How one FPI property manager increased parking revenue and caught unauthorized occupants.
From the time she started at Club Palisades, property manager Shauna McAllister dealt with the challenges of parking at a large community.
Club Palisades is a 750 unit, garden-style community located 20 miles South of Seattle, conveniently located near shopping, restaurants, and a park n’ ride. The community offers one, two, and three-bedroom apartment homes. Residents enjoy luxury amenities including three pools, a fitness center, a private movie theater, and package lockers. But parking was frustrating for both residents and staff.
Even with the help of onsite staff and third-party patrol, there still wasn’t a good system for tracking vehicles, and tows were frequent. Residents complained regularly about cars that didn’t belong taking up valuable space. Many people also parked illegally in fire lanes, double-parked, or parked in the grass. “We’re such a big property that people treat it like a park & ride,” said Shauna.
Secure resident parking is the 2nd most desired community amenity. — NMHC/Kingsley, 2017 Apartment Renter Preferences Report
Too Much Time Spent on Parking
Shauna’s team spent a lot of time and energy on managing parking. “It felt like it was never-ending,” she said. While residents had to provide a license plate upon move-in, there was no way to search by a plate number to find an individual in their management software. “You couldn’t take a plate number and look up and see who’s car that was. So it didn’t really help us that much.”
With so many cars, Shauna knew she was dealing with unauthorized tenants. According to a recent study by NMHC/Kingsley, “secure resident parking” is the 2nd most desired community amenity. She explained that 95% of the crime on the property came down to unauthorized occupants, so it was important to be able to identify them.
“95% of the time that we have a crime committed on the property, it ends up being an unauthorized occupant.” — Shauna McAllister
No Way to Track Vehicles
The previous property manager had ordered generic stickers to be distributed, but Shauna and her regional manager realized that the property was too large to track the stickers accurately in a spreadsheet. If every unit had two cars, that would mean manually tracking 1500 stickers. It was an overwhelming prospect, but Shauna was determined to find a solution.
- Had no system to accurately monitor parking
- People parked illegally (fire lane, double-parked, parked in grass)
- Too many cars without a way to track who they belonged to
- Unauthorized occupants
- Couldn’t search by license plate in management software
- Used spreadsheets to try to track resident stickers
- Property crimes committed by unauthorized tenants
While attending the WMFHA EdCon, Shauna met the team from Parking Boss. After talking with co-founder Joel DuChesne, she brought her regional manager back to learn more. “I was like, ‘you have to see this product. We can make this work somehow,’” she said.
They pitched the plan to their ownership. Parking Boss worked with Shauna to create a plan for guest and resident parking, signage, and decals. She created a process for communicating the changes to residents via printed notices and email blasts.
“I was like, ‘You have to see this product. We can make this work somehow.’” — Shauna McAllister
A Revenue-Neutral Plan
Ownership was concerned about the cost of rolling out a new parking system. They approved the Permit Fee Plan provided by Parking Boss, which included signage, unlimited Smart Decals, and training, with no setup cost.
The community would only be charged a one-time fee for each activated decal, and Shauna would charge each resident a fee of $50 per decal, which meant the plan was revenue generating. The money made on the permits would help the community fund their security services.
Additionally, Shauna would be installing a new gate and fob system for increased security, including LPR cameras at the gate to pinpoint the date, time, and which apartment let vehicles in.
“We want happy residents,” said Shauna. While there was some pushback from residents (mainly those with too many cars), many residents were grateful for the new system. Residents told Shauna, “I’m glad you’re doing this because my neighbor takes up all of my parking.”
“I’m glad you’re doing this because my neighbor takes up all of my parking.” — Club Palisades residents
Increased Parking Revenue
Shauna quickly saw a boost in carport exposure. Residents who needed additional parking had to rent a carport or garage. Carports went from 70% rented to 100% in the first two weeks the program was active. Residents also had to use their garages for parking instead of storage.
Shauna was also focused on building a sense of community and security by identifying vehicles in the community and tracking vehicles coming in and out. “We can’t change the area around us, but we can do everything we can to change our property,” she said. The Smart Decals made it easy to identify resident vehicles, while the software tracked violations and provided proof for enforcement.
A Digital Platform
Ownership had decided to move their systems to digital processes. Shauna and her team had already transitioned to cloud-based file management and begun digital lease signing. Parking Boss’s cloud-based software aligned with FPI’s paperless ethos and made parking much easier to manage on desktop or mobile devices.
The interactive Smart Decals and Virtual Attendant were also a plus to potential renters. “It becomes a selling feature when we say, ‘you can do everything at the touch of a button,’” said Shauna.
- No setup fee or cost to rollout
- One-time fee per activated decal; cost transferred to residents
- Increased carport revenue in the first month
Resident vehicle tracking:
- Ability to provide residents with fair amount of parking spaces
- Regulate and track resident vehicles
- Helps identify unauthorized tenants through unregistered vehicles
Fair and manageable parking:
- Virtual guest permit registration 24/7 with Safelist
- Easier to manage visiting vendors
- Organized data on parking, violation, and carports
- Easier to give patrol authorization to tow with proof
- Less resident complaints about parking
- Aligns with FPI’s move to digital systems
- Organized data management in one place
- Ability to pull reports on parking data
Having all of the parking data in one place makes it easy for Shauna and her team to enforce. “It's more organized,” she said. “It's structured; it has all the documentation that we need.” Now Shauna can keep track of who's on the property, make parking fair, and increase parking revenue.
“It becomes a selling feature when you can say, ‘You can do everything at the touch of a button.’” — Shauna McAllister