Reader Agrees; Carrot Better Than Stick
Editor, Parking Today:
It is with interest that I read JVH’s “Point of View” in the October issue of Parking Today. I would say that our Australian experience has also proven you correct!
Secure Parking has been using the warning philosophy and has had some dramatic results. We have found that taking a more lenient, empathetic attitude may not result in as many infringements, but our aim is to get compliance without antagonizing customers. We, too, have found that the carrot/warning/fairness application has resulted in more parkers following the rules more readily.
As background, Secure Parking has a business division that provides compliance and patrol services to smaller, privately owned carparks, such as shopping centers, business parks, office complexes, etc. This area of the parking industry has frequently had major problems in the manner of issuing infringements and the methodology used in collecting the infringement fees.
Having been in the parking industry for 40 years, and having grown to be the largest parking operator in the Australian community, we were very conscious and concerned that a move into this area of the parking business, if not done with consideration and empathy, could damage the business’ credibility and undo all the effort we put into developing the Secure Parking brand.
Many of the parkers who were abusing the private parking offered by landowners were also often customers of the landowners’ tenants, so we had to ensure that any action we took would recognize that their relationship with their customers was paramount.
After consultation with the client landowners, we have adopted a specific Code of Practice that dictates how we operate in this volatile and sensitive arena. Some of the salient points of our Code are:
“Education – Cl 4.5. When Secure begin to manage/patrol a new carpark, as part of our commitment to education, there will be a reasonable period, not exceeding 2 weeks, when drivers are provided information on the operation of the carpark and possible enforcement activity; during this period, no breach notices will be issued, but advice that enforcement activity will commence in due course may be distributed.”
We have found that this warning phase allows those parkers who are taking advantage of the carpark to relocate with the least angst caused to all parties.
“Fairness - Cl 6.2.3. A breach notice will never be issued in the following circumstances: ... vehicles that have complied with the terms and conditions of the carpark, including the allowance for a 15-minute grace period. ...”
We have found that this grace period indicates to parkers that, although we expect compliance to the terms, we are not predatory and understand that sometimes circumstances arise to delay their return to the vehicle on time – good PR.
“Objective – to guarantee there will always be parking spots for genuine customers whilst ensuring that no genuine customer will be disadvantaged ...”
We waive any infringement that is appealed if it is accompanied with a receipt from a tenant of the carpark in which they received the infringement.
The industry is in a time of change. We as parking operators need to recognize this and develop business models that are consistent with the changes; and recognize that all participants – whether they are parking operators, carpark owners or the parkers themselves – have rights to be considered.
Your warning views were ahead of the times, and our experience certainly backs your view.
NSW/ACT Business Development,
Secure Parking Pty Ltd.,
North Sydney, Australia