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When you initially think about good car park management and controlling entry onto your property or land, you’re likely to consider barriers.

They seem like the perfect solution: a gate in front of your car park that stops any unwanted, unauthorised cars from entering.

Or, for those who do enter and use your car park, it should be an effective way to ensure users pay what they owe before they leave.

But rarely do car park barriers work that simply.

Understanding costs for car park barriers

The first thing to remember if you decide to use a barrier for car park management is that it is a type of machinery. It’s got working parts. Working parts can break.

Along with the installation costs for barriers (usually one barrier into the car park and one barrier out – rather than just a single barrier), you also need to consider the maintenance fees. This can vary greatly depending on the type of system you have and its complexity (e.g. card payments at the barrier, tokens, paper tickets etc.)

You’ll most likely pay this maintenance fee monthly, in order to ensure you have round the clock support – in case your car park barriers should break.

And they do break. You’ll know from experience that there’s a good chance a car park you visit will have a barrier that isn’t working correctly.

Car park management when barriers break

If something does go wrong and you don’t pay maintenance fees (or you don’t pay maintenances to a good, reputable company), then you’ll have a problem.

When car park barriers break, you lose all control. Your choices are:

• Leave the barrier closed and prevent anyone using your car park
• Leave the barrier open and allow all unauthorised parking
• Try and get staff to open and close the barrier manually.

None of these options are good. Leaving the barrier either closed or open indefinitely will cause you to lose revenue. You’ll either lose or have to refund the payments made by regular, authorised users of your car park, or you’ll be opening it up to free use by everyone and won’t take any money.

If you manage to staff the barrier manually, you’ll have costs associated with that personnel – either additionally or via lost productivity elsewhere in the business.

The additional management for car parks with barriers

Broken technology or mechanics aren’t the only problems associated with car park barriers.

There are also costs associated with user damage. Cars can and will drive into barriers, usually by reversing into them by mistake, but sometimes intentionally. And when they do, the damage can be very expensive and leave your barrier out of action for several weeks.

That’s more lost revenue.

Even if your barriers work correctly 100% of the time, you’ll probably find there are still general user problems. Because regardless of how much signage you put up, there will inevitably be someone who cannot follow instructions, or use the machine correctly. They will get stuck at the barrier.

When they do, they need help – to either use the machine, or pay correctly, or be let out free of charge. If help doesn’t arrive quickly, the stuck car can quickly cause a backlog of vehicles wanting to leave.

So for effective car park management, you need to have a member of staff monitoring the barriers at all times. They need to be able to respond to a call from the barrier when a car is having difficulties and be able to deal with the problem – not just let the car out without payment, because that could set a precedent for users trying to get away with free usage.

In some instances, businesses with barrier car parks have resorted to staff standing out by the barriers – particularly during peak traffic flows – in order to keep cars moving through the barriers efficiently. But of course, this requires additional staffing resources.

Barrier-free flexibility for car park management

If a car park with barriers holds a one-off event or a special occasion, it can also be very difficult to change settings and procedures and allow some users reduced or free access. It can take a lot of logistical organisation in advance to make this possible.

But this isn’t a flexible solution. It becomes another additional effort to change and improve car park usage.

Good car park management isn’t about putting up barriers. It’s about removing them.

They aren’t needed to secure your car park, prevent unauthorised users and generate revenue. And they can cause you more hassle and more problems.

Instead, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology could be just the solution you need for your car park management.

It:

  • Prevents unauthorised usages
  • Ensures spaces are available for your customers
  • Streamlines payments
  • Reduces staff and admin time
  • Maximises your car park usage.

Replace a car park barrier with ANPR technology and you’ll be improving access in and out of your cark park – whilst still managing usage. You can facilitate all the usual payments and automate charges for those unauthorised or overstaying users.

Want to learn more about removing barriers to improve your car park management? Get in touch here.