How can understanding your user demographic help guide your parking payment strategy?
A fundamental part of car park optimisation is understanding how different types of motorists are using your facility to ensure your payment plans suit those specific groups. Through considered analysis, the right approach can allow you to maximise your revenue while creating the optimal experience for your target audience. Here, we’ll offer up several scenarios which illustrate different types of car parks and their users to help parking managers shape their payment policy.
Knowing your customers
A parking facility may be used by staff, customers, visitors, and suppliers – being clear on which groups you need to cater to can make a big difference to the provisions your car park should offer. Amidst rising pressure to attract new visitors and manage a continuing squeeze on space, it’s easy to overlook both rates and payment facilities capable of driving (pardon the pun) an experience that is either positive or pretty painful.
Looking beyond the basic need to cover the cost of parking, consider your users in terms of how, when and why they use your facility. Here’s a checklist to help you define a more flexible tariff structure.
- Why are people using your car park? Is it for shopping, commuting, leisure, tourism or even the delivery of products to businesses?
- How long is the parking required for?
- Where is the car park located with regards to what they’re using it for?
- Are customers using it during busy periods, and if so, are there any suitable incentives that may encourage them to visit during quieter periods?
- Who tends to use your facility? How many cars carry young families? Is it used by blue badge holders who may have specific mobility needs once reaching their destination? Perhaps they’re picking up or dropping off large items?
This kind of information can provide the building blocks for your pricing policies to ensure you’re offering the best tariffs to your customers, as well as getting the best out of your own pricing strategy.
Different types of pricing strategy scenarios
Scenario 1 – The Gym
The demographics of a budget gym’s car park tend to be pretty narrow; they’re there to work up a sweat and likely very little else. For the most part, any sort of exercise routine will be governed by a period of time; it could be suggested that the time spent at the gym is unlikely to be over two hours.
Thus, implementing a 2-hour max stay is a good idea, as it ensures a frequent patron turnover throughout the day as customers come and go. The offer of parking could also be included in membership rates or discounted for regular users.
Additionally, the gym may look to increase its revenue by offering pay & display to benefit any member looking to stay longer than two hours. If space isn’t an issue you can rent available capacity to motorists looking for parking nearby, this is especially useful for city centre establishments.
An ethical enforcement approach would benefit the business to manage any unauthorised use. This would deter abuse to ensure space for paying customers – particularly important if space is limited.
Scenario 2 – The Supermarket
In this scenario, parking managers would expect to cater to families, couples, the elderly and those with mobility needs. As a result, things have to be flexible.
Traditionally, supermarkets have a max stay of between 2-3 hours depending on store size and location. Let’s say in this scenario that the car park is located in a busy town centre, so also offers a pay & display option for those wanting to stay on-site longer to browse the local area.
And with such a variety of people using the facilities, it’s likely it’ll be used for things other than grocery shopping. By employing a pay & display solution, you’ll be taking full advantage of the supermarket’s central location, freeing up customers to venture to other attractions in the vicinity such as restaurants, cinemas and high street shops.
If you’re concerned about genuine customers overstaying the allotted free-stay period, terminals in-store can be used to exempt them from further charges. This ensures that its genuine customers are the only people who avoid paying for parking.
If your parking solution is powered by ANPR technology, why not go one step further and integrate visitor data with loyalty services. Motorists register once for the service and receive notifications of live offers once they enter a participating site. Alternatively, the driver can actively search for a specific location without even leaving the sofa, prior to travelling. Promotions can be redeemed in numerous ways, from showing a QR code at the till point to presenting a voucher on their phone. This service not only encourages repeat visits to store but can ‘win-back’ custom from competitors and drive till transactions across product lines.
Scenario 3 – Education
In certain high-profile locations, it’s possible for school car parks to monetise their sites with pay & display, during evenings, weekends and holidays when the facilities aren’t being used by students and staff.
During core hours, this obviously won’t take place. Staff can be added to a whitelist, so they avoid incurring charges out of hours. Lots of educational facilities will close their car park when it’s out of hours. However, the ideal location of certain schools, as well as the varying demographics, means that educational facilities can capitalise on a real opportunity to maximise revenue when out of school hours.
Similarly, Universities may open out their facilities outside term-time to generate new revenue streams which can be reinvested, in the same way, student accommodation is offered in the holidays.
Sector specific car park management solutions
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