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Young Professionals In Parking (YPIP) Are Coooooool!

Isaiah Mouw

The first official IPI Young Professionals in Parking (YPIP) event took place at the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. It was scorching outside on the Vegas strip, but inside the Minus 5 Ice Bar, young professionals wore winter apparel as they gathered by the dozens to network and keep warm. YPIP was the vision of two young IPI members who saw a need to further the advancement of the young professionals in our industry. With a mission “to provide a greater platform for professional development, networking, and education for young professionals throughout the parking industry,” IPI embraced the vision to formally start the Young Professionals in Parking program. You can now follow YPIP on Facebook to keep up with the upcoming events and opportunities as this program

We hope to create opportunities for young parking professionals to develop the skills that will expand their knowledge of parking-related issues, promote advancement in the industry, and build relationships that will benefit them throughout their careers. In turn, we hope these leaders will foster creativity and innovation in parking design, operations, management, and technology in every sector, helping to bring the most important parking trends and ideas mainstream.

YPIP’s first Hot Spot event—these will take place around the U.S. this year and next—is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Denver, Colo. Young professionals will enjoy a tour of the groundbreaking Denver Union Station development and a great networking happy hour at the Terminal Bar. You’re invited—visit to register. Future events are planned in Miami, Nashville, and San Francisco, and we’re just getting started.

If you are under the age of 40, buckle your seat belt and get ready for a fun ride.

Changing with the Seasons


There are many cliché sayings about the end of summer. Personally, I am quite sad to say good-bye to this, in my opinion, way-too-short season. Nonetheless, this is the season for change. Autumn is welcomed in by the changing of the landscape colors and the changing of the weather. There are some who seek more of a change than just environmental— this might mean the changing of the workplace. Whatever the reason for change and new beginnings, organizations need to find ways to best prepare for workforce changes.ipi _online classes_intro to parking_259x203

Every new employee costs the organization. By offering training to new employees upon entry, their morale is boosted. They feel like they can do this job, they feel welcomed, and they feel like they made the right decision. These feelings aid the retention of the employee, which translates into money saved by the organization due to less turnover and less absenteeism. In 2013, The International Journal of Science and Research cited that the U.S. national turnover rate was 15 percent, which as cited is outside the comfort zone of many organizations.

Trained employees add value to an organization and require less supervision overall. Well-trained employees show both quantity and quality performance. The share of workers ages 55 and older hit 22.2 percent in July 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the highest since record keeping began in 1948. Knowing this, organizations must train employees to share their knowledge with new hires and train to retain. Trained employees are happier and most likely to stay with the organization.

Employee training is essential for an organization’s success. By implementing a training program, you can save your company thousands of dollars a year. Not only will the savings pay off for your company, but you can also increase productivity from your employees. Training is important and benefits all hierarchical levels of employees for improving performance.

IPI can assist with training new employees. IPI’s Introduction to Parking course will give your new employees a well-rounded experience to understand and learn about the parking profession. This course offers a complete introduction to parking enforcement, on- and off-street parking, revenue control, safety and security, communications, and customer service. This will assist with building a foundation towards on-the-job success and retention.

Good luck to all organizations in training, engaging, and educating new employees.


Still a Long Way to Go?

Dave Feehan

I read last week in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that in the wake of the firing of the athletic director at my alma mater, the University of Minnesota, for sexual harassment, the university president had extended contracts and given substantial raises to a number of coaches. Talk about income inequality! In the field of college athletics, male coaches sometimes make double, triple, or even quadruple what female coaches make in the same or comparable sports. Of course, the revenue sports—football, basketball, and hockey—are the places to make big bucks if you’re coaching, and women’s sports don’t generate the revenues that big-time men’s sports produce. Further, any athletic director will tell you that if you want to be competitive in big time college athletics, you have to be prepared to pay seven-figure salaries to male coaches in football and basketball.

What does this have to do with parking?

I also happened to be perusing the August issue of The Parking Professional this morning and was delighted to see a good friend, Kim Jackson, CAPP, IPI’s board chair, featured on the cover. This afternoon, I’m finishing up some final chapters for a book on women and downtowns I’ve been working on for a couple of years. (Full disclosure—a few prominent IPI members are contributing authors.)

In our research, my chief co-author, Dr. Carol Becker, and I found that women are generally thought to make or influence around 80 percent of retail decisions, residential decisions, and healthcare decisions. Women control more than half of the private wealth in the U.S. and represent nearly 60 percent of college graduates today. Yet women are woefully underrepresented in the professions that design the downtown experience.

Parking, like architecture, urban planning, urban design, landscape architecture, real estate development, commercial real estate brokerage, civil engineering, construction, and a host of other related professions, has been and is still male-dominated. More women have moved into these professions, yet they have not achieved parity in the upper levels of management, and it is here where the tone is set.

We surveyed about 200 women who were business and civic leaders and asked what they liked and disliked about downtowns. The number-one dislike was parking, and more specifically, parking garages. If women designed parking garages, how would they be different? And when women do manage parking, what are they doing to dispel the notion, as one survey respondent said, that parking garages are “dull, dirty, dark, and dangerous.”

It’s very encouraging that IPI has taken leadership in creating opportunities for women not just to work in parking, but to lead. Kim Jackson, Immediate Past Chair Liliana Rambo, CAPP, and the many other women who serve on IPI’s board and committees are but one of several examples of successful women who have proven that parking is not just a profession for male leaders. As the old saying goes, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” But my sense is that until more women are in the driver’s seat in terms of top management, we’re not there yet.

Labor Day, Smiles, and Flies


Merriam-Webster provides several definitions for the word “labor,” including “the services performed by workers for wages as distinguished from those rendered by entrepreneurs for profits,” and “an economic group comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages.”

As Labor Day approaches in the U.S., I think of the workers in our society and especially frontline staff. Restaurant servers, hotel housekeepers, flight attendants, valet drivers, bellmen, ticket takers, toll booth workers—these are all folks I encounter in my work and in my personal life. They work hard, often for less-than-great wages, and some rely on tips. These workers usually go unnoticed—they’re part of the scenery—until we have an emotional reaction, whether negative or positive.

We definitely remember when we have a negative experience. Like when the gate agent changes your seat assignment even though you paid for a window seat wingfront. The reason given is that it’s a small aircraft and they have to evenly distribute the weight. There is no apology for the inconvenience or offer to refund the seat assignment charge. That can leave a bad taste in your mouth for flying in general but particularly for that air carrier, right?

Similarly, we also remember when we have an excellent customer service experience. The frazzled and overwhelmed restaurant hostess who seats your party of five in a better table because she remembers you from lunch earlier in the day. The shopkeeper who strikes up a conversation with you because she can tell you’re not from the area and she wants to be sure you feel welcome in her city.

It’s easy to have the attitude, “Well that’s their job; they are in customer service.” Yes, of course it would be wonderful if all frontline workers were cheery at all times. They may not realize just how much their demeanor can affect the perception of the company by the end user.

But it is our responsibility as customers to realize these are hard workers who deserve respect, kindness, and patience. The old saying that you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar is true and goes both ways. A smile and kind word can go a long way to better someone’s day. (For the record, I never understood why anyone wanted to attract flies, but I digress…)

So as Labor Day plans likely include travel, eating out, and gathering with friends and family, be sure to be kind to those who are working on the long weekend.

Why Are Manhole Covers Round?

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

Why are manhole covers round? This question and many others make a list of the 100 most ridiculous job interview questions ever. Here are a few of my other favorites:

  • If you were a box of cereal what would you be and why?
  • Who would win in a fight between Spiderman and Batman?
  • If there were a movie produced about your life, who would play you, and why?

A quick Google search reveals many such lists offering hundreds of equally ridiculous interview questions from all kinds of companies, not just the quirky ones that seem to thrive on being viewed as weird.

I stumbled onto these lists after a friend let me know that she was preparing for a job interview and asked for help. My first instinct was to find some questions she might be asked and help her prepare the best answers. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that cramming for the interview by anticipating questions was not the best way to prepare.

The most important question to answer is whether we really want the job at all. This may seem like an altogether too obvious first step but to answer this question, one must do some soul searching and understand the job inside and out. There’s a big difference between running away from a job and running to one, and we should know in our hearts that we really want the job. Being desperate to leave a position clouds our objectivity and judgment and may create blind spots regarding a prospective employer. Worse yet, we might say things we don’t mean or embellish on our experience, creating expectations we may not be able to meet.

We should also seek to understand the value system of the people we’ll be working for and with and whether our values and theirs are compatible. This means doing our homework about the team we might be joining and preparing before the interview so we can have ready pertinent questions that will shed light on what environment we’ll be walking into.

It’s also critical to ask ourselves if the job we are seeking is one we are only willing to lease or one we want to own. Leasing suggests that we view our job as temporary while owning our career conveys an entirely different level of commitment. And if our prospective job is one we only see ourselves keeping for a few years while looking for another, better position, we should probably be looking elsewhere.

Once we’ve answered these fundamental questions, it’s time to turn our attention to what we bring to the new job. We need to be prepared to answer how we are uniquely qualified for the position and have facts to back this claim. We should objectively demonstrate how we’ve produced results, whether in overcoming challenges, creating positive outcomes, or leading innovation that has helped reach broad company or organizational goals.

The pursuit of a new career, position, or promotion requires intense circumspection, self-awareness, and preparation. No quirky quiz will ensure that you and your new job are a great fit.

Incidentally and maybe obvious to most is that manhole covers are round instead of square because a round cover won’t fall through the hole. Oh, and I’m picking Batman over Spiderman but please don’t ask why.

We Challenge You: Park Your Park

Rachel_Yoka 2013

We know parking isn’t just about cars—it’s all about people, mobility, and transportation systems that work together to build community. Who knows better how to transform a parking space than the leading organization of parking professionals?

From a one “park” in 2005 to nearly 1,000 tiny parks around the world in 2011, Park(ing) Day has grown by leaps and bounds. An annual worldwide event in which artists, designers, and citizens get creative, this movement takes metered parking spots and turns them into temporary parks. Many cities even host their own Park(ing) Days, including Denver and Philadelphia. This year’s one-day celebration of tiny, temporary parks in parking spaces will be the best yet because this time, it’s your turn.

IPI is throwing down the gauntlet to parking professionals to participate in Park(ing) Day.  Here’s how.

  1. Go do your homework at and sign up.
  2. Let us you know you plan to participate by sending an email to
  3. On Park(ing) Day, post your best photos to IPI’s Facebook Page ( with the hashtag #IPIParkingDay.
  4. Use all your social media channels to get the word out, and have a little (or a lot of) fun with it.

The winning team will receive their own Parking Matters® swag bag and, of course, bragging (and blogging) rights. I, for one, cannot wait to see what you crafty parking professionals come up with.

Pay It Forward

Brett Wood

I’m not sure how many of you use Flipboard on your tablet or smartphone, but it’s an amazing source of all kinds of news for any subject you are interested in. For me, it’s all about college football, urban planning, travel, and, of course, parking. The parking news page is everything you could hope for, including industry news, information about municipal/university parking challenges, innovations in parking, etc. Of course, there are always articles and slideshows about how badly people park. That’s my secret obsession—seeing how badly people behave in parking lots and the awesome reactions of their colleagues and neighbors. Seriously, Google “bad parking.” It might not get any better than that.

But the other day, I ran across a great story about humanity in the form of parking tickets. Recently in Australia, a new mother spent several days in the hospital with her sick 9-month old baby. When the child was released, the mother returned to her car to find a parking ticket on her car. But instead of the normal information, she found a note that read:

Hi there, I saw your car had a parking ticket on it. Im sure whatever you are going
through at the hospital is tough enough, so Ive paid it for you. Hope things get better!

You often hear of this concept in other forms: parking meter angels feeding coins into a meter to pay for an expiring transaction; someone buying the food or coffee of the person behind them in a drive-thru line. But this was one of the first times I had heard of someone taking care of a ticket while it still sat on the car. The concept seemed extremely generous and really served to make the new mother’s day a little brighter.

It also got me thinking about the policies and practices of our parking enforcement staffs and decision makers. Why should the new mother have received the ticket in the first place? Well, I’m sure the enforcement program at the hospital was put in place to manage demand and ensure a seamless customer experience. But was there appropriate signage or navigation to show the new mother where to park or how to pay? When the system was designed, did the decision-makers think about how distraught a patient might be upon arrival or that parking might be a very distant afterthought? Were hospital employees instructed to inform the patient about parking policy when they arrived?

Many of these customer service amenities might help to make the parking experience better and alleviate the need to write the ticket in the first place. While the mystery patron was very noble in their payment of the citation, the hospital could also pay it forward by making the parking experience a little easier.

The Three Rs

Bonnie Watts


“Every human being has to feel a part of a tribe. It’s programmed into us. And you have to feel that you’re contributing to something.” – Steven Hatfill

I recently attended an education training event, not much different than IPI members attending an annual conference. The overall theme of this event was “Engaging Your Tribe and Unleashing Human Potential.” “Tribe” was defined in many ways depending on your environment and we all interact with many tribes on a daily basis; our family, friends, community, work, and professional life. Often these tribes collide or overlap and we don’t nurture some as much as others. I am surrounded by friends and colleagues who work hard and are continually trying to balance their careers and their personal lives, but often one is sacrificed for the other and the effects become disengagement and general frustration at not being enough to everyone.

More and more, we are all attached to a number of mobile devices because we can’t be disconnected for too long from the barrage of emails, messages, phone calls, and requests that come from any one of our tribes. Finding hotspots or a charging outlet is just as important as finding good parking (I know our parking professionals can relate to that!). The more we respond, the more the demand for response. It becomes a vicious cycle that can lead to burnout and exhaustion. Our tribes then begin to feel we’re less engaged or less enthusiastic and the once super-star employee isn’t performing quite the same or the family isn’t getting as much face time and ultimately, we feel less passionate about any one or all of those areas.

“Unleashing Human Potential” was intriguing to me. It explored the thought that perhaps events (much like the IPI Conference & Expo) can unleash human potential both professionally and personally. That was even more intriguing to me! So I sat on the edge of my seat to find out: How do you do that? The presenter suggested that people want to connect with others who have the same passions, interests, and struggles and that with positive emotional experiences, people take risks and get outside their comfort zones. Creating a vibe of caring enables growth and creativity and allows for the [employee, partner, colleague, child] to contribute to the fullest. I was frantically taking notes and as I sat there, I realized I had an “Ah-ha” moment. Aren’t those the best?

For myself and my various tribes, I could see how there was a need for re-igniting human potential. That perhaps we aren’t always operating at our best and contributing at our fullest because we individually had not taken the time to Rest, Recharge, and Reconnect with our passions. With the constant demands on our time from all directions, is it possible that we are not giving our undivided attention to the things we are most passionate about? And what would happen if we did? What if you put away the phone during your son’s baseball game or left the laptop at home when you went on vacation with the family or took a day off just to work on building a deck or gave your time at the homeless shelter? Maybe you have pet day at the office or bring your son/daughter to work or an office baseball outing or cookout to reconnect on a personal level?

I came back from this meeting with a whole new outlook. I feel refreshed, recharged, and refocused but most importantly, I’m reprioritizing! I’m encouraging it with others around me. I’m already feeling more creative and more connected to my tribes.

Greetings From Old Orchard Beach Maine!


I’m sitting on the beach with a suitably fruity drink in my hand. Yes, that’s Jimmy Buffett playing in the background. It’s nice to have a little stress-free time, isn’t it?

We all look forward to vacation so we can strip some of the stress from our lives, but it seems to me that we cause a lot of our own stress unnecessarily. One of the ways we do this is to chase every bit of work that presents itself. You’ve all been there: staying at the office late to finish a proposal for work that you aren’t even sure you want to win. Work isn’t always going to be fun (that’s why it’s called work, right?), but we shouldn’t be setting ourselves up for failure by pursuing projects that we don’t want to do or pitching people with whom we don’t want to work.

All too often, though, that’s exactly what we do. At many organizations, the mantra is “any work is good work.”

Rather than pursuing every opportunity that presents itself, parking organizations should seek clients, customers, and strategic partners they want to work with. The best connections are with organizations that share your values. The best customers value what you do and what you stand for—and, by the way, they are more willing to pay a premium for it.

How do you find these ideal customers? Part of the challenge is truly understanding the markets you serve and where the best clients can be found, and then directing your marketing—your personal outreach and networking, public relations, advertising, online marketing, etc.—to those targets, and other organizations like them.

Also, tell your story in your marketing. Who are you? Why do you do what you do? What sets you and your people apart? When you convey these types of messages, you will naturally attract the types of organizations with which you want to work. They will seek you out.

Connecting with the right customers (not just any customer) will dramatically improve your organization. Your organization will be more successful, your customer interactions will be more pleasant, and your stress level (and your staffs’) will drop significantly. It makes work a day at the beach.

International Towing and Recovery Museum

Isaiah Mouw

Oklahoma City may boast about being home of the world’s first parking meter, but it was my hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn., that gave birth to the tow truck. I didn’t know this tidbit of information before visiting the International Towing and Recovery Museum on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The museum was a pleasant surprise with lots of antique tow vehicles and other unique tow vehicles including the “World’s Fastest Wrecker” and an actual military wrecker that marched alongside Patton’s advance on Germany.mouwblog

Towing goes hand-in-hand with most parking operations and typically is associated with a negative experience or connotation. It’s easy to yell at a tow truck driver or tow yard employee (remember ESPN’s Britt McHenry) who has towed your vehicle, but that might change for a visitor to the Towing Memorial in the front of the museum which recognizes hundreds of towing professionals who lost their lives on the job helping others. A short section of the museum also remembers the tow drivers who worked round the clock during 9/11 to clear debris and vehicles helping rescue workers at Ground Zero.

The museum also had a lot of kid-friendly tow trucks along with several replicas of the most famous children’s tow truck celebrity: Mater from Pixar’s “Cars” movie. I love visiting unique or quirky museums when I travel and this was no exception. But most importantly, this may have inspired me to start the first ever International Parking Museum. If there’s a museum for barbed wire and a museum for toilets, why can’t there be one for parking.