NCP launches management solutions team to target “retail and leisure free” parking markets

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NCP has launched a management solutions team to target retail and leisure non-chargeable parking markets in a bid to challenge the incumbent – largely ANPR-based – service providers.

The new offer combines NCP’s existing expertise in paid parking solutions and takes the UK’s largest operator into a new category for the brand.

The new business unit within NCP’s existing infrastructure will take an offer to landlords, management companies, retail park and shopping centre owners, as well as leisure businesses, as NCP expands the range of its offer.

The launch comes on the back of research by NCP that shows how commercially vital the parking offer is for retail parks, retailers with large parking estates and leisure attractions.

Over half (52%) of all motorists have visited a particular destination because they know the parking rules are clear.

Meanwhile the research also showed retailers could be losing customers because of fear of receiving a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) amongst consumers.

Four in ten (40%) people say they have avoided retail sites where parking rules are unclear or confusing or where they risk a PCN. Furthermore, just over a quarter (26%) of shoppers admit they have postponed or cancelled a trip to a retail park because of a concern they will incur a PCN there.

Three quarters (73%) of motorists believe there should be some leeway concerning PCN’s if someone has made a genuine mistake, while a similar proportion (76%) think that if they enter a retail or leisure attraction car park by mistake and leave within a short amount of time, they should not be charged.

To cater to property owners concerned by these factors, NCP has developed a bespoke approach termed ‘considerate enforcement’. The system – which combines technologies including ANPR with a dedicated team based in NCP’s Manchester operation – puts clients’ customer relationships at its heart.

Before Parking Charge Notices are issued to motorists, each potential contravention is thoroughly reviewed and a sequence of manual checks are conducted by the in-house team to ensure that notices are issued correctly, rather than relying almost entirely on technology which operates in black and white. NCP believes that this approach will go a long way in improving the customer experience and thus their opinion of the venue in question, and have economic benefits by lowering the volume of contested PCNs.

Max Crane-Robinson, Commercial Director at NCP says: “In the wake of the reports of a number of issues at parking operators where behaviour of frontline staff and of senior management has been found – at best – questionable and rightly resulting in their loss access to the DVLA, we need to take a look at the model itself, rather than believe that the behaviour of a few unscrupulous staff members is the cause of the issues.

“We believe by combining human intervention with technology-based solutions, we can deliver a superior service that attracts those who want to park and enjoy a retail or leisure destination, while effectively managing those who transgress.

“Clear communication is the key to this – ensuring that customers understand the rules while considerate enforcement is vital to ensure customer relationships are maintained. While those who flout the rules should be penalised, those who make honest errors should not be caught in the same net.”

NCP research has found that two in every five consumers (42%) would contest a PCN and over a quarter (27%) of people admitted that they would contest it even if they knew they had broken the rules.

Max Crane-Robinson concludes: “Almost two thirds of consumers say they would be unlikely to return to a Retail Park or Shopping Centre where they had previously been served a PCN. However, Parking Charge Notices are an integral part of parking, serving to protect both paying customers and any business associated with the car park from those who actively seek to abuse the service provided.

“As such, it is the way enforcement is carried out that is vital, balancing the need for correctly issued PCNs with the understanding of the repercussions of poor or cavalier enforcement, or challenging communication between the customer and the company that issued the PCN.

“Our belief is that enabling a customer’s case to be heard and reviewed is of utmost importance. That is why we have a specific PCN appeals service with a dedicated team behind it to provide honest, sensible communication with the customer around the review process and the final decision made.

“Eliminating communication barriers is pivotal to our approach of ‘considerate enforcement’ and has brought significant benefits to both our customers, with fewer than ever requesting to use our additional appeal service managed by Ombudsman Services, as well as for our business in the longer term.”