Every business owner would prefer it if the business was going even better. Even when it’s already good, and especially if it isn’t where you would hope. Parking is no different. Fortunately, new technology has brought about growth methods that can be introduced without risking the existing business.
Tech innovations make it possible to build on top of the current business to increase occupancy rates, and to maximize earnings per customer. What the solutions are for doing exactly that, is what we’re going to talk about in this article. (This is the part where you can scroll down for a rundown of the solutions at hand, or continue reading our thoughts on the subject.)
Parking companies approach drivers from many directions, but there’s lots of room to improve
Advertising for parking is currently done with street signs, in magazines, on Google, Facebook and so on. Fortunes are spent, yet cars still drive around aimlessly trying to find a spot to park in. What’s more, you can never really know the exact ROI of your marketing efforts. Car drivers are not given any real incentive to visit one parking facility over another – most don’t even know the names of different parking companies. Because of this, potential customers drive directly to their destination, and only then start looking for a place to park.
With the right kind of technology, parking businesses can easily get more customers and bring in more revenue from existing customers. To understand exactly how and why, let’s take a look at what technology is currently available.
How does parking differ from other businesses?
In the morning, you open your email on your phone and you see a newsletter from a known retailer, announcing a sale. Around midday when you need to travel to a meeting, you use your phone’s transport app to find a ride, and get a notification offering a discount for a nearby lunch place. After lunch, you use your phone to look for a good working spot with Wi-Fi. After the day’s work is done, you open your phone to see whether there’s a yoga class at your gym. You have a monthly pass, so you can check yourself into the class right away – on your phone.
On the way, a thought crosses your mind: it’s awesome how easy things have nowadays been made for us.
It’s matchday, so in the evening you take your car, and drive to the arena. Once you get close, you start looking for a place to park. Just like so often before, you end up parking in whatever random place, advertised with a sign, that you spot from your car. You nearly miss the game because you have to walk all the way to the arena, and you wonder if there would have been a better place just around the corner – or at least a bit closer to the entrance.
On the way, a thought crosses your mind: why is parking still so hard?
The parking industry isn’t up to date with full business potential
Most industries operate online, and approach their customers from many different angles with different attractive ways for bringing them in. The connection between the business and the consumer works, and the consumer makes a purchase decision because of that.
Although parking companies have working marketing practices, these are mostly based on old-school marketing, and have yet to embrace the new age of technology. Much of the marketing is done on the streets, and of course, it can yield results. But if your competitor has a sign before yours, they’ll naturally get more customers than you. It’s first come first serve, and you can’t reach those drivers through any other channel.
It’s really a no-brainer: your customers want to know where they can park. You want them to park in one of your locations. Yet they continuously end up driving around unable to find a place to park, while you nurture too many empty spaces, and keep losing customers. It’s clear that there’s a gap in interaction that parking professionals have yet to efficiently solve. To put it simply: parking doesn’t have that connection between the business and the consumer – the parking company and the driver.
Drivers and parking professionals can’t find each other
The reason is simple: communication in the parking industry is old-school, and frankly not really working. Parking areas are marked with undynamic physical signage, and there’s no way of letting drivers know whether there are available spots or not. Many of the signs only tell them where not to park, and others are so packed with information that they are hard to interpret. Prices are also printed on signs, and cannot be changed from day to day so there’s no way to use dynamic pricing to increase occupancy rates.
The restricted communication possibilities lead to a situation where parking companies and drivers just don’t meet. And there’s no chance of growing a parking business efficiently under these premises.
Luckily, there are ways to close that interaction gap between your parking company and drivers in need of parking. By using new technology, you can reach out to customers in ways that not only make the existing ones regulars at your location(s), but also bring in new customers.
You could be growing your business with these steps
Imagine the following scenario: whenever local drivers are going somewhere, they will first check if you have any locations nearby. Because they use their phone to navigate directly to your spot, they don’t respond to your competitors street signage.
What’s more, you have a partnership with local businesses and restaurants, so when drivers visit them, they make use of your parking spots. Even car rental companies are referring their customers to you.
Finally, new and existing customers can find your location and available spots with real-time navigation on their phone. No longer are they looking for a parking spot when they arrive at their destination – your parking spot is the destination.
With these three steps, you can make use of new technology to make the above a reality, increase occupancy rates and maximize your parking revenue:
1. Introduce loyalty programs
You’ll inevitably have customers coming in from the street, but do you know who they are and what happens to them when they leave? Don’t lose them, give them a reason to come back. Increase your earning per customer by incentivizing them to always look for your company when in need of parking – and reward them for choosing you.
2. Engage in local partnerships
Drivers only need parking because they are going to visit a certain place. Why not start cooperation with that place? Get new customers by partnering with local businesses, restaurants, events, car rental companies and others.
3. Navigation to your spot
The first question drivers have about parking is: where? And the second one is: is there space? Communicate the answer to your customers. The foundation for increasing customer loyalty and occupancy rates is now in place, and it’s time to tie it all together with real-time availability and navigation directly to your doorstep.
New tech is a risk-free investment for your business
All three points are interconnected, and by making use of them together, it’s possible to give drivers a great customer experience: personal connection, easy-to-find parking and a strong incentive to return. Technology has made it possible to tap into the unused potential of interacting with drivers effectively, and rewarding them for engaging with your parking facilities. These steps are guaranteed to generate higher revenues and satisfied customers, with no risk to your current business.
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ParkMan is an efficient digital solution for parking management, and a parking app for drivers to find and pay for parking. Read how ParkMan can help you!
Main photo by “Logan Walker” from Unsplash/CC
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