Do you have enough parking spaces for your massage clients, you and your staff? Between my wife being a massage therapist and the many massage therapy clients I have worked with over the years, I have seen firsthand the parking problems both new and established practices face. When you are shopping around for a place for your massage business, be sure to consider:
Parking Problem #1: Too Few Spaces
Does it appear there are enough parking spaces for all to use? If your clients can’t find a place to park, they’ll be late to their appointments, and they’ll show up annoyed and frustrated.
Parking Problem #2: Bad Location
Where are the parking spaces—in front of, behind or at the side of the building? Parking spots beside or behind the building may not be immediately visible to visitors. Also, consider what other businesses are nearby. If, for example, your practice is located near a major grocery store, consider that the best available parking spots may often be taken by shoppers.
Parking Problem #3: All the Good Spaces Are Taken
Are spaces rush parking (first come, first serve) or assigned specifically for your practice’s use? Designated parking spots are desirable and discourage others from taking your space(s). If your practice is located near a large business, ask if the landlord will provide you reserved parking for your clients’ use. Parking spaces located close to your door will be advantageous, especially for elderly clients who cannot walk too far.
Determine whether the landlord has a designated area for staff to park and whether there’s a parking policy the property manager regulates. Smart landlords require both tenants and staff to report their vehicle license plate numbers to the property manager for this purpose. Also, it’s best if your clients park in the spaces closest to your practice, and staff park elsewhere.
Parking Problem #4: It’s Pricey
For many massage therapy tenants, parking is free. But for some, monthly parking charges for vehicles can range from $75 per month to hundreds of dollars per month. (Whether there is a charge for parking or not, don’t assume parking will be available.) If there are parking meters or a pay-to-park system, consider the cost of parking to your clients as well. With lengthy appointments, these parking charges can be costly and your clients may not be able to simply run outside and put more money in a parking meter if required. If you can validate parking, ensure your staff explains this to clients prior to or following their appointments.
Parking Problem #5: Rules Can Change
You should also think ahead to how your parking options might change. From my experience of working for massage therapy tenants, here are two real-life stories that show you should never assume your parking situation will always remain the same.
I recall visiting a client for whom my company was negotiating a new lease for a property. When I arrived at the property, it was around 10:00 a.m. and the parking lot was already packed with other cars. I pointed this out and questioned just how busy this same lot would become after the vacant units were occupied with more tenants. After considering this question, my client wisely decided it would be in her best interests to not pursue this leasing opportunity.
I also remember a client who had been in the same location for almost 18 years and hired my company to negotiate the lease renewal. This client was very frustrated that the landlord had converted the property’s free parking facility into paid parking as this would greater inconvenience this tenant’s clients.
The Solution to Parking Problems: Get Everything in Writing
If the landlord or real estate agent tells you all parking is first come, first served, you may want to request a clause in the lease agreement stating that if, in the future, the landlord gives special parking rights or privileges to other tenants, you will get those same privileges. Parking is often used as an incentive by a landlord trying to bring in new tenants, and landlords have been known to unfairly divvy up parking to suit themselves or attract other tenants.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, always assume the only parking rights you will have are the rights you get in writing in your lease agreement.
Jeff Grandfield and partner Dale Willerton—The Lease Coach (www.theleasecoach.com)—are commercial lease consultants who work exclusively for tenants. They are also professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals for Dummies (Wiley, 2013). For a complimentary copy of their CD, Leasing Do’s & Don’ts for Commercial Tenants, email email@example.com.