Up until the recent winter storm that dumped snow and ice on much of the United States, much of the U.S. has experienced back-to-back mild winters with higher-than-average temperatures and little snowfall, which comes with some bad news for parking lots and sidewalks.
During the pandemic, restaurants have also lost over $120 billion in sales, making operating budgets slimmer than ever before. It’s important for restaurant operators to understand how to assess parking lot repairs heading into 2021, especially as outdoor dining in many states will begin again heading into the spring and many restaurants will need to rely on their parking lot space to relaunch it.
Understand What Mild Winters Mean for Your Parking Lot
Fluctuating temperatures are the hardest on pavement because it’s expanding and shrinking with each warm day and freezing night. The repeated freezing and thawing cause more cracks, defects, and potholes than if the temperatures had dropped and consistently stayed below freezing.
Seemingly minor cracks and potholes caused by fluctuating temperatures can quickly grow and cause unsafe conditions for both pedestrians and vehicles, as well as costly repairs later in the year. Monitoring regularly for minor defects to prevent larger potholes and avoiding the use of gravel/stone to fill potholes (it will quickly loosen and spread out the pothole!) are both good tips to minimize repair costs heading into spring.
Self-Audit Your Lot and Define a Baseline for Repairs
Knowing there could be more damage than usual to restaurant parking lots after a couple of mild winters, it’s worth it for restaurant operators to take time to quickly audit their lot for damage before pulling in a contractor to help with repairs.
Understanding the damage that is existing will help paint a better picture for a contractor to provide an estimate, as well as arm restaurant owners with the information they need to have educated conversations about the scope of repairs needed.
When auditing a lot for damage, operators should look for a few common defects that pop up more commonly following mild winters:
- Potholes: Potholes are the most common parking lot problem, and they are aggravated by the colder temperatures and increased precipitation that occur in the winter. Even if the temperature wasn’t consistently very cold or not much snow fell, winter is still hard on the pavement. In fact, what many people may not realize is that the worst kind of weather for pavement is cold nights followed by warmer days. This constant change in temperature causes the asphalt to fluctuate between freezing and thawing, which causes it to move and deteriorate much more quickly, resulting in cracks and potholes.
- Failed catch basins: It’s common for catch basins – the drainage structures that collect water and transport it underground – to fail and need repair in the spring. Whether it’s from the expanding and shrinking that comes with temperature fluctuation and precipitation or they are hit by snowplows, catch basins are often damaged during the winter months.
- Cracks and corrosion: Cracks, small holes, and corrosion have likely gotten worse during the winter months. While these smaller issues may seem harmless, they can deteriorate very quickly once they’ve sprung up, so it’s important to keep a watchful eye and try to repair them before they become a bigger issue. This will help prevent more expensive repairs or a full lot replacement down the road.
When auditing, keep track of how many of each of these issues exist, as well as how extensive the damage is. Once restaurant operators have an idea of the level of damage, and types of repairs that are needed, the next step is to find the right contractor
Do Research to Find Contractors Who Will Help Conserve Budget
It’s no surprise that many restaurant owners will try to cut corners with maintenance and repairs to conserve budget after a tough year, but finding the right contractor for the job will help you get the best repair for your budget.
Choosing the right contractor is more important than ever when times are uncertain and budgets are limited. Here are some mistakes restaurant operators tend make when it comes to choosing and working with parking lot maintenance contractors:
- Getting quotes from too many contractors.
- Choosing a contractor based solely on price.
- Having contractors look at the property to bid the work without meeting with them.
- Not reviewing the parking lot needs prior to meeting with contractors.
- Not being open and honest up-front about what budget looks like.
Find a trusted parking lot maintenance contractor and be up-front with them about what 2021 priorities are, what the budget limitations are, and how the facility’s decision-making process works. An experienced asphalt and concrete contractor can help operators think through what the priorities are, which maintenance work needs to be done this year, as well as what can be put off. If the contractor just seems to be trying to upsell services, find another contractor to consult with. It is critical to find a contractor that is straightforward and is putting the facility’s best interest first.
There are plenty of ways to get creative and conserve budgets for 2021 parking lot repairs. To do so, prepare yourself to have educated conversations with contractors and be open and up-front with them about your priorities and budget. Working with a trusted asphalt and concrete contractor in this way will help provide you the best recommendations to make the most of your parking lot maintenance dollars in 2021.