A Fresh Perspective on Parking
Before starting our careers in the industry, we thought we knew everything about parking. There are garages, surface lots, meters; what else is there to know? This is going to be easy. Obviously, after our first week at Passport we quickly grasped that parking is an iceberg, and the majority of the industry is hidden from the average person’s vantage point.
Parking is not something people give much thought. Customers typically make parking decisions based on location, price and convenience; but as parking professionals it is our job to make the parking experience seamless and painless for our customers. The only way to drive revenue is to ensure your parkers want to come back to your lot rather than have to.
We’ve been lucky enough at Passport to have met so many passionate parking professionals, both at private and public facilities, who are busy improving their respective parking programs. Speaking with such a diverse group of professionals, we have had the opportunity to discuss many different trends people have seen in the market and have received some very sound advice from female industry leaders. Here are few highlights we wanted to share:
Looking Beneath the Surface
1. Don’t be afraid of technology: As we meet new parking professionals each week, we find that many parking professionals, especially those in positions of power, are often resistant to new technology. For example, earlier this week, we were having a great conversation with a parking director which began very well. It was fun chatting and learning more about some of the current initiatives and projects, however once we uttered the words “cloud-based” and “mobile payments”, the conversation quickly went silent. A few seconds and awkward breaths later, we were told, “We are not trying to complicate things. We have been using the same system for the past 10 years, and it works just fine for us!”
It is always difficult to approach someone who harbors a fear of change. We find ourselves asking: where would our industry be if we accepted change (pun intended) over the past 30 years? By simply keeping an open mind and staying abreast of what services/products are available in the market, parking operators who have embraced cutting-edge technologies have gained significant operational efficiencies and, ultimately, created a better parking experience for their customers.
Ironically, we embrace technology in our everyday lives – Using Gmail, streaming music with Pandora or Spotify, booking a flight with Kayak, or even updating a profile on Facebook but yet shun the idea when it comes to improving your own operations.
It’s time for the industry to embrace technology. Why fear something that could make our jobs easier and more efficient or bring in repeat parking customers? As parking professionals, we have a unique opportunity to lead the charge in urban mobility. So rattle your walls for, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin’.
2. Parking is the first and last thing someone remembers: Someone pointed this out recently and it struck home with us. We even made a poster of this quote and hung it in our office as a reminder of what we should all be focused on. As parking professionals, we only have a few moments to provide the parking customer with a pleasant experience that will leave a lasting impression. As a customer, I want to seamlessly park my car, be on my way, and return to my car in a safe environment (and without a ticket on the window!). It is our job to provide this experience to our customers by using the tools available in the market.
3. Women, don’t be intimidated: One thing we can all agree on is that women are outnumbered in the parking industry by a wide margin. However, to be successful you cannot let this fact intimidate you. As women, we have a fresh voice and perspective to provide to our male colleagues in the industry. The recent Women in Parking conference showed us how, as women, we have a fresh voice and perspective to provide to our male colleagues within the industry. The conference taught us we can use this to empower ourselves and make our industry better for both men and women. This industry has so much potential for women and we can truly be a driving force for continued positive change in parking.