Location, location, location

While American, Australian and New Zealander realtors often include the most gushing phrases in their house specifications – “check out this delight”… “in the dress circle…” “you’ll love to call this place home” – and so on – their British counterparts are usually far more reserved.

Apart from being over keen on the word “stunning” to describe virtually every positive attribute of a property they’re trying to sell, the Great British estate agent is far more comfortable with humdrum language.  It’s a land of “well kept properties”, “generous lounges” and “ground floor WCs” – as if this is a key selling point – you might not like the house, but you can always nip to the restroom should you need to.

The classic piece of estate agent speak here in the UK is of course “deceptively spacious”.  Used on virtually every specification, what they mean is “bigger than it might first appear”.  While this is, in all senses, a backhanded compliment, what most house hunters take from these two words is “perhaps not quite as cramped as your senses are telling you.”

When you’re on the lookout for new business premises, it’s quite easy to remember the times you’ve been seeking a place to live.  After all, many of the same criteria apply to both, and after all, most of us do spend a lot of time at work.  Is it big enough?  Will it accommodate our growth?  What’s it like inside?  Do we need to change it around? Is it in the right place?  Is it at the right price?

All these thoughts went through our heads a few months ago when we were seeking to relocate our operational facility to better serve our clients across the UK.

While our head office remains north of the border in Perth, our new operational hub had to consolidate our key functions in one place.  Our engineering, operations, maintenance, field support, training, and sales teams would be based there. It also needed to be sufficiently large to accommodate our equipment and parts stores to enable us to make further improvements to our levels of customer service efficiency.

After careful deliberation, we came across premises on the Elmdon Trading Estate at Marsden Green, to the south east of Birmingham.  Admittedly, it didn’t sound like a particularly prepossessing address, but when we checked the map, we realised that we were two minutes from Birmingham International Airport, the BIA railway station on the West Coast mainline between London and Glasgow, and the national motorway network.  The NEC would be on our doorstep, and the delights of central Birmingham a short taxi ride away.  That ticked the location box.

Once we got inside, we realised we could dispense with any thoughts associated with “deceptively spacious”.  This place is “absolutely huge”  – and, while being within the budgets we’d set for the project, offered us the administrative and logistical space, while still leaving lots to spare.

After we’d made the decision that Marsden Green would be the new home for our UK operations, and we’d completed the fit-out to ensure our engineering, operations, maintenance, field support, training, and sales teams all had high quality amenities, our thoughts then turned to how we were going to use some of the extensive space at Elmdon to showcase our technology and service innovations.

Our plan is to create a virtual car park within the unused part of our facilities so that we can demonstrate to customers how Smart Parking’s solutions work and how our innovations can make the car parking experience even better.

Over the next few months, we’ll be equipping this space with all our current hardware – including the latest version of our RFID-equipped, low profile SmartEye sensors, our SmartGuide and Pay & Walk technology and our SmartPark on-street space finding solutions – as well as using the space to test new ideas that we think will be part of solving parking challenges in the years ahead.

It’s going to be a lot of fun, because it means we get to use the kit our clients work with every day, and we can ask – and answer – all the “what if we did?” kind of questions and see where it takes us.

We’re really getting to love our new home, and if you’re welcome to visit us to take the tour!