Survey Results Show Design, Security as Key Owner Concerns
n an effort to improve our editorial coverage, as well as to ensure that we offer timely and informative sessions at our next conference -- to be held Sept. 27-29, 2005, in Baltimore - Parking Today magazine recently partnered with Structural Group -- a national provider of concrete repair and strengthening services -- in an industry-wide survey of parking professionals.
With more than 750 unique respondents to the online survey, John Van Horn, Editor of Parking Today, said the information gained validates many of the trends and themes he has seen in recent years.
"We strongly believe that the marketplace has
transformed during the last couple of years with all the changes in security, public vs. private ownership, building materials and more," said Van Horn. "This survey validated these trends, and we will respond accordingly with information in our magazine and at the conference to help you in your day-to-day functions, especially with regards to maintenance."
Brian Gallagher, Director of Marketing for Structural Group, concurred, saying that an increasing number of property owners are becoming aware of the condition of their parking structures and of the potential impact that deterioration may have over time. As such, understanding the maintenance, repair and new construction habits of the marketplace is crucial to the long-term strength of the parking industry.
"The unmistakable symptoms of corrosion are easily recognizable, but the root cause of the problem must be addressed to ensure the long-term value of today's structures," said Gallagher. "However, we also recognize the importance of understanding the greater forces influencing the industry in terms of decision-making, budgets and philosophies as related to the design, construction, repair and maintenance of today's facilities. This survey will serve the industry for years to come."
Survey topics included major factors and areas of concern with regard to the design/construction of new parking facilities, as well as maintenance and repair for existing facilities; trends in design; construction and/or renovation of parking facilities; complaints received about the condition of parking structure(s); preventive maintenance plans and budgets; facility life expectancy; driving forces in selecting a structural system; inspection budget and habits; and maintenance dollars as related to operating budget and overall revenue.
Key findings in the survey include:
Facility Maintenance Is Part of Your Job: 47 percent of respondents are in a facility maintenance role; 24 percent have responsibility in hiring design consultants; 34 percent are involved in contractor selection; and 27 percent handle construction management and oversight.
(It should be noted that
percentages may equal more than 100% as respondents could check more than one box).
Durability Is Key for New Construction: Regarding the design and construction of new facilities, respondents ranked durability as most important, followed by security, access, first cost and lifetime cost as their greatest concerns. Schedule, aesthetics and construction materials ranked as low priorities.
Safety Is Key for Maintenance: Regarding maintenance of existing facilities, respondents ranked safety as the No. 1 priority, followed by lighting, deteriorating concrete and lack of a maintenance budget.
Lighting Is Nagging Complaint: The most numerous complaints about the condition of respondents' parking structures were, in order of frequency, poor lighting, access and poor signage. Of least importance were deteriorating concrete, a dated appearance and length of time at the exit.
It Pays to Plan: More than half -- 54 percent -- of respondents operate with a preventive maintenance plan and budget, while 46 percent deal with maintenance issues as they surface. For those performing regular maintenance, 55 percent of respondents expect their facility to last more than 25 years; 17 percent expect a lifetime of 20-25 years; and 15 percent are hoping for 16-20 years. About 10 percent expect to get a mere 10-15 years from their structures, while 4 percent expect between five and nine years.
I Read It Somewhere: Almost 69 percent of respondents said they received their information about the latest construction products and techniques from trade magazines, 38 percent from conferences, 34 percent from an engineer, 24 percent from an architect, and 8 percent from other sources. Of those readers in the group, 97 percent read Parking Today on a regular basis! With regard to information about maintenance, 58 percent rely on architects, engineers and/or consultants, while about 30 percent gain information from industry associations. (In the interest of full disclosure, 100% of the readers were from Parking Today's e-mail list.)
Monumental Decisions: Although 56 percent of respondents stated they have no involvement in selecting a structural system, those involved in the decision cite cost, durability of materials and recommendation of the consultant as the key factors.
Regular Inspections Are the Norm: Almost 45 percent of respondents stated that they engage in regular facility inspections twice a year, while 40 percent inspect on a yearly basis, and 5 percent do so every other year.
The Dollars: About 35 percent of maintenance dollars are spent on annual maintenance, 33 percent goes to preventive maintenance and inspection, and 32 percent to reactive repairs. In terms of general maintenance and repair, dollars are being allocated in order of money spent for lighting, painting, signage, safety and waterproofing. Only 7 percent of maintenance dollars is spent on architectural enhancements. Although the average amount spent on maintenance is 49 percent of respondents' total operating budgets, it accounts for only 14 percent of total revenue expenditures.
Respondents See Security as No. 1 Issue
Respondents to the survey overwhelmingly saw garage security as the No. 1 issue in parking trends in the next five years. Technology ranked a close second. When given the ability to comment directly, respondents said that the security of garages was of major concern and that money would be spent in that area.
Technology and the resulting reduction in staff came in a close second. In many cases respondents commented on both. Typical of the comments:
* Security and equipment upgrade. Lighting improvements. Appearance improvements.
* We will see more parking structures with high-tech security systems.
* Influx of residential units in our downtown area make security in our garages at night a higher priority. Sensitivity of local government in terms of garage design.
* Safety and security upgrades, such as further development of more expansive CCTV systems & better lighting, is the going trend. Continued growth in the technology area. Staff reduction and more reliance on equipment to deliver the daily product to the consumer.
* Personal security, ease of access, high growth rate of educational facilities' population, regional public transit expansion.
* Adding POF to operations and security.
* I manage an airport, so I'd say, first, security upgrades and, second, staff reduction through technology.
* Ease of access balanced with security needs and the ability to control future maintenance costs.
* Extended hours of operation (24/7) as new facilities are supporting residential and
entertainment business in downtown. Also, security, lighting, aesthetics.
* Revitalization of old warehouse district to CBD and providing infrastructure. Connectivity w/current core CBD decks. Overall in the industry: aesthetic design, security and technological innovation.
* We need to put more emphasis on parking facilities to enable patients/visitors to park
safely and securely, while offering proximity to the facility.