Parking is an often overlooked – but undoubtedly essential – service for every brick-and-mortar business. With the right parking control systems, it can be a significant revenue generator, too.
Requirements and regulations are often one of the first considerations for businesses when they start thinking about parking. To acquire a Certificate of Occupancy (CO), physical businesses usually have to offer a certain number per square foot of retail space. But owners should consider going beyond the bare minimum.
Think about how retail giants structure their parking offering: it’s usually a giant lot out front. There’s a reason for this: “By turning the surrounding area into parking spaces, they ensure that customers can— and will—shop as much as they need to,” writes K&E Flatwork LLC.
Having ample, accessible parking can attract prospective customers and instill loyalty in existing ones. Meanwhile, a lack of readily available parking has been proven to deter potential customers.
Let’s explore the importance of parking to modern businesses and how owners can make the most of their spaces.
The Concept of Parking Management for Business Owners
Parking is the first touch point a business has with customers. When that interaction is positive, it starts the customer experience off on a good note. On the other hand, a poor parking experience can make customers frustrated from the onset.
Much like the layout of a space, noise level, or even temperature, parking can make or break the way a customer feels when they’re visiting a business. And it’s likely to determine whether or not they return. In fact, 40% of drivers say they avoid shops where parking is a challenge.
Similar to space layout, noise level, or even indoor climate control, parking is an integrated portion of the customer experience that can encroach on the quality of the core product or service a business is offering.
Good vs. Bad Parking Management
Everyone has had a bad parking experience. Whether it’s circling the lot for twenty minutes trying to find a space or getting stuck at the kiosk on your way out, these frustrating interactions can ruin an otherwise great experience with a business.
So how do you ensure that customers have a good parking experience?
First, parking should be visible. Customers should be able to clearly identify where to enter the property to park. Signage can direct drivers from the main road and can help them determine which spaces are appropriate to park in. Vacant spaces should be easy to find. If spaces are not visible in plain sight, wayfinding technology like lights and sensors can be introduced to help customers navigate to an open spot.
Next, parking spaces need to be accessible for all kinds of cars and customers. Handicapped spaces are to be located at the front with accommodations for disabled patrons. Learn more about ADA accommodations here.
Finally, a great parking experience is convenient. Whether access is paid or free, the process of entering, navigating to a space, through payment and exit should be hassle-free. Mobile parking reservation apps are a great way to instill confidence in customers before they arrive. With a mobile reservation, the customer knows they’ll have a spot to park and what it will cost. When it comes to entering the facility, if there is an integrated entry system in place, access can be as simple as pressing a button or scanning a code. If customers are using a lot or garage that serves multiple business tenants, having a simple approach to validations via mobile number or credit card can greatly reduce stress at the point of exit.
The Potential Impact that Good Parking Management Can Have on Business Success
Now that we have identified the difference between a good parking offering and a bad one, let’s take a look at how good parking can directly impact a business’ bottom line.
There are two main ways parking can impact the bottom line. First, forgone revenue from a poor parking situation. When customers can’t find a place to park or the parking situation is too much of a hassle, they often just choose another business to support.
Cameren Keng, an expert on tax and business, looks at the quantitative impact of parking through the lens of a theoretical restaurant scenario. He concludes that “Failing to take parking into consideration would’ve cost the restaurant a minimum of $29,200 dollars in revenue or 40% of their annual revenue.”
The second way parking can impact the bottom line is through an additional source of revenue. Charging for parking can be a small, incremental increase to normal revenue. Even if you choose to offer validations for customers, charging for parking offers you the additional opportunity to source revenue from patrons of nearby businesses.
Utilizing Parking Management Software to Improve Parking Availability and Management
Parking considerations can be a daunting task. That’s why parking management software is such a great tool for businesses that offer parking as an amenity for customers. With the right technology solution, you can “set it and forget it,” meaning the system does all the work while you focus on the core of your business.
How can a parking management software help businesses create better customer experience and impact the bottom line?
Efficiency: Parking should be as easy for you to manage as it is for your customers to interact with. The right system will be efficient, require minimal intervention, and have mobile management capabilities so you can stay focused on what truly matters.
Effectiveness: Technology brings precision to the process of managing access and revenue. But beware: some parking management technology providers structure their entire business model on hardware and software that are prone to break and expensive to fix. Look for solutions with fewer moving parts, reliable software, and a maintenance program that’s transparent and affordable so you can enjoy minimal expenses and maximum uptime.
Automation: Today’s consumers are used to automated systems that utilize mobile integrations, touchless technology, and make everyday interactions faster. Extend that same, modern experience to the garage or lot with technology like Bluetooth access, advance mobile reservations, and ticketless entry.
Information and data analysis: In today’s world, big data is not just for big business – it’s for everyone. Real-time analytics and business intelligence on your parking can offer insight into occupancy, demand, and price sensitivity that will inform smart business decisions.
Parking is an essential part of our everyday lives. When businesses offer visible, accessible, and convenient parking, their bottom line is directly impacted. Customers can focus on the main product or service being offered and owners have an ancillary source of revenue.
Investing in parking lot management software will boost lot safety, reduce the expense of lot monitoring, and can create a steady revenue source for a business. If you are interested in discovering what benefits the right parking technology solution could bring to your business’ parking offering, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.