Let’s continue talking about your traffic flow and look at the layout of your venue. Safety is a crucial factor when it comes to evaluating our policies and procedures, so we need to evaluate any safety issues when it comes to how vehicles enter, exit and travel throughout your property.
As I shared before, at one of our locations we were looking for a feasible way to redesign the flow of traffic. One of the biggest drawbacks to the existing design forced our guests to have to navigate the flow of traffic as it entered and exited the property. The entrance to our agritourism venue and the location of the farm store were both across our main traffic route. So not only were people having to avoid cars as they crossed with strollers and kids in tow, but cars were confronted with foot traffic almost as soon as they turned in off the main road. Sometimes we even had trouble with our entrance lines extending into the flow of traffic.
Though you cannot eliminate cars and people using the same spaces, you can make sure the flow allows for the highest level of safety. Creative use of blockades and signage will keep the majority of cars away from the majority of people on foot.
Alternative Parking Areas
When you find yourself using alternative parking areas that are a greater distance from your entrance gates, I would suggest an alternative entrance for your guests. Of course this will mean staffing another ticket booth and adding security to avoid unpaid guests, but it will also assure a better experience for your paying customers. When guests have to park out on the back forty and then have to walk all the way back to your gates, it may keep them from coming back. A full parking lot is a good thing, but be ready to adjust your processes to make sure everyone has a good experience.
Staff Your Lot
One of the best ways to create a smooth and efficient parking experience is to staff your lot. Usually you will begin to recognize the high traffic times and dates and can make sure that you have people ready to direct traffic. We found that it typically requires at least three people to be successful.
The Coordinator (#1)
The first person, the one that guests will see first, is the one in control. That person needs to be able to coordinate the others as well as deal with the public. They need to be able to think quickly and communicate effectively. They need to be able to move the talkative guest in a courteous manner to avoid traffic and safety issues.
(We would always get people just coming to use the store and wanted to park near the store. Unfortunately, on the weekends, a close spot was not always available. So it’s the main parking attendant’s job to explain in five seconds that it wasn’t possible. Some would choose to park and walk and some would choose to come back on a weekday. Make sure you have a method for these guests to turn around and exit the property.)
The Director (#2)
The next person that is crucial to keeping things running smoothly is your directional guy. He is on the main traffic route and is visible to the guests as they travel the main road. He stands at the end of the row that he wants the vehicle to use. They purposely block the road so that the vehicle is forced down that aisle. They use their hands in a way that is impossible to miss so that guests can see their next move. (We always instructed our parking staff to make sure they used their hands away from their bodies so that they were visible and did not blend in. We also used vests that made the staff recognizable.)
The Runner (#3)
The third person needed was called the runner. That person would navigate the rows and communicate back to the others the number of available parking spaces. They were always on the move and would be the final person in the system. They would block the aisle near the open spot and help the guest to find it quickly.
As the traffic grew heavier, we would add people along the route to keep cars moving forward and not going down aisles in search of open spots. We would also add runners to find open spots and direct traffic within the aisles.
There are some common sense things that can add ease of operation. I recommend that you:
Post aisle numbers that you can use to give guests further direction.
Use cones to block aisles that are full when you cannot staff as heavily.
Have some disabled parking spaces available that are coned off or clearly marked when you have the need. Your first parking attendant will have control over these spots.
Keep good radio communication – it’s vital. When cars are coming in by the hundreds, everyone needs to be in sync.
I hope some of these things help you in your endeavor to provide a positive experience for your guests. I know it’s not glamorous, but if it’s not done well, it can diminish everything else you offer.