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October 21, 2016

Upon arrival at their destination, the average driver will spend up to 37 minutes looking for the perfect parking spot. Okay, that is a totally made-up statistic, but we've all been there. It's not uncommon to make at least two or three laps around that final destination in the hopes that the Parking Karma Gods will shine down upon you and reveal the perfect spot.

Of course, if there were a convenient parking lot that wasn't charging an outrageous price, most folks would definitely swoop in and score a spot. That puts you, as the owner of said parking lot, in the proverbial driver’s seat.

Generating parking lot revenue is definitely a location-centric kind of business. If your lot isn't in a high-traffic area, then you'll be challenged to find a flowing revenue stream. Let's assume you've got a big lot in a decent neighborhood. Now what do you do with it to make more money? Consider the following suggestions:

Get Your Lot in Gear

 Before you begin to expand the use of your parking lot, you'll want to get it ready. If you’re hosting people in your lot, the last thing you want is crumbling asphalt, which can leave you open to lawsuits from patrons and vendors alike due to the hazards.

That is where applying a sealcoat to the asphalt can make a huge difference. Water, gasoline, oil, antifreeze, and many other corrosive materials take a toll and create small cracks which can lead to big headaches if left untreated. Sealcoating will help smooth things out, seal cracks and extend the life of your lot. This is a smart business investment that should be made every 3-5 years because it will protect your prime asset: the parking lot.

Sublet to Valet

If you own a commercial building with adjacent parking lot, then you're free to make money from that lot as long as your tenant agreements don't preclude you. A great idea would be to sublet your lot to a valet service. This works if there are busy restaurants close by that need parking spaces at night. If you're lot is empty after hours, then put it to work.

If your lot is near an event venue, then you should absolutely be making money at night with parking. Instead of a valet, you can hire a service to manage the lot anytime there is an event and charge by the car. Have you ever gone to a venue with a nearby parking lot that wasn't full?

Set up a Weekend Farmers Market

Suppose your lot is totally empty on Saturday and Sundays. You could put that lot to work as a farmers market. No matter where you life, there are probably a few farmers markets up and running in empty lots. Guess what? There are probably all kinds of vendors who wish they had a space there. You can become an offshoot of those markets and pick up those extra vendors. It would require a bit of research on your part, but once you get rolling, you can charge per booth space. You can even turn the management over to a central organization and let them run everything.

Throw a Food Truck Night

When the farmers have packed up their stalls, you can turn your lot over to the food trucks. Once again, you'll be providing a space for vendors who need to attract customers to a mobile kind of business. Food trucks all have strong social media followings. The more trucks you allow to come in, the bigger the group. You could set this up as a monthly or bi-monthly event.

Install Vending/ATM Machines

If your lot is in a well-lit and secure area, then why not consider adding vending machines or ATMs? You can lease these machines and have them serviced. Translation: You don't have to do anything but collect money. You might not make a lot of extra dough during the day, but if you're renting out your space to the aforementioned farmers and food trucks, then you can see where these machines would generate some serious coin.

With a little effort, your parking can be transformed into a gold mine. It might even provide you with enough income to go out and buy another parking lot. That’s a good way to drive your business.

Megan Wild is a real estate and home improvement blogger. Catch her tweeting about home trends @Megan_Wild.