Q-Park UK -- Car Parks with Charisma --

The word charisma might seem like a contradiction in terms for traditionalists, but for car park operator Q-Park, its the only way to go.

Q-Park Background

Q-Park is an innovative parking organisation that delivers quality to satisfy the wishes and needs of its customers. Q-Park has more than 55 years of experience and is active in the Netherlands (HQ in Maastricht), Belgium, Germany, France, the UK and Ireland.

Q-Park is a top 5 player in the European parking market with car parks in ownership and management. Q-Park has more than 180,000 parking spaces in 6 European countries and 1,600 employees. Q-Park will operate as a customer-oriented, forward-looking, innovative car park organisation that meets the needs and wishes of customers and clients by delivering quality in the form of speed, convenience, safety and service combined with hospitality.

Q-Park will provide a unique level of quality in customer service and in parking products that distinguishes it from its competitors and enhances its international position.

Q-Park UK

Although a relative new-comer to the UK parking industry, Q-Park Ltd was Overall Winner at last year’s British Parking Awards. The company is gaining reputation as one of the leading organisations in the industry, setting high standards and delivering unrivalled quality to the UK parking public.

Making parking a pleasure

qpark2.jpgCar parks are not normally associated with style, comfort or a positive experience - in fact the opposite is generally true. Most users think of them as gloomy, unsightly grey concrete buildings that are fraught with security risks and crammed with tight, unmanageable parking spaces. In sum, a necessary evil rather than a pleasant function of their day. For many operators, this perception is a virtual license to continue building along the same tired lines, with little thought given to introducing changes and scant regard for style and aesthetics.

At the other end of the spectrum is UK car park operator Q-Park - one of a new breed of parking professionals that is determined to give users a much better experience by radically changing the way car parks look and feel. The company’s approach is simple: to construct and refurbish car parks to the highest quality and design standards, provide superb levels of customer service and to make the parking experience a pleasure rather than an ordeal.

Visual appeal

Q-Park’s philosophy is to design new build and refurbished car parks to complement, enhance and even advance the local area. This means paying close attention to both the exterior and the interior, using innovative design and contemporary colours, providing high levels of security that don’t compromise on style, and ensuring fast, convenient entrance and exit.

A prime example of how a car park can look and operate is Q-Park’s Waterloo Street car park - a 10 level, 666-space multi-storey car park in a thriving commercial area of Glasgow at the heart of the city’s financial services district. Re-opened in November 2004, the car park underwent a massive £3.5 million, 13 month refurbishment, transforming it from a bleak 1970s retro building into one that is eye-catching, ultra-stylish and well planned. Uniquely, the car park has been externally clad in 12 kilometres of larch wood specially imported from Siberia, which is layered horizontally around the façade. The exterior of the car park also showcases a sharply detailed stainless steel finish and a striking feature window. This remarkable exterior is proving to be a big hit with both customers and construction professionals.
Q-Park worked with Glasgow architect firm MCM, and according to MCM Director Alasdair Cruickshank “The whole idea of the design was to reinforce the context of that side of the city. When we went to the planners originally, they were initially cautious because it was so bold, but when we explained that the area is made up of all sorts of different types of buildings and that’s what makes it exciting they came on board and were actually very supportive. We’ve since had requests from the planners for photographs of the scheme and have received praise from their design section.”

Internal improvements include re-plastering and re-painting all walls in bright white, boxing in all pipes, cladding all the lift walls and installing durable stainless steel skirtings. Highest quality coating materials were applied to the car parking decks, all the deck floors were re-coated with complementary shades of grey and parking bays are indicated by solid colour fill. The car park columns, walls and ceilings were all re-coated in white to accurately illuminate the space.
This refurbishment has not only improved the Waterloo Street car park itself, but has contributed to the overall enhancement of a growing financial district in the commercial heart of Glasgow.

Customer confidence through consistency

qpark1.jpgApplying a consistent house style to a car park may be an obvious move, however it is one that very few operators seem to adopt, believing that a branded sign is sufficient to do the job. Q-Park’s commitment to a comprehensive house-style is one that makes a huge difference to users and is fundamental to each new build and refurbishment. It sends a clear message of attention to detail and specific and recognisable high standards, giving parkers full confidence in the company’s car park and its services.
Standard house style features are applied to every Q-Park construction and refurbishment, whilst still giving each car park its own individuality.
Typical features include:

- External and internal illuminated name indication
- Parking Host Lodges designed as a highly visible public space housing CCTV monitoring and IT operations
- Ticketing and barrier technology to ensure fast, easy entrance and exit
- Bespoke signage and branded litter bins
- High quality lighting to create a safe, warm feel with no dark areas
- Consistent palette of colours
- Glazed doors in stair and lift areas to increase visibility, safety and security, and to give a contemporary feel
- Fully plastered and painted walls, boxed-in pipes, cladded lift walls and durable stainless steel skirtings
- Bespoke suite of luminaries with white and blue colour, to give stairs a continental appearance, internally and externally
- Highest quality coating materials used on car parking decks
- Parking bays indicated by solid colour fill
- Car park columns are kept to a minimum, and walls and ceilings are painted white to accurately illuminate the space.

Staff showcase

qpark_garedumidi_1.jpgA customer-friendly Parking Host’s Lodge plays a vital role in a modern car park. With this in mind, Q-Park moved the Waterloo Street lodge to ‘front of house’, rebuilding it so that all office and customer reception areas are now glass-sided, keeping staff in constant view.

The lodge has a new control centre with CCTV monitoring and IT operations linked to Q-Park’s new Central Control Centre; customers have a dedicated open-plan area with heating and air-conditioning for interfacing with Q-Park staff; and a new staff welfare area has been included with a kitchen, seating areas and a staff meeting room.

Parking Technology

As well as a new CCTV system, a new barrier and payment system was installed at Waterloo Street to make entry, exit and payment as fast and convenient as possible. Features include:
- Two entry terminals and two exit terminals equipped with credit card facilities, subscriber card and proximity readers, all of which activate the barriers
- Pay on foot machines equipped to accept payment by cash or credit card
- New CCTV cameras installed throughout the car park and centrally connected
- Manual pay station at Parking Host’s Lodge
- 24-hour customer access through node system

Adding Value

Constructing and refurbishing a profitable and highly regarded car park requires thinking that goes beyond traditional limits. Extra services such as bicycle hire, vending machines, smart customer toilets, and public on-screen digital information are just some of the ideas that Q-Park is introducing, with a lot more in the pipeline.

A smartly designed, well-run car park also has unexpected business rewards. Q-Park’s Criterion Place car park in Leeds so impressed the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors that they booked it as the venue for their annual summer ball last year. One of the floors was completely enclosed by ‘star’ cloth, lit by romantic uplighters and kitted with a dance floor, outside caterers set up a mobile kitchen, and an 8-piece band picked up the tempo after dinner.

Looking ahead

Car park operators can no longer afford to be complacent. Customers’ expectations are justifiably rising, and operators that stick with old-style construction and refurbishment ideas will not last the distance. Q-Park’s high design, fit and service standards are a pretty tough act to follow, however it is clearly the only logical direction to go.

Contact and product information

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Official site: www.q-park.co.uk