Car parks can be beautiful things when they are full of wheels and your pub is full of people, but what do you do when it looks like a desolate concrete wasteland? Here are a few ideas to make the most of that concrete space.
1 Hire it out
You could get annoyed about people parking up for reasons other than paying you a visit, or you could see it as an opportunity. With more cars on UK roads than ever before (some 37.3 million at last count) spaces are at a premium. Apps and sites such as www.yourparkingspace.co.uk help drivers find places to park and businesses hire out their spaces.
2 Put in some charging points
Six years ago there were 3,500 electric cars on UK roads but that number had soared to 202,000 by the end of last year. With electric vehicle (EV) prices coming down and petrol prices going in the other direction, that number is only going to grow. EV drivers need places to power up and where better to do this than somewhere you can rest and get a bite to eat and a drink? Companies such as www.pod-point.com explain that there are various options for businesses that install charging areas. You could operate it as a loss leading way to get people into the venue or by charging to charge. You can also increase the number of charging points you have in your car park as demand grows.
3 Build accommodation
You'll obviously need planning permission for this, but if you have the space there could be an opportunity for a more permanent solution. The Cartford Inn, in the Lancashire village of the same name, has built two stunning studio cabins at the end of the car park farthest away from the pub. With their own private gardens they have the sense of being a holiday home all of their own, yet are still just a short stumble from a multi-award winning pub.
4 Host a bungee jump
Not for the faint-hearted but definitely one to help you create a buzz. The Firbank in Manchester's Wythenshawe have held several charity bungee jumps in the car park. Brave/daft customers go up in a crane, then bungee from a frightening 165ft. Last year's event raised funds for Prostate Cancer UK. There is also space in the car park for a bouncy castle and a bucking bronco, for those slightly more averse to heights.
5 Serve street food
It could be as simple as making space for a fish & chip van once a week, or doing something slightly more elaborate, but a car park can give pubs without a kitchen a chance to cater. For pubs with food it means an opportunity to try something different. Other types of food offering can work too. Every second and fourth Saturday of the month sees the car park at The Red Lion in Bridge, Kent, transformed into a Farmers Market. And of course a beer festival could also extend into your car park too.
6 Give them a reason to come in
Tired of school run mums and dads clogging up the car park? Entice them in with your coffee and breakfast offer or do an early evening meal deal for all of the family.
7 Screen events
This might only work in the summer but a big screen in a car park can work wonders for major sporting events such as World Cups. Plus it means you're going to get less beer on your ceiling. It can work for other events too. When the Super Bowl comes around, Hickory's in Chester puts up the marquee, big screen and hires a DJ to hold an annual party that brings hundreds to the venue.
8 Hold a rally
It's only fitting to end with a way of bringing more cars to your car park. The Wonston Arms looks more like a scene from Monte Carlo than a Hampshire village whenever it hosts its car rallies. Sports cars fill the spaces to add even more glamour to CAMRA's pub of the year. As well as attracting car lovers you could also reach out to bikers to hold rally's or become a stop off point for them.