Improve Parking lot layout for businesses

Improving Parking Lot Layouts For Businesses: Parking Your Way to Improved Customer Experience

When working with clients, our first glimpse of where customer service can be improved usually starts in the parking lot. Making it easy for customers to park, safely walk to the establishment, and ultimately find their car once they return, can make for a better overall experience. When it is time to repave or repaint your lot, consider improving your parking lot layout.

Here Are Six Considerations To Improve Your Parking Lot Layout:

1. Parking Lot Capacity

Does your lot barely hold the number of customers you have at any given time of day? Do you believe you may be losing customers on a regular basis due to lack of adequate parking, not just during a few peak days a year? If so, you may want to consider changing your lot layout to improve density. In most cases, a perpendicular (90° angle) spot is the most efficient. However, depending on your specific dimensions and restrictions, angled parking may be more efficient. It may even be worth considering one row of angled spots if you do not have space for an additional perpendicular spot row. These designs may  maximize the number of spots available, but  make it harder for customers to maneuver.

Top view of colorful car row on a parking lot, grey asphalt vehicle park with one last free spot left in diagonal angle slots, flat cartoon banner of city transport space - vector illustration

You should also consider how you balance customer experience with parking density. Creating an inviting, easy to maneuver lot creates a better first and last impression if you have the space to do so. In most cases, you can expect to need 310-330 square feet per parking spot including cross aisles and entrances.

2. Frequency of Arrivals and Departures

Are most of your customers parking for an extended period (a work location, a convention center, a school, etc.) or do customers come and go frequently (a grocery store, a convenience store, a shopping center, a restaurant, etc.). The more frequent the turnover, the more likely angled parking will work well. Drivers can enter and exit angled parking spots faster than perpendicular. They are also more likely to line up in the center on the first try, versus backing up and repositioning to avoid opening doors and hitting the car next to them.

3. Pedestrian Flow

Ideally, your parking lot will be laid out such that the aisles are perpendicular, not parallel to the main establishment. This allows customers to walk down the aisle in which they parked and usually cross over traffic once. If rows of parking are parallel to the building, customers are typically crossing multiple aisles, increasing their chance of encountering an oncoming car. If space is not a serious constraint, consider walking paths between aisles to remove customers from car lanes as much as possible.

4. Vehicle Flow

Parking aisles can be designed to handle one or two-way vehicular traffic. Moving all traffic in the same direction reduces the potential for vehicle accidents, requires less space per aisle, and allows pedestrians to focus on oncoming traffic from one direction. But it also requires drivers to thread up and down aisles in search of a space, if lots are often full. If 90% parking is in use, two-way traffic is a must given customers will be otherwise confused of which way to exit.

When designing the location of drive aisles, try to place them parallel to the longest edge of the lot. In other words, a rectangular lot that is wide east/west should have main drive aisles running east/west. In most cases, this will provide the most parking density. For larger parking lots, 30 spaces between cross aisles is a common standard.

A blue car is about to park in an empty parking space
5. Signage

A little signage goes a long way. Consider the following:

  • Designate accessible parking with standing signs, clearly visible from a distance. Drivers should not discover a spot is for accessible patrons from painted signs on the pavement, after they start to pull in. Likewise for spots designated for picking up an order.
3D disabled parking space with its signage on the ground and its information panel with the symbol of the wheelchair (cut out)
  • If customers are infrequent visitors and the lot is larger, all aisles should be labeled. This can be done with standing signage which also encourages customers to take a quick photo, or on the pavement. If on the pavement, it needs to be regularly painted.
  • Consider numerical or lettered systems versus colors or unique names. Is the Red aisle before or after the Yellow aisle? Is the Giraffe aisle before or after the Lion?
  • All standing signs should be tall enough to see over vehicles.
6. Overall Safety

When doing guest experience research, we see patrons express concerns of safety in the parking lot, which translates to a negative guest experience. Here are some considerations to improve safety:

  • Generous use of strong lighting will keep your customers safe and thieves at bay.
  • Minimizing the number of curbs and concrete barriers that are necessary will avoid pedestrian accidents. Even pedestrian walking aisles can be accomplished without erecting many barriers. Consider effective landscaping which is also more appealing.
  • Any potholes or broken pavement are accidents waiting to happen.

Never underestimate that making a good, first impression can pay dividends. For many businesses, that first impression is the parking lot!

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About Integrated Insight

Integrated Insight is an analytics consulting firm formed in 2009 by a team of past Walt Disney Parks & Resorts executives. With decades of experience at Disney in research, data analytics, pricing, revenue management, labor management and operational efficiency, Integrated Insight helps for-profit businesses and not-for-profit agencies reach their full potential. We marry our real-world experience with robust analysis of your business to find viable solutions to complex situations, and identify untapped opportunities for topline and bottom-line growth.

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