Compliance

A single word with the power to instill fear into any business not doing enough to satisfy and ideally, exceed the legal requirements of their industry. No-one wants to be on the wrong side of the law so ensuring your provider is not only compliant themselves but can support you in all aspects of prevailing legislation and regulatory guidance as a business is essential. It might surprise you to learn that today, parking and it’s associated technologies (such as ANPR) can be a complex business and to do it right, ethical providers must be fully equipped to guide you and your business through the regulatory maze, from detailed planning applications and data management to asbestos considerations and legal enforcement.

A great place to start is to ask if company procedures, processes, policies, documentation and car park signage is compliant and fit for purpose. All signage for instance must be fully compliant with BPA guidelines but beware of sector-specific requirements which may also apply – such as providers working within the healthcare sector who must also adhere to further NHS Car Parking Management Guidelines.

The BPA deliver best practice guidelines which their accredited operators should adhere to – for instance, providing BPA compliant signage as a minimum. Certainly, beware of any organisations with BPA ‘Scheme of Sanctions’ points against their operators’ license as this could indicate poor processes or questionable standards and in the worst cases, licenses revoked. Always check your provider holds a valid license and has never been subject to a past withdrawal.

Further to this, parking providers serious about driving industry change and raising standards in a heavily-regulated environment like parking will be involved with key industry bodies. A good place to start is the British Parking Association Council of Representatives and their Operational Service Board, the Public Affairs Board, the Standards Panel, the CCTV Working Group and the DVLA, in particular their Focus Group. Accreditations and alliances such as these provide clients with independent assurances that their partner meets required standards, which may also save a little time in pre-qualification.

If you want to go further, businesses involved with memberships such as the Further Education Parking Charter, Disabled Motoring UK, Contractor Plus, CHAS, NAPIT and NICEIC will always be worthy of your consideration. This demonstrates a deep-rooted commitment to high standards, over and above the norm.

Lastly, no-one could escape the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the 25th May 2018 which replaces the Data Protection Act 1998. You would expect a provider to be fully compliant, not only to protect your business data but the personal data of your users – don’t assume everyone is now where they need to be, despite the passed deadline – always worth a double-check.

Credibility

Not essential but well established and customer-centric organisations will be members of key industry bodies and list accreditations on their websites. Here are a few to look out for:

The British Parking Association (BPA) is a non-profit organisation which actively represents the parking sector by increasing knowledge, standards and professionalism enabling members to provide a better service for motorists. Members of the BPA and their Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) will be regularly audited by both the DVLA and the BPA to ensure they adhere to the very highest standards.

The Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) was launched for BPA members to improve and maintain standards and is designed specifically for those operating parking enforcement services on private land or in unregulated car parks.

Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) is an independent appeals service funded by the parking industry for Parking Charge Notices issued on private land. It was established when the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 introduced the concept of ‘keeper liability’ for vehicles parked on private land.

Park Mark® is a police accreditation managed by the BPA, which recognises excellent levels of safety and security in a car park. A wide range of environmental factors need to be addressed to achieve the covetable Park Mark®. More than just a badge, only sites with top quality management in place can pass the rigorous scoring program.

Referenceability

Everyone talks about word-of-mouth but it really applies here. As with any provider, ask around – get a sense of life through the customer lens rather than any hype created by the marketing team. Really unpick the day-to-day to find out if the service team responds quickly to queries or your customers are treated with respect and understanding. Anyone worth their salt should welcome you talking to other clients and transparent in their working practices.

If you’ve found this article useful but still have questions, we’re here to help – whether you’re a blue-chip household name or a small independent surface site. As the biggest private sector operator of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems, with the largest privately-owned ANPR database in Europe, we’re serious about quality.

If you’d like to talk to us about improving the way you do things, please get in touch.

Alternatively, to browse our case studies, please visit our sector pages.