Offering customer parking facilities has long been viewed as essential for attracting customers to your business, and especially for retail outlets. Offering free parking is not the end of the story however, because “free” parking comes with a cost to your business and if you are not controlling who is using this service, and especially for how long it is being utilised, then you are failing to optimize the ROI (Return On Investment) for your business.
Curbside parking outside your store is one reason why merchants look to prime retail developments, especially downtown, as the idea is that providing parking space enhances the convenience and opportunity for through-traffic in the store. While this sounds like it must be true from an intuitive perspective, you may be surprised to learn that curbside parking meters were not installed by any city or municipal government, but by a store owner in Oklahoma way back in 1935. He had the idea, correct in this instance, that he needed to ensure there was available parking for customers who were going to actually use the store and not just the parking. Available parking was continuously in use, not by customers to the store but as a point of convenient parking for visiting the downtown area – the benefit to the store owner was negligible if it was of any benefit at all.
Regulating who parks by or on your premises increases store traffic by ensuring you always have available parking. Frequently, this entails charging for parking (which goes against the grain as 99% of parking is currently free in the US), but it focuses customer activity on your store, not the merchant area generally. You can offset the cost to the customer by refunding the parking charge against in-store purchases, which will not deter genuine shoppers using your business. Another technique is to ration the amount of parking time that the available space may be used – there is little benefit to your business of a free space being used by a downtown commuter for the bulk of the day or a shopper intent on convenient parking who never crosses the store threshold.
Parking permit labels and hang-tags are simple to source – online parking permit suppliers can be used to readily find parking permits which are extremely cheap and implement into a controlled parking solution. You do not need to be concerned about spending a great deal of time or money on designing parking permits, labels or tags as many suppliers who specialise in this area, already provide easy-to-use template designs. By combining your business identity and logo onto parking hang tags, you also help to cement your brand name in the minds of the customer.
With parking space regulations, typically designed to control vehicle emissions rather than revenue enhancement, becoming more frequent amongst many city and town agencies, you can combine the parking control policy with your own environmental efforts to reduce your carbon footprint. For over 35 years, parking policy has largely been a dormant topic, however this is now one area where improving business effectiveness and reducing environmental impact are in harmony.
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