Your new store may be just what the neighborhood needs, but if people can’t easily find a free parking space within a few blocks, you may find it difficult to build up a customer base. Here are a few strategies for overcoming parking issues.
Offer to validate parking. Potential customers might hesitate to pay by the hour to park in a nearby garage or lot. Help them get past that hurdle by offering an hour or two of validated parking to anyone who makes a purchase at your store. It not only is a great incentive for customers to stop in, but also helps support neighboring merchants.
Focus on super-local shoppers. If your shop is located in or near a residential area, aim your marketing efforts at people who live within walking distance. Distribute flyers and postcards offering special deals, and advertise your store in the community’s newspaper.
Put directions and parking details on your website. If you suspect customers will have a problem finding parking, don’t sugarcoat that detail on your website, or they’ll only become frustrated. Instead, list the locations of the nearest public or private lots and their fees. Where applicable, include the details of bus routes that travel to your area.
Lease parking spaces from another business. Does the diner next door have a parking lot that’s empty by the time the kitchen closes at 2 p.m. every day, or is the lot at a nearby bookstore rarely full? Check in with the owners of nearby stores to see if they’ll let you pay a monthly rate to lease some of their spaces for your customers. Make certain to put up signs pointing to the available spaces (and their allocated times), or your neighbor may not stay friendly for long.
Offer valet parking. If you operate a business where customers are likely to stay for a while, such as a restaurant or a spa, and you have access to a parking lot, consider maximizing the potential space by providing valet parking. This offers convenience for your customers, but make sure that you hire staff with proven valet parking experience, because denting a customer’s brand-new BMW is more likely to lose business than generate it.