond paid parking.
Apps have the capacity to harvest swathes of valuable data about your customers, which you can transform into additional revenue streams. Consider the motorist’s journey beyond a single transaction: data can indicate behaviour patterns which permit you to target relevant marketing campaigns to individuals.
Personalised offers such as discounts on long-term bookings, referral bonuses, loyalty rewards, event promotions can harness extra revenue by persuading customers to part with their cash for products which feel like a bargain.
Information services like Parkopedia or agents such as YourParkingSpace can also help parking operators price their assets attractively: they have access to data about the current parking rates of multiple providers in a given neighbourhood.
Harnessing the power of technology is essential to staying competitive in the parking industry and generating additional revenue in 2018 and beyond.