A Few Bad Parkers Spoil the Whole Lot

by Todd Katler

One tug of a loose thread and the whole thing could come unraveled, which aptly frames the challenges many communities face when it comes to parking. Regardless of how many people complain about their reserved spot being inhabited by someone else, the data says the issue is usually caused by only a few people. Yes, you read that right. Just a few of your residents can impact overall resident satisfaction.

On average, 1.7% of your residents are responsible for almost 100% of your towing issues. So, if you have 200 residents in your building, only three or four people are causing all those headaches. Despite their small numbers, they can create bigger — and costlier — problems down the road.

The Surprising Data on Towing

A recent study conducted by Zark Parking Solutions of its clients’ properties across the U.S. reveals that it’s only a few discourteous people who are repeatedly towed for ignoring the rules. The data shows a stunning rate of 8.6 towing incidents per person, which means each was towed about every three weeks.

This data highlights the fact that this issue isn’t caused by people making mistakes. Sure, there are instances where that happens, but it’s commonly caused by people who simply ignore the rules. A good example is a Colorado-based community that had two negative reviews where residents were unhappy with their cars being towed. Their positions were that towing is illegal under Colorado law, which requires 24-hour notice before towing from a residential lot. However, this residential lot is parking by permit only, which is exempt from the law. It’s important to note that their complaints were not about having permits and getting towed, they were over the lack of notice. Both likely knew they weren’t permitted to park, but thought they were protected, so they weren’t concerned.

The Burden Falls on Property Management

In addition to taking time to contact the towing company, onsite teams have their valuable time consumed fielding complaints from the rightfully angry residents. Who wouldn’t be frustrated with coming home from work only to find their spot occupied by a car that isn’t supposed to be there? And if you have residents like the ones from the previous example, you’re going to have to deal with rule-breakers insisting they were wronged.

Your teams have more important things to do than manage the people creating a hassle for your scores of good residents. And those are good residents you could end up losing in the long run, which means your expenses grow.

The Hit to Retention and Reputation

The biggest hit you might see is in revenue and costs. People won’t stay in a community where they’re unable to park in spaces they paid for. You lose revenue while the apartment is turned for the next resident, then your ad spending increases to announce its availability.

Reputation suffers as well. One unhappy resident could easily lead to a lower online rating, which is further affected by the person who was towed, giving you one star out of anger. This requires more ad spending to attract prospects. A situation in which low reputation scores affect retention is not the cycle anyone wants to be in.

Address the Offenders, Save Your Reputation and Sanity

The alternative to stressing about your online reputation is to take steps that will greatly assist in moving your scores up. Mark-Taylor, an Arizona-based multifamily developer and management company, deals exclusively in Class-A properties, so the company relies on excellent ratings to attract new residents. Parking issues were dealing a blow to Mark Taylor’s retention and lead generation, subsequently pushing up costs.

To deal with the problem, Mark-Taylor partnered with a parking solutions platform that helped steer the company on the right path, as well as making it easier to identify and fine repeat offenders and simplify the towing process. This move raised Mark-Taylor’s reputation scores by 44% and saved the company over $4 million in marketing spend, and it brought some needed relief to the leasing team.

Regardless of the path you choose, not addressing the problem is not the correct approach. A few people should not be able to impact the lives of everyone else in the community and they certainly should have the power to drag down your net operating income. 

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