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Thread: Would you be put off by a free customer pay & display car park?

  1. #1

    Default Would you be put off by a free customer pay & display car park?

    Weird question but I'm considering installing in my car park an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) ticketing system. Basically we have a ludicrously big car park that is entirely our site, over 300 car parking spaces. We don't need that many, even when the bar and restaurant are both busy not everyone drives, and 300 cars is far more than we'd ever need. Surrounding us are lots of office blocks that have limited parking so we also get a lot of cars from there parking on the ground. I've never been too bothered about that because we have ample space. Some have called up in the past and offered to pay for spaces but I've always said don't worry about it. Additionally we're in a scenic location and a lot of people park up to go for a walk or take their dogs for a walk etc (we even allow dogs inside).

    However the problem is that we get a lot of litter which needs clearing daily with people pulling in and eating McDonald's from the nearby Drive-Thru and chucking it on the floor. The other problem is I have reason to believe drug dealers are using the car park at strange hours and although they've never come into the building it is trouble I just don't need or want. I live on site and its creepy.

    A few days ago an incompetent delivery driver delivered stock that was meant for us to a rival restaurant nearby whose name coincidentally rhymes with our own, I went over to pick it up after they called and they've recently installed a new ANPR system which requires customers to enter their reg plate on arrival for 5 hours free parking. They did that because their car park is much smaller and office workers were taking up their spaces previously. Anyone who drives on and off the car park without entering the reg plate onto a tablet in the building (except liveried vehicles or people whose reg plate is whitelisted) gets a £100 fine, reduced to £60 if paid in 14 days. The company behind the scheme pay to install, maintain and run the scheme with no cost to the business, they run on the basis that people will get ticketed which is worth the amount of investment in technology.

    So I've called to make enquiries to combat the abuse but then a few other reasons to go ahead I hadn't thought of have come up. One is that we could sell permits to the nearby offices. Another is that as its our private land, we are liable for any wear and tear on the car park. If it were to need retarmacing then a car park that size could cost £100,000 plus. If the wear and tear is being caused by customers then fair enough but if it is caused by essentially free-loaders not contributing to our business then that's not good. Finally another option is to put payment boxes up allowing people to pay to use the car park if they're neither a customer nor have a permit, this won't cost me a penny but would be done on a profit-share basis with the company concerned.

    This car park's been free for 30 years and I don't want that to change for my customers. We could give 24-hour free parking for anyone who enters their reg plate in the building (so people can leave cars overnight if they've been drinking). If it gets rid of trouble (drugs and litter) great, if its a side revenue earner then that could be a nice bonus. What I don't want though is to put off any customers. Have people decide not to come because they worry about getting ticketed (even though its free) or don't want to enter their reg plate every time. On the other hand if the only way to get free parking is to be a customer that could attract people. I don't know.

    Long message sorry but I hope I've explained it properly. What do you think? Would you be put off or upset if somewhere you go to put in a system like this? Even if you could still get free parking? The other company would pay for signage saying the rules and banners by the entrance saying Free Parking for our Customers.

    PS although its called pay and display still there's nothing to display, the whole system is digital and operates based on cameras recognising number plates and customers entering that either in the building or when paying at the box, or me whitelisting their reg plate. No traffic warden issuing tickets its automatically done.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  2. #2
    Seems like a perfectly reasonable solution. Depending on how much this relies on the tech skills of the customers, you should probably make sure there are workers to help anyone who can't figure out what to do for the first month or so.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  3. #3
    Yeah that's definitely going to be necessary I agree.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  4. #4
    You might want to rethink how you plan to approach your neighbors about this. You are being very lenient with the hours, so putting extra work on them by trying to sell permits (I'm assuming tied to individual tags) could eventually lead to souring relations as they continue to park without permits. I would approach the businesses directly and explain your reasoning for installing the devices, and that the lot does have a maintenance cost that you are footing. See if you could get a general monthly or yearly usage payment out of the businesses to avoid having to do individual permits and such. Something that feels like a bargain so it stings a little less that you're going back on your word, and so they pay it to avoid the headache of extra work and employees bitching about the devices.

    Of course thats assuming these offices are under only a handful of businesses.

    I'd also go over that contract with a lawyer, a lot of setups like this start free but move you to a subscription later, or bill you if it doesn't bring in enough revenue.

    but jesus, 300 spots? The new 35,000 sq/ft library I'm involved with tops out at 125 spots
    "In a field where an overlooked bug could cost millions, you want people who will speak their minds, even if they’re sometimes obnoxious about it."

  5. #5
    Could you sell reserved parking spots to the offices? I'm guessing that the best spots for your patrons are different than the best spots for the office workers. If that's true, selling them reserved spots would make it seem more like they're buying something new rather than suddenly paying for something they're used to getting for free. You can probably talk to a sign maker in advance to see how much it'd cost to install reserved signs emblazoned with the company's logos.

    When you approach them, I'd suggest having several options available and prepared in advance. Different sets of spots you're willing to sell them, options for how they'll be marked (plain signs, signs with their logo, lots painted with their logo). Make sure the most expensive option is overpriced to make the other options look more appealing, and to let them negotiate it down if they really want it so they can feel like they out-haggled you.

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