Parking Lots: Keeping up Appearances

Dan Flaherty, national accounts executive, Ultimat/Crius Corp., ultimat@tds.net

Parking lots serve as the first point of entry for customers and, as such, are an important brand touchpoint. Chain Store Age spoke with Dan Flaherty, national accounts executive, Ultimat/Crius Corp., about how retailers can maintain a positive first impression without breaking the budget.

What, if any, impact does a badly maintained retail property have on customers? Can it affect business?

Studies have proven the negative financial effect of a poorly maintained property. Essentially, you only get one chance to make a first impression. People don’t want to shop at a run-down store or shopping area. This was shown years ago at Times Square in New York City. The city adopted a zero tolerance policy for graffiti, broken windows and litter. At that time, Times Square was a run-down, crime- and drug-ridden area. Numerous boarded-up buildings, strip joints, graffiti and trash all contributed to the overall horrible presentation of the area. Tourists did not want to go — or be — there. After the zero-tolerance policy went into effect and Times Square was cleaned up, it became a huge attraction to the city.

While Times Square is an extreme example, it does apply to parking lots. The parking lot is the company welcome mat, so it needs to look good. We are all shoppers, and I don’t know anyone that goes out of their way to shop at a run-down store. None of these even addresses the potential savings from preventing lawsuits related to accident or injury on the parking lot. Yes, it absolutely pays to maintain the pavement at a high level.

What is the most common mistake retailers make when it comes to taking care of parking lots?

Being reactive instead of proactive is the biggest source of problems with parking lots. Many owners have a wait-and-see approach to pavement problems. By the time a problem is repaired, it has caused extensive damage and is no longer a small problem. 

What are some best practices in preventive pavement maintenance?

The single best practice is to have a maintenance plan and to follow it diligently. This plan should recognize and address small, active and ongoing problems. If a regular system is in place, the probability of a major defect is minimized.

How is Ultimat positioned in the marketplace?

Ultimat is an asphalt resurfacer and is an alternative to traditional methods. It’s a proven alternative to traditional repairs that are often short-lived, unsightly or expensive, and an alternative to the high cost of a mill and overlay.

Asphalt overlays are still necessary in some situations. However, Ultimat provides a solution that in many situations won’t require installing new asphalt. Ultimat is a cost- effective product that helps property owners address pavement needs without breaking the budget.

How can Ultimat help retailers with their paved surfaces?

Ultimat lowers costs and provides long-lasting solutions in lieu of short-lived repairs. This allows the retailer to touch more stores on the same budget. In 2010, a retailer was able to complete nearly 25% of the stores being repaired that year for 10% of the budget using Ultimat. So I say Ultimat can act as a financial alternative as well. It resets the pavement quality and aesthetics. 

How is Ultimat different from competitive processes?

Ultimat is different from traditional processes in several ways. Ultimat is a cold overlay process. It is non-caustic, non-hazardous, nonvolatile, and it requires no additional heat during installation. It is as green as a pavement product can be. It does not soften in hot weather.

Also, it doesn’t oxidize, it remains black throughout its life, promoting increased melting of ice and snow in northern climates. Ultimat is a two-lift installation, utilizing two different custom aggregate loads. This provides a strong, tight surface that can stand up to heavy traffic.

Tell us a little about the company.

Ultimat is a product of the Crius Corp., a manufacturer of asphalt cold overlay and asphalt recycling products. The Crius product line is designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible; our products make use of the existing pavement as much as possible.

Crius also has a unique pavement management system: MyPave enables facilities managers to look closely at their properties, review a comprehensive evaluation and then decide which stores will be moved into the upcoming budget. This allows better decisions to be made regarding more comprehensive projects, such as remove and replace or complete reconstructions. Nearly everyone has asphalt, but only Crius has Ultimat and MyPave.