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Curb Appeal…without The Curb

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Enhancing the Appeal of Parking

One of the bedrock drivers of the real estate market is that attractive properties can command higher rents. That’s why everyone from local residential agents to the largest operators of urban office towers goes out of their way to put a shine on their buildings. From granite countertops to manicured hedges, property owners spend billions of dollars every year just to make them look nicer and stand out from the pack. This isn’t just an above-ground phenomenon. Savvy owners of large parking garages know that they need every possible advantage to increase the number of drivers who park there.

The good news is that there are a few tried-and-true approaches to making garages desirable places to park. And while location and price will always be the top factors in consumer choice, there are other ways – some of which are quite inexpensive – to increase occupancy rates for commercial parking operations.

Enhancing Garage Appeal

One of the easiest ways to make a garage more desirable is to install proper signage. Is finding a spot straightforward and is it easy to enter and exit the facility? All of us have had the misfortune of being lost in underground mazes, only to pop up somewhere completely unexpected. This is especially true of larger garages that have multiple entrances. Wayfinding isn’t just a luxury: it’s a necessity. Clearly displayed directional, exit, and entrance signs, as well as controlled access that is functioning properly are essential.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of security inside the garage and around its perimeter. People simply won’t park in a space that feels like it could be dangerous. One of the best ways to increase customer safety is through proper lighting. A dark and dingy garage is just not going to feel as safe as a well-lit one. While replacing an entire lighting system can be prohibitively expensive, installing LED lights in dark corners can go a long way to making a garage feel more welcoming.

Elevating Customer Experience

Cleanliness is also a huge issue. No one wants to park in a garage that has foul odors, or piles of garbage on the ground. It can be difficult to keep garages clean, obviously, but improving sanitation, including repainting and ensuring drainage systems are working efficiently, can play a large role in creating a better customer experience. This also ties into the upkeep of the facility itself. If ventilation is a serious issue, it may be worth looking at ways to upgrade HVAC to get fresh air to parking areas and remove stale air.

The physical space of any garage is critical, but just as important is user experience. No one wants to wait in long lines to get in or out of a garage. Parkers don’t want to worry about losing a card or ticket. People don’t like digging through their wallets to look for credit cards and fobs as other drivers wait impatiently behind them. It should all just be a seamless experience. The good news is that modern technologies have made all of these inconveniences optional, rather than mandatory. Simply put, parking doesn’t need to be a pain in the neck.

Operational Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction

Making all these changes is good for the bottom line because it creates a better experience for parkers, which in turn attracts new customers. But they’re also good from an operational standpoint because the new technologies that make the user experience better also make it easier for property managers to manage the administrative aspects of maintaining parking garages. That’s especially important now during the pandemic, as parking rates fluctuate based on local virus conditions and safety guidelines.

There’s no single magic wand that will give all property owners 100 percent occupancy of their parking spaces. But by making sure their garage is friendlier and cleaner, they can quickly get a reputation for being the facility of choice. And by implementing technology to improve backend operations, property managers can focus less on administrative tasks related to parking and dedicate more time to finding ways to increase their revenues.

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