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22 October 2017
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Managing car parks

A safe, secure and clean car park is essential for supporting staff and creating a lasting positive impression for 
guests and customers, explains Jim Valentine

13 October
Car park management is often taken for granted. But without effective facilities management to implement maintenance regimes and co-ordinate signage and security, car parks can easily fail 
to support business needs and create a poor first impression of 
an organisation.
The latest advances in car park management systems also provide FMs with new opportunities to support wider organisational goals. As many businesses look to mitigate their environmental impact through efficient lighting and green travel plans, car park technology is an effective way of helping to achieve these aims.

Space for improvement

With more organisations looking to rationalise their estates and relocate staff to existing offices, car park management increasingly has a role to play in helping to accommodate more employees and maximise space usage.
Every organisation has different needs. Large organisations with multiple sites need to develop bespoke car park management plans and weigh up the benefits of implementing centralised electronic management systems that can be administered by FM partners.

1⁄  Security

It is estimated that around 20 per cent of all car crime occurs in car parks. Home Office research has shown that car park crime can be reduced by up to 80 per cent by implementing appropriate management practices. If possible, FMs should ensure the layout of the car park maximises natural surveillance of parking areas and pedestrian routes. Organisations need to assess whether to use 
CCTV and permanent on-site security, CCTV on its own, or have regular patrols at set periods.

These decisions need to be measured up against the specific site that is being protected and weighted against the cost to corporate insurance of not using permanent guards. In many car parks, utilising barriers to control vehicular access is a preferable option, but capital costs to retrofit these systems can be high and it is important to factor in ongoing maintenance costs.
Operators of public car parks must also consider whether they issue tickets or clamp cars that have been parked in unauthorised areas. Both are effective, but ticket issuing is substantially less threatening than wheel clamping.

2⁄  Lighting
Ensuring car parks are well-lit is key to ensuring staff and visitors feel safe and is an important element of site security. FMs can support corporate social responsibility goals and cut running costs by looking carefully at lighting specification. Simple options such as changing bulbs from 100w to 50w longlife can deliver this while not affecting output. Similarly, taking out alternate rows of lighting can immediately halve car park energy and life-cycle costs, providing that lux levels necessary for CCTV to work are maintained.

3⁄  Maintenance
Like any asset, maintenance and life cycle management of car parks is key to providing a user-friendly environment and also reducing costly reactive maintenance. Regularly maintaining the road surface and tackling any occurring defects in the surfacing as soon as they appear is important. Equally, it is vital to driver and pedestrian safety that road markings are clear and are regularly repainted.

4⁄  Online booking systems
Implementing an online car park booking system can help FMs to manage car parks, particularly for those organisations where there 
are significantly more employees than spaces.
As more organisations rationalise their estates and relocate staff into existing offices, it is not just a question of desks, but also about understanding the challenges on the car park. The premise behind workspace utilisation is that regardless of whether you have 300 or 3,000 employees at a particular location, you probably don’t need a permanent desk for all of them because it is unlikely that they will all be in the building at the same time. Equally, the same rule can be applied to parking provision. Before choosing and implementing an online system, FMs need to consult widely with employees and undertake research with staff on their day-to-day routines and car park usage. Effective online systems should provide staff with the flexibility to book their car 
park space each day, while helping 
to reduce the number of spaces 
not taken.

5⁄  Green 
travel plans

FMs have an opportunity to align car park management with green travel plans. By researching how people travel to work and their monthly car park needs, it is possible to develop a system that provides parking options, but also makes employees think about their chosen mode of transport.

One way is to get employees to sign up for a series of parking packages and offer incentives to those that do not always use the car. People that travel to work by public transport or bicycle could be rewarded with credits for the staff canteen, for example. Staff who opt for a package whereby they car share with colleagues for two to three days a week could receive a designated space close to the office building.

Those employees who need parking provision for five days a week can park, but must book their space via the online booking system. To support 
this type of programme, there needs to be adequate and secure bicycle facilities, and shower and locker facilities. 

Head of hard services at G4S FM Jim Valentine