Collectively, Americans own 250 million cars, and the United States has up to two billion parking spaces to house them. That’s eight spaces per car — more square footage, by some estimates, than exists for housing our population of 327 million people, and five percent or more of urban area in the Upper Great Lakes region. All that asphalt won’t take care of itself, especially when winter comes and the snow starts to pile up. If you’re a business owner, it’s important to keep your parking lot customer-friendly; after all, it’s not as though those cars and their drivers have nowhere else to go.
Making Your Parking Lot a Welcoming Place
So what can you do to blunt the edge on the average of 17 hours per year your customers spend looking for parking?
- Plan carefully, since the location and layout of your parking lot and the traffic patterns that result, can make a big difference in customer experience; if you’re having your parking lot rebuilt or resurfaced, consider using the opportunity for a smarter makeover.
- Prioritize safety, ensuring that the lot and surrounding foot paths are well-lit, and also consider security cameras to monitor the area; these simple steps have a deterrent effect on thieves and help customers feel safer.
- Pay attention to small details, such as installing a cart corral if your business uses carts to prevent damage to vehicles, and ensuring that obstructions like dumpsters are kept in areas they won’t interfere with parking.
- Build-in designated spaces for motorcycles and compact vehicles, set aside space for the handicapped, and those who are pregnant or have small children.
- Don’t neglect your lot; parking lot snow and ice management and diligent maintenance year-round goes a long way.
Thinking Ahead: Parking as a Service?
We’ve already got SaaS (Software as a Service). Might PaaS, or Parking as a Service, be next? At least one author thinks so, and sees the opportunity to capitalize on drivers’ (and retailers’, and property managers’) frustrations. While Thomas Hohenacker suggests a suite of sophisticated sensors and IoT-connected LED screens to display available parking spaces (and advertising, of course), most small business owners don’t have the kind of cash, space, or need for a solution that robust. That doesn’t mean that Hohenacker’s solution is without merit; for businesses and service providers with larger parking lots, times of inclement weather can be a good time to provide a human touch to parking. If your lot is large — and especially if it’s shared by multiple tenants — it may be worth your while to consider valet parking. It cuts down on driver frustration, and can reinforce positive feelings toward your business.
Getting Back to Basics
Maybe you’re hesitant to install new lighting, or undertake some of the other improvements listed here. Maybe you haven’t got the additional payroll to spare on a parking lot attendant. We’re small business owners too, so we understand the challenges you face. With that said, one of the ways you can stretch your limited money the farthest is by paying attention to the fundamentals: parking lot snow and ice removal in the winter, reinforced by parking lot maintenance in the warmer months. HTA Companies can help, just as we’ve done for dozens of businesses in Lansing, Bath, Watertown, and the surrounding areas. Why not get in touch today and see how we can help?