Parking Industry: A Well-Rounded Resume

Frank L. Giles

We’ve all been in the position of having to look for a new job or needing to take that next step in our career. So what do we do? Dust off the old resume. We want it to make us as attractive as possible

The best resumes are well-rounded, not one-dimensional. They relay a candidate’s versatile skills and varying experiences, and make him or her more attractive overall.

So what might the parking industry’s resume look like? It would probably read: on-street parking, airport parking, event parking and valet. It would also cover transportation and urban planning, but what might we be missing? I believe that the parking industry has positives that have not been accentuated enough. For instance, if you operate a parking deck, you probably have maintenance staff. I’ve seen maintenance personnel tackle everything from pressure washing to painting. I’ve even known maintenance staff who take care of landscaping, including cutting grass, hedges and setting plants, and I’m not just talking about around the parking deck, but along walkways and building fronts. These tasks are executed at a professional level on a daily basis by parking people.

We might also consider valet. Yes they park your car and they bring your car back, but is that it? I’ve known valets to carry luggage, give directions, and even recommend services and amenities. A good valet can easily replace a concierge.

These accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at and I’m sure there are a lot more I did not mention here. I think the parking industry would do well to add attributes like these on its proverbial resume. A well-rounded resume can make any candidate more attractive (not that we’re looking).

Future Thoughts

KimFernandezJan2014

Scrolling through Todd Litman’s Facebook page is a little bit like watching the slideshow of a world traveler—he has been everywhere to talk about transportation and the future. Head of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Litman is a respected researcher and expert on transportation systems, growth, technology, and trends, and that includes parking.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 11.02.04 PMParking, he says, is a critical piece to urban development and the success of cities, and the industry has a big role to play as technology and the ways we work, shop, and live change. He also has specific ideas on parking management and the role parking professionals should play in the greater planning and transportation realms, and he shares them all in the November issue of The Parking Professional. My favorite quote from our Q&A with him is, “Parking policy reforms can make major contributions toward creating more economically successful and livable communities, and many parking professionals are helping implement them. You should be proud!”

We’re all looking toward the future and the role the parking industry will play, and our November issue is chock-full of information to help you decide which direction to pursue and how to proceed. From a feature about the fledgling parking industry in Abu Dhabi to a fascinating look at how a parking census changed things for the better in San Francisco (do you know how many spaces exist in your city?), it’s an issue you’ll want to read and pass around in the office.

Know what else you should pass around? A camera—it’s last-call for The Parking Professional’s third annual photo contest and we can’t wait to see your parking photos! We have a streamlined entry process this year that’s super easy and you could win prizes ranging from Parking Matters® bling to a full registration to the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo, June 29 – July 2 in Las Vegas. Check out our categories, rules, and entry forms here, and send me your best shots!

I hope you enjoy our November issue!

A Glimpse of Tomorrow

Brett Wood

The questions are becoming so common, I can see them coming before they’re even asked. Invariably, when I am speaking at a conference or meeting, someone raises their hand and begins to ask about the future of transportation. Questions like, what about autonomous vehicles? Won’t that render parking useless? Or, millenials don’t drive! Won’t that change the way we think about parking?

I love these questions because they represent an opportunity to wax philosophically about how and why our transportation system is evolving. Are we responding to the needs of new drivers? Or are new drivers responding to policies and practices that the transportation industry has put in place during the past decade? It’s almost like what came first: the chicken or the TDM strategy?

I like to believe that the positive directions of transportation planners, urban planners, and parking professionals have started to shift people’s mindsets from the automobile and toward alternative modes of transportation. Things like car share, bike share, and ride share haven’t become popular because of fads in society, but rather because today’s planners have been able to capitalize on rising costs associated with driving, automobile ownership, and fuel prices. And the emerging generation has seen the fallacy in the quest for a suburban auto-dominated life. Maybe a perfect storm is driving these changes.

What I do know is that the future of transportation will likely continue to capitalize on these trends. In particular, the sharing economy will continue to drive changes in the way we provide transportation services. I was recently at a conference in Germany where BMW was promoting its focus on car share throughout the world. And Toyota was discussing a concept that goes well beyond that, linking transit, car share, and a mobility network of ultra-compact electric vehicles. The program, called HaMo, is being pilot-tested now in Japan and France. For more information, check out the YouTube video here.

If a system like this could be realized in urban settings, it would revolutionize the way we move about. It helps to solve first- and last-mile problems that have limited the effectiveness of connecting transit nodes with those areas outside of comfortable walking distances. And it continues to disincentivize single-occupancy vehicle use, which has plagued both parking and transportation networks.

So what does this mean for parking? The honest answer is that no one really knows. Less parking? Probably, but that’s not a bad thing. Smarter parking? Most definitely, but we have been moving in that direction for some time. As we continue to evolve this industry, we are only going to continue to push for more meaningful shifts in mobility and transportation.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: University Parking Practices Worth Reconsidering (Part II)

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change.” With the goal of improving parking on college campuses, this blog series concentrates on old parking policies and practices universities should re-think. I wrote last about the hunting license approach to parking permit allocation and demand-based pricing. Using price to differentiate parking products based on demand gives consumers a critical tool to determine if the convenience one parking space offers over another is worth the difference in price. What’s more, tiered parking systems enhance customer satisfaction by improving the likelihood that a patron will find a space in his or her assigned lot. Universities should also be thoughtful about how parking programs and services are delivered, so this post is on organizational structure and service delivery.

I visited a campus recently and learned that the parking programs and services there are spread across several different departments. Police write parking citations, permits are sold from the business office, the planning department plans for future parking facilities, and athletics handles parking for athletic events. It’s good to invite multiple perspectives on how parking should be run, but a decentralized, fragmented system promotes inefficiency, poor customer service, and tactical (rather than strategic) thinking.

The alternative to a fragmented system is a centralized one in which the parking and transportation department is the principle unit responsible for campus access programs and services. Ideally, this includes fleet services, alternative transportation, special event parking, and transit and shuttle services in addition to parking operations and planning. I do not suggest that parking departments work in a silo. Instead, parking staff work with their counterparts in other departments who serve as subject matter experts (e.g. the public safety department and emergency management) or as a client (e.g. the athletics department for on-campus athletic events). Centralized parking management provides the best opportunity to keep the big picture in focus by facilitating the coordination and delivery of related programs and services. It also ensures that each opportunity for a customer interaction is managed with the same overarching goals and objectives and that quality customer service follows from start to finish.

If colleges and universities wish to deliver the best, most efficient parking and transportation service, they must be willing to structure their delivery mechanisms for success. Consolidating all facets of access management offers the optimal solution.

Even Dolly Parton Knows About Parking

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I recently went to the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia to see “9 to 5: the Musical,” featuring the music and lyrics of Dolly Parton who many of you may recall starred in the 1980 movie of the same name.

s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

During the first scene, Judy, who is late to work on her first, day reports to Violet, her new supervisor, that she’s sorry she is late for work. She’s very upset and goes through a whole host of issues regarding why she’s late. All of her issues are related to finding parking.

After Judy finishes her rant on not being able to find parking to come to work on time, she asks Violet a series of questions, starting with, “Violet, did you know that the first parking meter was made in Oklahoma City in 1935?” Of course she doesn’t give Violet the opportunity to even answer this question before asking more and more, until Violet rolls her eyes and walks away.

After Judy’s first question, I whispered to my friend in the next seat, “I knew that. That’s in our online Introduction to Parking course.” My friend giggled and looked at me with that of-course-you-knew-that look. She then whispered down the lane to all our friends in the row that I knew that information. As they heard the whisper, each one of them leaned over in my direction and gave me a look and a smile.

The play was spectacular but when it ended, the conversation as we walked to the parking garage focused on that first parking meter in Oklahoma City. The questions from my friends ranged from “Why Oklahoma City?” to “Who thought about charging for parking and why?” “Did he make money?” “What did he charge?” and “How did that help the city?”

As I found myself continuing to educate my friends around parking I thought to myself, “I wonder what it would be like if no one ever did think about inventing a parking meter?” When I joined IPI, I never thought parking would be this interesting. Even Dolly Parton knows about parking!

Biden, Flying Cars, and IPI, Oh, My!

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Biden

Clockwise from top left: Prototype of a flying car; Google’s director of self-driving cars, Chris Urmson with Washington Post editor David Cho; Uber’s David Plouffe; “Easier Parking” panel: Washington Post editor Mary Jordan (at podium) with David Cummins (Xerox) Eric Meyer (Haystack),Rachel Yoka (IPI),and Post urban policy reporter and blogger Emily Badger; and Vice President Joe Biden.

What a day for parking here in D.C.! The Washington Post’s first Answers Series event focused on “Fix My Commute” and included a day-long, live stream, and studio audience of policy makers, wonks, and transportation insiders. Vice President Joe Biden, keynoted the event after introducing himself as Joe “Amtrak” Biden, much to the delight of the Amtrak and rail folks in attendance. See his remarks here. A panel on parking included IPI’s VP Program Development Rachel Yoka, Xerox’s David Cummins (IPI’s Smart Parking Alliance™ co-chair), and Haystack CEO Eric Mayer.

Bravo to David and Rachel for being so articulate about the role of parking, innovative approaches, and sustainability. The Post’s team did a stellar job with an all-star line-up that included mayors from Denver, Honolulu, Miami-Dade, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City, along with former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now co-chair of Building America’s Future.

Google X’s (the company’s “top secret” innovation arm) Chris Urmson gave a fascinating preview of their self-driving car, including a video of the vehicle being test-driven by friends of developers. There was also a presentation of a prototype of a flying car being “floated” by start-up Terrafugia. (It was parked just outside the theatre where the event was held—on-street and taking up quite a few metered spaces!).

My favorite soundbites:

  • “Thank you for letting me vent” is the most common close to any correspondence sent to columnist Robert Thomson (Dr. Gridlock) from consumers who write to him about D.C. traffic and commuting issues. See a related video shown here.
  • “A car is a freedom machine.” Andrew Card, Former U.S. secretary of transportation and White House chief of staff.
  • “A lot of technology exceeds government’s ability to take advantage of it.” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
  • “Transportation is a family’s second biggest expense, after housing.” Joe Biden

During the events, I sat next to Mark Wright, executive director of the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), now part of the IPI family. I also had the pleasure of speaking with David Plouffe, the new senior VP of policy and strategy with Uber (very relevant for ACT these days),as well as Liz Jones representing the League of American Bicyclists.

For parking to be so much a part of this national discussion on transportation, I couldn’t help but think, “We’ve come a long way!”

 

 

Are You Prepared For The Phablet Age?

Bill Smith

I’m an early adopter. I love toys, especially electronic ones. For the past few years, my favorites have been made by Apple—my Macbook Pro, iPad, and iPhone. So it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’ve already picked up an iPhone 6. I think I showed great restraint by waiting until the second day of release to get one, though!

I’m having a blast playing with my new toy. The bigger screen is easier on this old man’s eyes, and it’s much easier for me to type on. But the thing that stands out mostly for me is how the advent of the phablet (a cross between a smartphone and a tablet) is going to change marketing. Smartphones are nothing more than portable computers, and today’s larger phones with massive screens make them that much more useful for Web browsing and emailing.

If your organization hasn’t adapted to the new world order of phablets, you need to. According to one study, one in three Internet users already does the bulk of his or her surfing via mobile technologies. Organizations that haven’t optimized their online content for mobile users are behind the times and in danger of being left in the dust by their competition.

This is particularly true for parking companies. After all, whose customers are more mobile? Drivers want quick and convenient access to information about parking programs, available parking spaces, and validation—not to mention mobile payment options. But the power of mobile networking goes beyond drivers. City managers, parking owners, and facility operators use their iPads and smart phones to access information about consulting firms, technology companies, and other suppliers.

Desktop computers are so 20th century. If you want to compete in today’s marketplace, your online content needs to be smartphone friendly. Welcome to The Phablet Age!

Greening, but Still Critical

Rachel_Yoka 2013

The millennials will change everything right?  This next generation will change the way we live, transforming buying habits, working patterns, and transportation choices.

In a recent interview with a Huffington Post reporter, IPI staff discussed this massive generational change that is coming (in the context of sustainability, of course).  The reporter brought up an excellent point: The hippies of the ‘70s were going to have much the same effect—they were going to help create more environmentally-friendly habits, policies, and trends.  And they most certainly had an impact.  But this reporter pointed out to me that those folks are now the baby boomers, many of whom still live in the suburbs and greater than 90 percent of whom still commute and drive to nearly everywhere they want to go.

I imply zero criticism of either the millennials or the baby boomers, but this conversation affected how I think about generational change. As generations age, they also change. Their priorities shift as the world shifts.

Of all people, I believe that massive, structural change is needed to alter our current course, to preserve valuable resources that aren’t infinite, to reduce our dependency on  foreign oil, you name it.  This CityLab article, forwarded to me by Paul Wessel at the Green Parking Council, drives that point home—most of us still drive to work.

If you have any concerns that parking assets are on the way out, think again.  Our industry—including both parking and transportation—is absolutely critical, and will continue to be.

Parking Matters® at the Local Level

Brett Wood

I just got back from the Southwest Parking & Transportation Association (SWPTA) conference in fabulous Las Vegas. The conference was a blast and very rewarding given all the work that went into it. I’ve served on the SWPTA board for the last three years, with the last two as vice-president and president. More importantly, I’ve served with a number of great individuals who share a passion for making that organization thrive, serving parking professionals throughout the southwestern United States.

Just like us, there are more than 25 state and regional parking organizations throughout the United States, each serving a base of parking professionals who are looking to find their way in this exciting and growing industry. The beauty of the state and regional organizations is the ability to connect parking professionals of all experience levels. Just this past week, I observed past IPI Chair Casey Jones, CAPP, working side-by-side with local frontline staff from the City of Las Vegas to solve parking problems during an interactive parking charrette. In that instance, you have a guy who is considered to be one of the brightest in the industry helping a future industry star see the way.

These organizations provide experience, education, and opportunity, and we should strive to bring our knowledge and passion for parking to them—with the same fervor that we would bring to an IPI Conference & Expo with its 3,000+ attendees. For those who have found a home and a place to shine in our industry, there is no better place to give back than the local and regional level. IPI has realized this and is making great strides to expand its alliance with these diverse groups. Just this year, they’ve helped our organization stage frontline training and CAPP courses, helping bring the energy of their traditional offerings to folks who might not always have access to them.

The best way you can give back is to seek out a board position with your local organization. It’s not a lot of work—no wait, I’m wrong; it’s a tremendous amount of work—but the rewards are even greater than the time spent working. The people you meet and the difference you make is reason enough to go for it. And the icing on the cake? You might get to be in a Carlos Santana music video…just ask Casey!

Attendant to Detail

Shawn Conrad

Chivalry and customer service are alive and well in the parking industry. Everyone remembers when we are treated extra-special by someone at a hotel or restaurant or by our auto mechanic.

I’ll never forget the time one of our annual meeting attendees was too sick to fly home and tried to recover in a hotel room. The maid, too, noticed that this person was not feeling well, went out and bought a small teddy bear, an assortment of herbal teas, and a get-well card, and placed it near the customer’s pillow. What a wonderful gesture—it’s probably is an indication that this maid’s manager or hotel owner empowered employees to do things that might make guests’ hotel stays memorable.

The other day, I pulled my car into a very full office garage. Before long, an attendant walked over and at first, motioned that there might be a space available down one of the far lanes. As the last syllable came out of his mouth, he said, “follow me.” Off the attendant went running down a very long aisle, stood in front of an open space, and moved me in. As you can imagine, I felt very special and thanked this gentleman for his help.

The attendant’s excellent service made me feel the same way I do when I go to a big-box hardware store looking for a specific item. When asking a store clerk to help me find it, most will say, “it’s in aisle __,” before leaving me to find the item for myself. Other times, a clerk will walk with me to the aisle and point out the part I need. It’s one thing to say there is an available parking space or that the store sells an item but it’s up to you to find it, and another to go out of their way to find it for you. That’s service!

Maybe in the future all parking customers will be directed to an available space by a parking guidance system. But until then, it’s nice to know someone goes the extra mile to provide exceptional customer service. How about your organization? Are your employees providing services that set you apart from others?

Do you have an example of one of your co-workers going above and beyond just doing their job? Please share!