You're going to open a new restaurant. There are a lot of things that you need to do before you have customers come in. You have to decide what kind of food you're going to be serving, what kind of menu you want to offer, the aesthetic of the place, what kind of staff you are going to hire, and how much you are going to charge for your meals, just to name some. But what about parking? That can also play a big part in whether you succeed or fail.
This might not be as big a problem if you have a restaurant that's in the middle of a very populated city. The people of New York, for example, can take the bus, the subway, or even a taxi to your place for a reasonable price. Parking is at a premium and they won't want to circle around looking for spaces. On the other hand, if you're in a suburb, then you're going to have to think more about the parking situation. If people can't drive to your place, they will likely think twice about coming over.
One option might be to rent parking space, but that's only one possible solution. There are other things you should consider in order to address the parking challenges.
What does this mean? It means you should make it as easy for your customers to find parking. There are several things you can do:
Look at Your Restaurant's Layout: Is there a dumpster that is blocking a potential parking spot? Move it. See if there are other items you can shift around.
Get Rid of Unwanted Guests: Are there cars that don't belong to your customers or your staff (more on them in a bit) parked in your lot? Have them towed after a certain amount of time - cover yourself by having signs explaining that any non-customers can't park there.
Have Your Staff Park Customer Cars
Here’s a solution that you could carry out in a couple of ways:
Either Outsource or Work Within: You could consider hiring a valet service or having one designated staff member move customer cars to an area where you have reserved parking and then return the vehicle once they are finished eating.
Collect Money For It: You could charge a small fee for this so that you could recoup the cost of having to reserve a space, since you will likely have to pay a fee for doing that. .
Talk With Lawmakers in Your Town or City
It never hurts to see if there's something that could be done about the parking in your area.
Join Forces: If you have several restaurant owners in the same vicinity, all of you could contact your local politicians to see if there's anything that could be done, like having free garage parking nearby. This is something worth pursuing and there's a way that it could benefit both you and your area if you do this.
Contact Your Local Politician - There are both Congresspeople and Assembly people who can help you. You can call or email to see if you could set up an appointment to talk in person so that you can explain what is going on with your parking.
Be Upfront About Your Parking Situation
Transparency is the best strategy. There are several ways that you can do that:
Post About It On Your Website: You can explain on your website about any limited parking and list any alternatives, including street, garage, and lot parking. This will allow any potential customers to know what the situation is ahead of time and make preparations in case your lot is full. They will appreciate the heads up and will likely not hold any lack of parking against you.
Always Mention It On Social Media - Posting images of your restaurant and food dishes is a great way to attract attention. You can also mention your parking situation on those postings so that people will see that you’re being transparent.
Ask Your Staff to Park Further Away
You want to have parking reserved for your customers. It can be frustrating for a customer to get to a restaurant and see that the staff has taken up a good number of spots.
Get Off-Site Parking - Consider paying for the staff to park in a nearby lot or, depending on where they live, possibly using a bike,scooter, or even walking to work.
Pay Transportation Costs - If they need public transportation, see about factoring in the monthly cost of doing that.
Protect Their Bikes/Scooters - You could even get a bike rack for the staff to lock up their bikes or scooters while they work. That way, you can focus on maximizing your customer parking.
Consider Paying For Customer Parking
Customers will be happy knowing that you are looking after them
Pay For Lot Parking - Is there a public lot next to your restaurant? You could take off part of the cost of their meal for parking or you could validate their parking tickets. That way, they will be more open to parking in these lots and not worry about having to pay extra money for it.
Spread the News - If you do this, you can include that information on your website or any advertising. That could be a draw, especially for those who like to drive to your restaurant.
See About Allying With a Neighboring Business
Is your restaurant next to a place that has a large parking lot and different hours? They might close after 4 pm and you are open until late evening. You could talk with them about being able to have your customers park there after they close.
Share the Money: You could come up with a profit-sharing agreement. See what amount would work best for you. That would allow you to ease your parking worries.
Share The News: This could be something you would include in signage and on your website so that people will know about it. You could even talk up the other business for their generosity.
Use Technology To Your Advantage
Technology is at the forefront now. You can use it for your benefit.
Develop an App - There are a lot of apps where people can order food. Consider having an app made for your restaurant and enabling people to choose pick-up or takeout.
Devote Some Parking For App Pick-up - Think about having a couple of spots open so they can just come in and out to get their orders. They could also do it the old-fashioned way and just call in their orders on the phone. Whatever the case, think about this demographic too when it comes to reserving parking.
It can seem like a lot, but it's a very necessary part of being a restaurant owner. Take the time to add this to your overall strategy, since you could lose a significant amount of revenue if you don't. That being said, you could have all the parking spaces available, but if you can't deliver in terms of quality food and service, along with providing a memorable time for each visit, then you likely won't succeed. Parking's one component that you have to work on, but you need to combine that with the others to have a restaurant that has a chance of staying open for a long time.
Remember - these are the things you can do:
Know your restaurant’s layout and create optimal parking
Utilize your staff for parking
Have your staff park elsewhere
Partner with other nearby businesses
Talk with local lawmakers
By doing all that, you will greatly improve your chances of success. If you have any questions, you can always contact us.