A survey by Parkatmyhouse found that the average motorist wastes more than 2,500 hours driving around looking for a parking space over the course of their life. UK-wide meanwhile it is estimated to take almost 7-minutes on average to find a suitable parking space, increasing to 20-minutes if you’re in London.
Observing this, you may have considered starting up your own car park business, to capitalise on the obvious demand, and to help ease the strain of finding a space in your local community. This is entirely plausible, but there are a number of things you need to be aware of when setting out.
Finding a space for your spaces
One of your first tasks is actually locating and purchasing a suitable plot of land for your car park. This will, of course, need to be large enough to accommodate a significant number of vehicles, whilst also being close to local amenities and well connected via the transport network.
In addition to these considerations, depending on the existing use of the land, you will probably also need to apply for planning permission to use it for the purposes of a car park.
You can find out more about planning permission for brownfield and greenfield sites on the official government website.
Whatever type of land you choose to build on, you will probably need to resurface it. It is inadvisable to have cars parking directly on grass as this will quickly turn into a muddy quagmire come winter while brownfield sites will usually need resurfacing to ensure a safe and level surface for parking on.
Car parks rely on a ticketing system to make money. The simplest option is to have someone manning a ticket booth by the entrance throughout the day. The more sophisticated alternative is to install ticket machines.
Once you’ve installed those machines, you will inevitably need to hire staff. Firstly you will need to hire ticket inspectors to check that people are paying for their parking and displaying tickets, secondly, you will need staff who can repair and maintain these machines, though you may be able to outsource this need to a third party.
Car park insurance
Once you’ve got everything else in place you need to think about the types of insurance you’ll need to protect your business, and to fulfil your legal obligations. These are chiefly:
Public liability insurance – You need to protect yourself and your business financially against the possibility of a car park patron being injured or suffering loss or damage to their vehicle.
Premises insurance – Floods, fire, vandalism and other calamities can all cause damage to your car park, and if you’re not insured this could prove very costly indeed. You also want to consider taking out business interruption insurance which will cover any loss of income for periods that the car park is out of action.
Employee liability insurance – If you employ staff to work at your car park, you will be legally required to have employee liability insurance with cover of at least £5million. As well as being mandatory, this will protect you against any claims for compensation made against you by your employees.