4 Alternative Uses for Your Parking Lot During COVID-19

Rose Paving / July 21, 2020

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Even during the COVID-19 downtime in retail, a lot is riding on your lot. While property managers have seen significantly reduced traffic to retail stores, restaurants, professional offices, and even some doctors’ offices, some have creatively transformed their parking lots into money—and memory—making opportunities.

Add or Increase Drive-thru Lanes

In the age of grab-and-go, drive-and-go is a good business strategy. With drive-thru visits up 26 percent in April, May, and June 2020, according to data from the NPD Group, quick service restaurants are making the most of the trend by expanding the number of drive-thru lanes or adding app/pickup lanes.

Rendering of Taco Bell Mobile restaurant. Source: Taco Bell
Rendering of Taco Bell Mobile restaurant. Source: Taco Bell

As Chipotle’s CFO Jack Hartung noted to investors in September, adding a mobile-order window costs about $70,000 but generates 10-15 percent higher volumes, which could mean about $300,000 in additional revenue according to a breakdown in a Restaurant Business article. If your restaurant has the ability to add a drive-thru lane, losing a few parking spots could bring in significantly more revenue. The experts at Rose Paving are here for you to help expand your business and your parking lot in the right capacity for your unique business needs.

Drive-in Theatres

Now Showing: Rose Paving, LLCOne family-friendly solution? Transform your parking lot into a drive-in movie theatre. Purchase an outdoor screen and projector—or if your lot is small, you can DIY a projector for your laptop—then choose a G or PG movie, create a save the date graphic, and start promoting on social media. Share the information with your tenants and encourage them to share with their followers. If your business has food vendors, invite them to set up kiosks outside to sell food. Likewise, retailers can set up tents to sell their goods for a marketplace vibe. Charge $5-10 per car for a fun, low-effort way to keep your property top-of-mind with the public.

Some businesses, like Lowe’s, are hosting these drive-in movie theatres in their lots to raise money for small businesses within rural communities who have been hard hit by the pandemic. They use the drive-in event to raise funds for their grant program with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which provides relief to small and minority-owned businesses in paying rent, payroll, and operational expenses throughout the pandemic. If fundraising sounds like a good option for your business, consider donating the funds to your tenants impacted by the pandemic or using the funds to help offset their rent during the downtime.

Dining Al Fresco

Many property groups have provided their restaurant tenants with extra space to expand outdoor seating areas, like sidewalk and parking lot areas, allowing the restaurants to reopen safely and in accordance with their local government’s phased protocol. This approach can go a long way with your tenants, as it helps them expand their space safely.

It also acts as a bit of a novelty for diners, who are looking forward to eating outside of the house again and seeing their favorite restaurants creatively transform parking lots into ambient dining experiences. With a tent for shade and a few colorful paper lanterns and string lights hung from the tent or nearby trees, a former sidewalk or edge of the parking lot suddenly becomes a romantic destination for summer drinks and nibbles.

Lease Your Lot

If hosting an event or using your parking lot for expanded restaurant seating doesn’t sound like the right option for your business, consider leasing it out to earn additional revenue. Some malls are leasing their parking lots to businesses or hospitals needing to expand their space for food trucks, curbside pick-up operations, or even COVID-19 testing sites. This tactic takes the event planning off your plate but still allows for revenue.

If you’re not concerned about revenue but want to help out during the pandemic, contact local charities who might be looking for outdoor space for safe fundraising opportunities. A big parking lot can provide ample space for socially distant events, like several food trucks setting up for grab-and-go and donating a portion of their proceeds to a charity.

Whatever solution is right for your business, make sure your parking lot is up-to-date before offering events, expanded seating, or the opportunity to lease. Meet all ADA requirements to ensure your facility is safe, free from barriers, and accessible for all. Reduce liabilities by filling potholes and cracks and creating a smooth, even surface. Keep the lot easy to navigate and traffic flowing with fresh lot marking. Create the right impression with tenants and their clients by ensuring your lot is in good condition.

Contact Rose Paving for a free lot assessment to ensure your lot makes the grade and is ready for these new opportunities. Now is the perfect time for maintenance and upgrading your lot while traffic is low, so reach out today.