Back in the old days when we use to go out to the mall, before coronavirus, we all would drive up one lane and down another looking for what we used to call ‘Rock Star Parking’. You know, that perfect spot right in front? The one reserved for our favorite rock star or celebrity who just might want to shop where we shop.
We have all seen people drive round and round and round, looking for that one perfect parking spot. They are not handicapped, at least they have no sticker or placard showing. They more than likely have no heavy load to bring into the store or center, or they would most likely use a loading zone. They seem to be nothing more than lazy. They will waste 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes of their precious time and perhaps a couple of dollars of gasoline, trolling for that one perfect parking spot, ofter having it snatched right out from under them by another faster driver, much like that famous Kathy Bates scene from Fried Green Tomatoes, though hopefully, the outcome of the real-life scenario is a little less violent.
Fried Green Tomatoes clip courtesy of Universal Pictures, Act III Communications, Avnet/Kerner Productions
It’s not just in mall parking lots that we value prime parking spaces. The same scenario plays out time and time again in front of grocery stores, restaurants (even take out restaurants), hardware stores, big-box retailers, and yes, even optical shops and practices. How many times have you not shopped at a store because you couldn’t find a parking space closeby? How many times have you just said screw it, and driven somewhere else because you know they have plenty of parking?
What goes through your mind when you find a good parking spot in front of Home Depot, Target, Kroger, Safeway, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, or Starbucks, only to see an employee get in or out of their car in a premium parking spot next to you?
While I am reminiscing about movie scenes and parking, remember where the boss parked his Porsche in the movie Office Space? You got it, right in front. No wonder one of the first things Peter did after being hypnotized was to park in Lumbergh’s reserved spot.
Where do you park at our store or practice? Where do your employees park?
When someone is building a new retail structure, the general price budgeted for parking is $10,000 a spot for a surface space and $20,000 per spot for an underground parking space. How many eye exams do you have to do to pay for a single parking space? How many pairs of eyeglasses must you sell to pay for a spot? Now, how many parking spots are you and your staff using on an average day? You have parking for one simple reason… so that your customers have somewhere to park, not you, not your employees.
What does your employee handbook say about parking? Nothing? Change it. You and your employees should never be taking up prime parking real estate when your customers are looking for somewhere to park. You and your employees should be as far back in the parking lot as safely prudent. Think of it as parking social distancing. Yes, you need to be safe as well. When the sun sets early, have women move their cars closer so they are in easy view of the shop. Walk together to your cars when the store closes. There are ways of practicing parking social distancing and employee safety.
The price of parking, even free parking, can be very expensive. When you and your employees take up valuable “Rock Star Parking” from your customers and patients you could very well be costing yourself a fortune in sales. Reserve the parking in front of your store or practice for your customers and patients and not you and your staff.