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By Dan Kupferman and Jon Martens
Facilities Management Article Use Policy
A facility face-lift shouldn't be limited to a parking structure's interior. The more competitive the environment, the more important it is that a parking facility's exterior be clean and attractive.
Many recently developed structures already feature attractive façades. The trend in recent years has been to create garages that complement their surroundings. The traditional gray-banded design has given way to structures featuring facades made of brick, decorative concrete, and other materials that mirror local architecture. For these newer buildings, it may only be necessary to pursue a maintenance program that includes regular cleanings of the façade, particularly around driving and pedestrian entrances and exits.
For older garages, which may have experienced many years of constant use, some restoration may be in order. Owners of older, more traditionally designed garages aren't likely to take on the expense of refurbishing the exterior to give it a more modern appearance. Nonetheless, owners can stabilize areas of the façade that are deteriorating and restore areas that have experienced structural issues. A basic restoration program can enhance even the oldest structure's exterior appearance.
Landscaping can also be an attractive touch for improving a garage's appearance. If a structure's footprint allows, the addition of trees and shrubs can provide a warmer, more inviting environment. Similarly, the addition of artistic screens and other elements to facades can also make parking structures more attractive and appealing.
Finally, signage is a vital element to promoting a garage's brand and differentiating it from the competition. Nevertheless, many parking owners and operators take signage for granted, relying merely on curbside standing signs and basic blue "P" parking signs that merely identify the facility as a parking garage. But signage is a potentially powerful tool for promoting a parking facility. Signage packages should be viewed as branding tools, and they should reflect what is special or unique about a facility. Whether exterior signage is intended to be informative, identifying the structure as a parking facility or directing parkers to open spaces, or decorative, it should be developed strategically with an eye towards attracting parkers.
Profitability tends to be tied to both cutting costs and making a garage more competitive. Costs can be minimized by identifying the most expensive operational elements and adding the necessary equipment and strategies. Likewise, garages can be made more attractive to parkers by adding services and making infrastructure improvements that will appeal to prospective customers. An operational plan that combines these cost-cutting measures and revenue producing strategies can play a vital role in helping owners and operators of parking facilities improve their bottom lines.
Dan Kupferman, CAPP, is director of car park management aystems at Walker Parking Consultants. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jon Martens, AICP, CPP is a parking consultant with Walker Parking Consultants. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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