In a relatively short amount of time, businesses like Uber, Lyft, Bird Scooter and Lime Bike were able to meet the needs of the traveler who refused paying for parking and travelers who loathed the dreaded “find-a-parking-space” problem that comes with traveling into urban areas. Recently LA Times and San Diego Union Tribune published an article about the impact of Uber and Lyft on the parking industry with Ace Parking claiming a 5-50% reduction in parking. Despite their ups and downs, these businesses have still managed to create a new industry standard. These ride share apps and scooter options create a “easy transportation” which is disrupting the market and reducing the need for a parking spaces. These companies have successfully done this for some years now and more threats to the market are sure to come.
Now its time for the parking and valet business to reinvigorate the “car-come-and-go” or parking service industry.
This blog will offer some suggestions for how the valet and parking businesses can add value to a quickly evolving market. We hope this opens your mind to new ideas and will help you to attract local nearby drivers looking to park.
Add Extra Car Services
The services you add to your menu should lead a customer to park with you over Uber-ing, Lyft-ing, or parking with a direct competitor. Any services you chose should add incremental value. This would essentially be adding a benefit that would help your customer enjoy their parking experience even more. Some examples are:
- Front Door Drop Off
- VIP Services
- Highlight the security of your parking location
- Details and washes
- Fluid Topping
- Rewards memberships
- Offer flowers or chocolates as a service
As long as you are concentrating on value from the customer’s point of view, any benefit you provide can have a fee when it is valued enough. In reflecting on adding value, your goal is to brainstorm to make sure your services are as attractive as possible. Try to find ways to provide more with optional services and of course service fees. When everyone wants the additional service, you can add it to your standard fees.
Listening to client feedback is another way to add value to your services or strengthen the value of your service packages.
Customer feedback is essential because customers know what they want and tend to be in tune with what your competitors are doing. Also, when clients do not seem to recognize a value you provide, feel free to add operational changes to your staff’s routine.
For example, valet staff could ask if customers would like to know about additional services on a routine basis with all new clients. This can also be occasionally added into the conversational mix with regular patrons. Another example, “Hey Bill, welcome back, the other day you said your wife’s birthday is quickly approaching. I understand you are busy, would you like us to help by having a dozen roses ready in your car when you leave today?” This could be a great value of service to a busy person who already made a statement the day prior they are in the market for a gift and time is their other pain point. Listening is key, and clients want a relationship with their service providers, paying close attention to client needs can unlock more avenues for revenue with clients who already trust your service.
Partner with Non-Competing Businesses
If you partner with the right business at the right locations, you can create an experience that will add value for your customers and help to generate more revenue for you.
For example, if you partner with a local business, you can offer a promotion that combines the two services together for added convenience to your customers. Another example, you can provide jazz festival attendees who bought their tickets via the ticket company you partner 10% off valet services. This promotion can go for a night or for the length of time the jazz festival takes place. A promotion or on-going partnership like this can add revenue and visibility for both businesses.
Find Customers with Mobile Advertising
You can use location-based advertising via Google Nearby and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to access locals who might be seeking parking. With Google Nearby, you can craft a message about your parking service that will appear on a potential customer’s mobile device via a Google Nearby alert. A message like this can easily target people who are looking for your service, and added value will keep them as a customer.
(Bluetooth Low Energy) BLE requires mobile users to have their GPS on, and their Bluetooth enabled. You can offer a “free valet” option to attract nearby customers looking for parking. This may help to attract a market share from Uber or Lyft, because the younger market are constantly looking at their phones, you may be able to get their attention.
Study The Competition
By studying other ideas that have suddenly gotten attention, you can learn about some ideas or processes that may work for your business. Let’s look at the startup company StearClear as an example.
SteerClear’s goal was to provide a ride home for you and your car when you are too intoxicated to drive home. However, this simple idea was not enough to sustain the life of the business. Although the business was featured in publications like Entrepreneur and Tech Crunch, it only reached 1.1 million dollars in investments (according to CrunchBase). Nowadays, the company’s website is defunct and going to Stearclear.com redirects to a case study about the former business.
While StearClear can be studied as a failed attempt within the startup community, it does reveal a possible pain point for a parking and valet company to take on as an opportunity. The SteerClear app page still gets comments that the service is not available in their area.
How will you deal with customers that parked with you but become too intoxicated to drive home?
Aiding the customer who is “prepared to drive, yet unfit or unable to drive home” can be a area of service only you can fill. After all, who wants to Uber away from their car just to come back and drive it home the next morning? Providing flexible options for your customer is ideal to adding value. Also, offering a service like this that looks out for a customer’s well being and keeping the roads safe is an ethical business move on your part.
Therefore, one may conclude that adding a “SteerClear” type service to your valet and parking business could be your parking business’s new revenue model, but hopefully we just have more responsible drivers.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about some ways the parking and valet business can add value and stand out among the competition. The key is to study the customers, listen to their needs. Try to view the service as a relationship and come up with creative ways to keep them coming back to your business while at the same time seeking ways to attract new business. Good luck with your marketing endeavors!