6 Ideas for Remote Parking Lots
When your attendance outpaces your facility, everything seems stretched all at once: seating capacity, kids space, lobby pedestrian flow, restroom lines, you name it.
But one of the biggies for guest services is your parking lot. After all, your property only has so many parking spaces. As a friend of mine says, “How many cars can you fit in a two car garage?” (two) “How many can you fit if you really really pray about it?” (still two)
Therein lies the remote parking solution. (And I define “remote parking” as any lots that are not immediately adjacent to your building.) Over the years, we’ve been in any number of remote parking situations…from across the street to across town…and there are a lot of factors to keep in mind.
If you’ve done it, need it, are thinking about it, or want to improve it, here are six ideas to consider as you make the jump.
1. Be a good neighbor before you have a need.
If there are businesses or schools in your immediate vicinity, try to make a friend before you make an ask. Like…well before. As in…as soon as you show up to the neighborhood. Learn the names of business owners. Offer to run a landscaping project at the school. Occasionally drop by with bagels. And do this not so the ask will eventually be easier; do it because Christ followers should be a blessing.
2. Find free (or cheap) shuttle options.
Not every church has a 15 passenger van on hand, and those multi-passenger golf shuttles can get expensive fast. So get creative and don’t break the bank. At one point, we had a neighboring day care with a couple of mini-buses and a large parking lot, both of which lay dormant on Sunday. The owner was incredibly gracious to give us free access to both (we paid for her gas and tossed in an occasional generous gift card). I have a friend at a church in a metro area who found out that the state capitol’s fleet of buses – which hauled legislators from building to building Monday through Friday – were unused on the weekend, and also stored close by. A few phone calls got them a great deal on renting them each week.
3. Invest in good signage.
A remote lot does you no good if no one knows about it. Have large signs so people know the direction they’re heading, where they should park, and where (and what time) the shuttles pick up. Better yet, pair signs with people so your guests have no doubt that they’re in the right place.
4. Make it a perk to park remotely.
Tout the benefits of off-site parking by reminding people they’ll get front-row drop off. Put your most entertaining church member behind the wheel who is good with kids and adults. Have a coffee station at the shuttle pick up point so people can sip while they wait. And occasionally stuff a note under the windshield wipers, reinforcing your appreciation for their sacrifice.
5. Ask for hand-raisers.
Don’t make remote parking a backup plan for when your primary lot gets full. Rather, encourage staff and volunteers who will be around all morning, key leaders, and others to go there first. That way you fill up the remote lot, leave spaces open in the primary lot longer, and it makes the shuttle schedule that much easier (you can put up the “lot full” sign and call it a day until it’s time for drop off).
6. Talk to your insurance company.
I’m not an agent or the son of an agent. If you plan to use someone else’s property, vehicles, or expertise behind the wheel, you need to keep your insurance agent informed. What happens if a car gets broken into? If your shuttle gets damaged or wrecked? If there’s vandalism at your host’s building during a weekend service? Cover all your bases to make sure that your coverage is intact.
What other ideas do you have for your remote lots? Comment below!