pastillero de gran kamagra pruebas de saliva para detectar drogas propecia champú de hierbas esenciales

Meet the Cookie Thief

iStock_000012701134_Large

Some people collect dolls, postcards, baseball caps, corks, stamps, coins, snow globes, vinyl albums (yes, they’re back!), or numerous other collectibles. I collect poems.

One poem I just discovered is particularly enchanting and includes a life lesson. It originally appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, the popular series edited by Jack Canfield. Meet “The Cookie Thief” here:

The Cookie Thief
by Valerie Stevens

A woman was waiting at an airport one nightshutterstock_372092143
With several long hours before her flight
She hunted for a book in the airport shop
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see
That the man beside her as bold as could be
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene
She munched cookies and watched the clock
As this gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by
Thinking “If I wasn’t so nice I’d blacken his eye”
With each cookie she took he took one too
And when only one was left she wondered what he’d do
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh
He took the last cookie and broke it in half
He offered her half as he ate the other
She snatched it from him and thought “Oh brother
This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude
Why he didn’t even show any gratitude”
She had never known when she had been so galled
And sighed with relief when her flight was called
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate
Refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat
Then sought her book which was almost complete
As she reached in her baggage she gasped with surprise
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes
“If mine are here” she moaned with despair
“Then the others were his and he tried to share”
“Too late to apologize she realized with grief”
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

Sometimes the way we perceive things is just plain wrong. Think about how clueless most people are about what parking professionals do and what the parking industry is all about.  I like that this poem is a humbling reminder to step back sometimes and look past our immediate assumptions to see other possibilities.

Thinking Big

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

We often drive a lot during the holiday season to visit friends and family up north. If I’m not concentrating on fending off the 18-wheeler that seems to enjoy my lane more than his, these drives give me time to think. I spend at least some of the seven-hour trip reflecting on the passing year and gearing up for the next by setting my New Year’s resolutions. This year I went for working out more and of course, cutting out as many sugary treats as possible. iStock_000062256442_Large

As resolutions go, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors came up with a big one for the coming year. Posted recently on a LinkedIn series about big ideas that will shape 2016, Barra offered that the coming year will be transformative in the way people get to and from their destinations. She identified three key areas for change and committed to leading the auto industry through the transformation. As parking professionals, it’s worth paying attention to what the world’s auto makers are focusing on this year and years to come. Barra’s key areas and the future focus for GM are: 1) shared mobility, 2) autonomous vehicles, and 3) alternative propulsion.

For marketing expert Michael Spencer, the most interesting topic for 2016 is the millennial generation. According to Spencer, understanding this age cohort is critical to successfully providing consumer goods and services. Because Millennials are the largest age cohort, they are first digital natives, they are omni-social and connected, they have less money to spend, they are encumbered by debt, and their values and preferences are different than other generations. In response, Spencer suggests having a good brand and optimizing it on social media; creating campaigns that relate to social good; having a “soul for sustainability;” and most interestingly, he suggests marketing your vulnerability since Millennials value quality and transparency.

It’s hard not to think of the future in any way without considering the impact of technology on our industry, our society, and perhaps even our very essence as humans. Ian Bremmer, president at Eurasia Group writes, “Almost everybody who talks about the rise of technology today focuses on automation and how it’s eliminating jobs quicker than they can be replaced; very few people focus on how technology is changing us, our identity, how we organize our lives. and coexist with one another. Nature vs. nurture has now become a triangle of nature vs. nurture vs. technology, and we know very little about how this third corner will shape us, in 2016 and beyond.”

Only time will tell if our resolutions or future predictions come true but it will be an exciting year by any measure. Think big.

Improving Urban Mobility

L. Dennis Burns

Information and communication technologies combined with smartphone applications and location data from global positioning systems are making feasible transportation services that have long been imagined but never realized on a large scale. These innovations include carsharing, bikesharing, microtransit services, and most notably, transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft. businessman with smartphone in the city

These services are being embraced by millions of travelers who are using their smartphones to arrange for trips by car, shuttle, and public transit, as well as for short-term rental of cars and bicycles. The new services epitomize today’s sharing economy and allow an increasing number of people to enjoy the mobility benefits of an automobile without owning one, and may encourage others to leave their personal vehicles at home for the day, reduce the number of vehicles in their household, or even forgo having one at all.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently released Special Report 319: Between Public and Private Mobility: Examining the Rise of Technology-Enabled Transportation Services. This report was developed by a special task force of transportation experts from industry and academia and identified a range of research needs.

In a separate but related publication, Xerox’s Innovator’s Brief for the Transportation Industry recently presented “A Three-Point Plan to Improve Urban Mobility.”  This brief highlights the fact that cities are going to get a lot more crowded. Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. The United Nations estimate that an additional 2.5 billion people could be based in cities by 2050. As our world becomes more urbanized, the issues of traffic congestion, parking, and access management are amplified. Xerox’s brief focuses on three key points that can empower cities to be more sustainable and improve the quality of life for residents and tourists:

  • Improve the efficiency of existing mobility infrastructure. Adding more infrastructure is simply not an option in many urban environments. Using technology, we can move people, vehicles, and goods more efficiently through the existing infrastructure.
  • Increase the capacity of the existing mobility infrastructure.  The goal here is to move more people, vehicles, and goods through the existing infrastructure.
  • Change the behaviors of urban travelers. This is about influencing the choices travelers make toward options that reduce congestion.  Agencies that implement dynamic pricing can reduce traffic congestion in all electronic toll collection and/or on-street parking situations, using pricing as a mechanism to influence driver choices. Smart parking programs help increase space availability and reduce pollution by helping drivers get to a parking spot at their desired price point sooner.  Incorporating telecommuting into the office culture helps to keep people and vehicles off the roads during the day.  Providing accessible multimodal options such as ridesharing, carsharing, public transportation, etc., via mobility apps creates opportunities to make different choices that can result in less personal vehicle usage, and therefore less congestion.

Both of these publications reinforce the integration of parking and mobility management strategies into a more comprehensive and connected platform of transportation choices. I encourage you to explore these resources and add more parking voices to the conversation.

Free Parking is Bad and Demand-Responsive Parking is Good, Right? Not Necessarily (Part 2)

Dave Feehan

Yesterday, we talked about why the belief that demand-responsive parking is always best might just be a myth. So if that’s not the answer to our parking woes, what is?Machine parking

Each of the components of a successful downtown has different parking needs. The answer, then, to an effective parking system supporting and complementing all of these components is not just demand-responsive parking, but a comprehensive, well-managed, customer-sensitive, and user-friendly approach.

Boise, Idaho, is a great example. If my memory is correct, Boise introduced a couple of hours of free parking to entice shoppers and diners. The parking system actually lost revenue but sales tax revenue exploded, more than making up for lost parking fees. Not only that, but shoppers were extending the time they spent in downtown. And as any shopping center manager will tell you, the more time I can capture a shopper, the more money that shopper will spend.

The Oakland article mentioned in yesterday’s blog post suggests that shoppers should abandon their cars and take public transit. But that is not how Americans shop. Remember, women make about 85 percent of retail purchases and most do not want to be schlepping a couple of shopping bags on a bus or subway car.

In the 1970s, Jim Rouse, the creator of festival marketplaces, brought that concept to Kevin White, then mayor of Boston. He proposed turning Quincy Markets into a festival market. The idea became a reality, and it worked, so other cities—Baltimore with Harborplace and New York with South Street Seaport—followed suit, with some degree of success. But festival markets were no magic bullet, and when they were tried in places like Flint and Toledo, they failed miserably.

I worry that demand-responsive parking is becoming the next magic bullet—an idea that works superbly in some places, modestly in others, and not at all in still others. If we really understand what shoppers, diners, downtown employees, tourists, downtown residents and other downtown visitors want and need—if we start with the user and not with the parking space—we might find far greater benefits in the long run.

Another trend in the parking industry is for parking system managers to engage in a strategic planning process. My bifurcated brain tells me that any city or district thinking about demand-responsive parking should start by listening to users, engaging them in a really effective strategic planning process, and only then deciding how best to serve and support them. Demand responsive parking is AN answer—not THE answer.

Free Parking is Bad and Demand-Responsive Parking is Good, Right? Not Necessarily (Part 1)

Dave Feehan

The headline in the Oakland, Calif., East Bay Express read, “Why Oakland’s Free Holiday Parking is Hurting Business.” And once again, my split personality emerged from its usual hiding place. All of the experts quoted in the article said free parking will hurt merchants. But how do they know?Machine parking

You see, I’ve spent pretty much all of my professional life in the field of downtown and community development, but I’ve also been deeply involved in parking for much of that time, both as a manager of a downtown parking system and as a consultant. So I look at situations like Oakland’s and part of me sees what parking professionals see. But another part of me sees what merchants, restaurant owners, shoppers, tourists, and downtown residents see. And I’m not sure that free parking is always bad and demand-responsive parking is always the best answer.

I know: “Free” parking is never free. We’ve buried that discussion, hopefully, years ago. And yes, demand-responsive parking seems to be working in places like San Francisco and Seattle, where demand for on-street parking is extremely high.

But I’ve been working with the City of Lebanon, Penn., for about a year on the creation of a business improvement district, or BID. Lebanon has a visually appealing, historic downtown but its retail component is weak and there are too many vacancies and storefront churches on its main street. Is free Saturday parking the answer to downtown Lebanon’s woes? No. Might it help for a few years until the BID can recruit a much stronger set of shops and restaurants? You bet, if it is managed well. Free parking can be managed so that employees and employers don’t park all day in front of the store.

What we do know is that downtowns that are lively and vibrant need great restaurants and clubs, enticing shops and successful office tenants, and lots of residents. Having a university branch, a good library, a live theater, and a burgeoning farmers market help to round out a place that local residents can be proud of, and city officials can appreciate as a major tax revenue generator.

What are the answers? Come back tomorrow and find out!

Does Your Organization have Gas in the Tank?

Mark D Napier

Let’s think about mission, values, and vision for a minute. Consider that your organization is a car on a road. Mission simply tells the car which direction to point; it becomes a far off destination that the car is inclined to travel toward. Values define the boundaries of the roadway. They inform the organization of the appropriate path it must travel toward the mission. Vision is the gas in the gas tank. Without this, the organization goes nowhere.night driving

Most organizations lack any sense of vision. Why? Because conveying organizational vision is hard work and requires leadership. It requires the leader to passionately discuss what makes the organization great, where it is going, and why. The leader must inspire and communicate. This is hard to do with a fancy poster and a cozy seat behind your desk. The resulting lack of vision means the organization idles on the roadway. Personnel become disinterested and underperform.

Everything of significant consequence in human history is the result of conveyed vision. “In 10 years we will put a man on the moon.” “I have a dream…” “Four score and seven years ago…” “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Throw the mission statement in the garbage can. No one reads it anyway. Inspire your organization with vision. Put gas in the tank. Strong vision guides values and inspires mission.

Words Mean Things

Rachel_Yoka 2013

My kids love to explore online and share funny memes—who doesn’t, right? (As an aside, memes are apparently pronounced MEEMS with a long E, like the word “seems.” You can thank me later for that tidbit.)

Photo credit: fourwheeler.com

Photo credit: fourwheeler.com

My daughter, Sofia, comes running down the stairs, telling me, “Mom! You have to see this!” She’s got her ever-present iPad with a photo of a parking sign, so of course I am interested. The sign reads “2-hour parking, from 7 to 8 p.m.”. Per my usual response, I tell her, “Words mean things. You have to choose carefully to get them right.” We have a good laugh and start looking up other less-than-effective parking and other signs.

How often do we choose the right words, taking the time to make sure we get them right? And then do we add in a quick grammar check to make sure our written or spoken words get our point across? Signs don’t carry emotion, but our words certainly do. Not only do our words have meaning, but they last—on paper, online, or in memory.

Once we have our words carefully selected and our impeccable grammar verified, it’s often wise to consider our delivery of those words. This has always been a critical element of communication, as so much of our message to others is non-verbal. Joining IPI as a staff member after 12 years of membership has brought this to the forefront for me. Every interaction, every communication, every conversation matters. IPI staff know that every time a member calls or emails, we have an opportunity not only to add value to that person’s day, but also to make it a bit brighter. Parking professionals know that every interaction with staff, the public, and stakeholders will influence those individuals’ perceptions of the parking program and the industry in general.

Maybe that’s the secret—once we have our words, our grammar, and our delivery ready, we can make every day a bit brighter and spread a more hopeful and joyful message. ’Tis the season!

Best Invention Ever!

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

It is the time of year I give special praise to the Big Guy for my blessings. Oh, you thought I was talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas? No, I meant college football season. I’m especially grateful for my DVR and regard this as the greatest invention ever next to electricity—which, of course, makes the DVR work. iStock_000027638972_Medium

Before the DVR, you had to accept that there would be great games you couldn’t help but miss, especially if you attended a game in-person or if you just couldn’t stay tuned to the last Pac-12 or Mountain West game that lasted well past your normal bedtime. DVRs make it possible to record multiple games at once so you can watch at your leisure while not giving up on other things in your life, like watching the home team in-person. I’m especially fond of skipping commercials and replaying that big play over and over again. Simply put, the DVR has improved my quality of life in immeasurable ways. I’m also quite sure it’s added years to my life.

As clouded as my judgment can be, I must remind myself that the little black box is not an end unto itself; rather, it provides a means for me to enjoy my favorite sport. It isn’t really the invention itself that I love, but the convenience it offers. Parking technology is no different and if we think of technology as an end, we’re missing the key reasons to pursue technology in the first place. We may even invest in and implement a technology that doesn’t advance the ball at all, so to speak.

I see three major reasons for implementing technology: to improve the customer’s experience and hence their loyalty to my business, to reduce operational costs thus helping to improve my bottom line, and to generate revenue—again, to improve my bottom line.

In a recent IPI blog post, our friend Cindy Campbell makes the point clearly but from the consumer’s standpoint. During a recent trip to the airport, Cindy lost her parking ticket and faced a staggering fine (read it here). But instead of throwing their hands up and dinging her egregiously, Cindy’s airport parking staff explained that they could figure out with relative ease how long she had been parked and would only charge her for the time she actually stayed. To no surprise, Cindy was elated. This is technology doing its best work and offering a way around an age-old practice that never resulted in improved customer service or loyalty. Sure, the airport was out a bit of potential revenue but that wasn’t really earned in the first place.

Though it’s not an exaggeration that my DVR has literally saved my life, I am sure not to view it as an end but a means to a better TV-watching experience. Let’s be mindful of that in our parking world and pursue innovation and technology for the right reasons.

Flexibility: Lessons from the NFL

Shawn Conrad

The National Football League is now in the 13th week of a very grueling 16-week schedule. These games and athletes are at times poetry in motion, and at other times, it’s a game that is vicious and hard-hitting. It’s amazing that any players make it through the season with all of their limbs and senses intact.

I recently listened to a post-game interview with a player who was asked how he was able to make it through so many seasons without any serious injuries. He mentioned that the team’s trainer had emphasized stretching their muscles and joints every day, sometimes multiple times a day, to stay limber and agile. What the trainer was really preaching was for the athlete to stay flexible.

What a great message for us non-NFL players as well. While we aren’t so much concerned with being hit by a 260-lb. middle linebacker, we are constantly having to deal with a rush of constant change in our professional and personal lives. Think about all of the things that are changing around us: technology, new duties and responsibilities, co-workers coming and going, our parents and siblings getting older, kids learning to drive and then soon off to college, and more.   iStock_000000867534_Large

Many things change over time and most of the time, you can’t do anything about it. Things can change because they weren’t working or were out of date—maybe you found something that just worked better.  Having to deal with change requires a degree of flexibility as you figure out how to approach shifting technology or working in a new environment or figuring out children who no longer seek your input.

Adapting to change isn’t easy and it takes a flexible mindset. You have to stay open to new possibilities and opportunities. Those around you who successfully tackle change in their lives are often seen as more open-minded and adaptable, while those who resist change seem as though they are standing between the end zone and a running back who does the 40-yard dash in under five seconds.

We’ve all heard that change is inevitable. The way you tackle it will affect how happy and productive you are.

We will soon be looking at the beginning of 2016—a new year that will bring with it many changes and things that are different than what they once were. Take a moment, take a few deep breaths, and think how this change will affect you. Then, focus on how you can adapt to this new reality.  And don’t forget to stretch.

Is the Parking Industry a Healthy Place to Work?

Dave Feehan

I recently sent a few friends in the parking consulting profession an online article from Harvard Business Review. Here is an excerpt:

As a recent review of past scientific studies noted, frequent business travel, especially long-haul travel, accelerates aging and increases the likelihood of suffering a stroke, heart attack, and deep-vein thrombosis. It also exposes travelers to pathological levels of germs and radiation. If you fly over 85,000 miles per year, you are absorbing radiation levels above the regulatory limit of most countries.iStock_000007198270_Large

At about the same time I was sending this article, I received my monthly issue of the Wellness Letter, published by the University of California, Berkeley. The lead article was entitled The Girth of a Nation, and it outlined how we have become a nation of porkers. More than 80 million Americans are now obese.

What highlighted this topic even more was a tour and cruise from which my wife and I just returned—to Spain, France, and Italy. I couldn’t help but notice how many of my fellow Americans were moderately to severely overweight, while the Europeans we saw throughout our tour mostly looked trim and fit.

I’m going to guess that some of our colleagues who run downtown, university, airport, and suburban parking systems have internal programs that encourage healthy behaviors on the part of their employees and their families. I would bet there are a few that promote good health among their customers. But I would wager there is a whole lot more we could be doing:

  • How many parking systems have wellness, diet, and exercise programs integrated into the healthcare programs they provide employees?
  • How many have incentives built into their programs that reward smoking cessation and weight loss or control?
  • How many systems actively partner with local health organizations and provide educational messages in facilities?
  • How many systems promote bike riding for customers and employees?
  • How many work with local farmers markets to encourage purchase and consumption of locally grown, healthy food alternatives?
  • How many hold periodic brainstorming sessions among employees focused on health?

When I compare my fellow Americans with people from other countries, I’m convinced we could and should do more. It’s a wise investment.

Black Friday: Parking Myths and Realities

Kim_Fernandez_March2015

Are you ready for Black Friday parking traffic? Not so fast—a new research report says what we believe about traffic the day after Thanksgiving may not be based in fact.iStock_000030661198_Large

INRIX, a big-data technology company, released its Thanksgiving Travel Forecast yesterday, and it predicts a 63 percent Black Friday traffic increase at the country’s busiest malls. Travelers going to major airports today, the report says, should allow at least 50 extra minutes for traffic over and above a regular day. But that’s not all—the report says the belief that Black Friday shoppers hit the malls early turns out to be a myth.

In fact, America’s busiest shopping centers will see peak traffic (including in parking garages and lots) between noon and 3 p.m. Shoppers venturing to Palisades Center, West Nyack, N.Y., which the report identifies as one of the 11 busiest shopping centers in the U.S., should expect a 250 percent increase in travel time to and from the mall (a 46 percent increase over Black Friday 2014), and those patronizing The Galleria in Houston can expect a travel time increase of 110 percent.

Airports also experience interesting trends. The report says travelers to West Coast airports, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, can expect the biggest traffic and parking spikes early—7 to 10 a.m.—while those on the East Coast will see the most traffic and biggest delays between 4 and 6 p.m.

Curious which U.S. cities see the most traffic the day before Thanksgiving? The report breaks that out, too:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Seattle
  4. San Diego
  5. Boston
  6. Portland, Ore.
  7. New York
  8. Hartford, Conn.
  9. Miami
  10. Chicago

Expecting a lot of parking traffic this holiday season? IPI has a news release that might help spread the word to your community about how to make it as easy as possible. Get the release here and distribute it in your area as-is or customize it. Read the complete INRIX release here. Remember, plan your route, pay attention to signs and traffic reports, breathe, and happy holidays!

The Lost Ticket: But How Does it End?

campbell crop Capture

I think of myself as an optimist. Keeping that in mind, let’s say I recently “created the opportunity” to fully experience the effect of losing my airport parking ticket/gate coupon. Perhaps a few of you have experienced that same sense of dread when you’ve frantically searched for that confounded date/time-stamped ticket to no avail. In my case, I returned to the airport after midnight with no attendant on duty, and no way to pay the $72 parking fee I rightfully owed. No, my only immediate option was to pay out the lost ticket fee … of $350.00. Pretty steep punishment for being disorganized. Having said that, I know the rules and why they exist, so I paid the full fee, whimpered a little (or a lot), and figured I’d call the parking management company the next day to explain my plight.

As I placed the call to the airport parking office, there were two thoughts going through my mind:

  1. This must happen a lot. There’s likely an appeal process for forgetful morons like me.
  2. No matter the outcome, this customer service contact is going to become a story to use during future customer service training sessions. Whether it’s a going to be a good story or a bad story has yet to be determined.

I called the number and immediately went to voicemail. The friendly, outgoing message from the parking supervisor informed me that she would call back within the hour. (Oh yes, I would be timing it.) Sure enough, within 10 minutes, I had a return call. I began my explanation with an apology for my error as well as a clear assumption that there would be a process by which I could receive a partial refund. Without hesitation, the parking supervisor told me not to worry, this kind of thing happens frequently. When I told her that I had not yet located my ticket, she further assured me that there was a simple process to verify my actual parking use at the airport and once that could be confirmed, she assured me that a refund would be processed. During the entire call, her voice tone was friendly and understanding. Everything about this interaction alleviated my concerns and confirmed that there was a caring, knowledgeable parking professional on the job.

After our business conversation concluded, I let her know that I was also in the parking industry and commended her for how well she handled this customer service interaction. “Wendy” went on to tell me that she’s been in the parking service industry for more than 23 years and she loves what she does for a living. She feels good about being able to help people with their parking issues and concerns. I told her that feeling came through loud and clear.

Needless to say, I’m adding this to the list of good stories to be told during future trainings.

Control Alt Delete: Rebooting Management

Frank L. Giles

Back in 2013, I wrote an article for The Parking Professional entitled, “Whistles and Pom-Poms.” The article focused on the dual nature of a good manager (cheerleader and coach) and how to balance those characteristics to better support and grow staff. Since the article ran, I’ve not only had a chance to strengthen my own managerial techniques but have been able to observe managers up close and witness the ebb and flow of day-to-day employee challenges and solutions.iStock_000016124931_Large

There is one hangup I’ve noticed many managers still struggle with when trying to take a team from mediocre to great. It can often be difficult to introduce a higher standard or new way of thinking when your team is used to a more relaxed environment. It’s kind of like announcing that there is a new sheriff in town, but your staff sees you as the same old sheriff.

This can be addressed the same way we address a computer when it freezes up or stops taking commands. No, I don’t mean take it out back and shoot it. I’m talking about a reboot. When we reboot a computer we are told to press those three magical buttons: Control – Alt – Delete. We don’t know how they work and we don’t care. We just know everything starts fresh once we see the Windows logo and hear that harmonic note.

It may be a mystery with computers, but here is how it works in management; to reboot your management style you must first establish or re-establish control. This may call for pulling rank, but in a nice way. Deliberately communicate to your staff the nature and boundaries of the manager-employee relationship.

Present the alternative to the old way of doing things. This is where you introduce new procedure or reintroduce those things that have gone neglected. Finally, delete useless or counterproductive elements from your operation. This can include distractions, redundancies, wasted time, and even staff members who will not grow with the operation. Just like your computer, these three buttons should be pressed at the same time Once you hear that harmonic note your team is on its way to greatness.

Where Has The Year Gone?

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

Overheard one recent Sunday morning while sipping coffee and reading the paper at the Jones family dining table:iStock_000022015805_Large

Robyn (my wife): “Hey, did you realize that Christmas is only two months away?”

Me: “Huh? Sorry, for a second I thought you said something about Christmas.”

Robyn: “Yes, it’s only two months away.”

Me: “I wonder how my fantasy team is doing today?”

Robyn: (narrows eyes, appears unamused).

Me: “But don’t we still have Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving to celebrate? And don’t forget National Donut Day …” (muttering in barely audible, defeated husband voice) ”Where has the year gone?”

Later that day at the grocery store:

Me: “Look at the wrapping paper, icicle lights, and fake trees. I guess you’re right, Christmas is just around the corner.”

Robyn: “Silly man. Of course I’m right.” (winks)

You and I might be in denial but the holidays are right around the corner. The good news is that if we start now, we can get the shopping done, lights hung, and meals and travels planned. If we procrastinate, we may still get through the holidays but it might be stressful and unpleasant.

As parking professionals, we have many things to do, whether we provide parking for an airport, downtown, special event venue, commercial district, or university. We must complete scheduling rosters and ensure that our facilities are clean and presentable, and we may need to order de-icer, snow shovels, or umbrellas for our patrons. Another thing we need to do is complete and execute our holiday communications plan. This entails being proactive, pointed, and persistent.

Being proactive requires that we establish relationships with our media partners so we know what they need and how we can deliver it. It also means that we have a well-thought-out plan and the tools and resources to get the job done. Being pointed requires that we have focused our key messages and know exactly what is important to communicate to our public. Being persistent means that we recognize that the parking public receives our message in many different ways and that we explore and utilize each fully.

Soon, I’ll be on a ladder with driving snow at my back as I work to get the Christmas lights on the house and I’ll no doubt have cards to send and presents to buy. But I’m certain I’ll think longingly to the time not long ago that I could have started in on the holiday tasks and avoided cramming everything into the last few weeks, hoping that I don’t miss something important. We can work now to get our holiday communications plan in place for a successful season free of the stress of bad planning and poor execution.

I Want You to Want Me

MichelleJonesHS

What’s in your wallet? Or on your Key Ring app? I admit it, I love my loyalty cards. Airlines, hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, specialty retailers … I have them all. I love to feel like I’m appreciated for patronizing a business regularly. Whether it’s an occasional free burrito bowl at Qdoba or a complimentary item at Sephora during my birthday month, it just makes the shopping/dining/travel experience all the more enjoyable.iStock_000049550260_XXXLarge

Well, what if we could say the same for parking? Wouldn’t it be cool to have a gift card or loyalty card for the parking garages and spaces that you frequent? Or what if your everyday parking garage rewarded you with a free car wash once a month for being a loyal customer?

The ability to gift teen and college drivers with a loaded parking card for those pay-and-display or pay-on-foot machines would be ingenious. While this might decrease enforcement revenue, it also may increase lawful parking sales and encourage responsible parking habits.

The app companies are creative. ParkMe offers points and The Parking Spot airport parking service does have its Spot Club. For a company like that, maybe every 100th use of their app could earn one a $5 credit?

Logistically I realize this may involve partnerships between parking facility owners, operators, card manufacturers, etc., but I think if nearly every other type of business we encounter can achieve this sense of loyalty appreciation, surely there are opportunities for the parking industry as well. Who’s with me?

Choice or Convenience?

Christina Onesirosan Martinez

A friend of mine from the U.K. parking fraternity was recently asked to create a presentation on the topic of “Parking: A Matter of Choice or Convenience?Among the areas he would be looking at was why, given a choice, would anyone actively choose to park in your car park? He called me as he knew that I regularly looked through our survey responses/customer feedback and perhaps I might be able supply some useful anecdotes and sound bites.

So I embarked on my fact-finding mission and began to dig deep into our parking data … luckily for me, he only needed U.K. stats! What I found surprised me.

When it comes to parking, the most commonly asked question is about how much it will cost, with an overwhelming 80 percent of all motorists using our site requesting this information when booking a parking space.

The next most frequently asked question when booking a parking spot is, perhaps unsurprisingly, about the exact address and zipcode, with 70 percent of motorists wanting this information to enter into navigating devices.

My research also revealed the top 10 most requested cities when it comes to motorists looking for somewhere to park, and perhaps rather surprisingly, it’s not the capital (London) in first place! The North of the U.K. leads the top of the chart with Leeds as the most popular request, followed closely by York, with Birmingham, Manchester and Brighton rounding out the top five. In fact, London ranked sixth for most requested cities!

Top 10 Parking Requests, 2014-2015

  1. Price.
  2. Zipcode.
  3. Opening hours.
  4. Height restrictions.
  5. Safety info ( e.g. does it have CCTV, is it secure etc).
  6. Toilets.
  7. Handicapped parking info.
  8. Parent and child spaces.
  9. Motorcycle spaces.
  10. Payment info (coins, credit cards, pay by mobile).

On a lighter note, I also stumbled across the following data:

  • One-third of U.K. drivers forget where their cars were parked. And it appears to be a battle of the sexes: 24 percent of men and 32 percent of women admit to not knowing where their cars were left.
  • Motorists living in Wales may have some of the best driving roads around but have the worst luck remembering where they’ve left their cars—nearly 40 percent say they had trouble finding their cars in a car park.
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, motorists in London reported the least trouble, with only 18 percent having forgotten where they left their cars.
  • When it comes to age, motorists age 55-64 were most likely to forget where they had parked, their car followed by 18-24 year-olds.

I wonder how the Brits compare to the other parkers around the world.

 

The Lost Art of Effective Discipline

Mark D Napier

I was talking to a fellow administrator (Bill) the other day and he lamented about a problem employee. He said, “With Ed, it started as a warning, then a reprimand, and then a one-day suspension. He is still a discipline problem and has acted out again. I think we are going to recommend three days off this time.” Well, I thought, Bill is doing everything right according to Progressive Discipline 101. But if he was doing everything right, why was he having bad results? Bad results! Oh, contraire—soon he will have enough to fire Ed. Success! iStock_000026010123_Large

What is the purpose of discipline? It should be to change behavior. If that is the purpose, than how could we see what Bill is doing as anything other than a failure?

Am I being too harsh on Bill? Not at all. We as leaders are far too easy on ourselves. Ed has behavior problems we have failed to deal with. Ed cares nothing about organizational sanctions because he has no investment in the organization or personal relationship with its leadership. We failed Ed more than he failed us. After all, didn’t we hire Ed?

As leaders and managers, we need to spend time developing personal relationships with our people. Further, we need to seek opportunities to get them invested in the organization. Without these two elements, traditional disciplinary interventions are meaningless. If Ed felt he let Bill down, he would experience some angst regarding his behavior. If Ed and Bill had a relationship, Bill could have leveraged it to give an old-fashioned butt chewing that would have had more impact than 100 reprimands. We have become timid leaders who have lost the ability to actually engage in disciplinary dialogue. If Ed felt he was not holding up his end of an organization he was attached to, he would be remorseful about his conduct.

If you have a problem employee, engage him or her. Following progressive discipline to its inevitable abyss, while easy (and the HR department will love you), is not leadership. Leaders affect positive behavioral change to retain problem employees and rehabilitate them.

Can a Downtown Organization Manage Parking?

Dave Feehan

I recently had a couple of inquiries from colleagues asking me if I knew of any downtown organizations or business improvement districts (BIDs) that managed downtown parking. I was immediately reminded of a brief report I wrote in 2010 on the subject for a client, and was able to send her a copy of the report.

As I reviewed the 2010 report, a number of questions came to mind:

  • How many cities are now contracting with downtown organizations or BIDs to manage municipal or public parking?
  • Are other private or public entities contracting with downtown organizations or BID to manage parking that they own or control?
  • What advantages and disadvantages are there to this arrangement?
  • What results, both positive and negative, have these contracts or arrangements produced?

At the time I produced the report, I identified eight cities where downtown organizations were managing some or all of the municipal parking system: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Boise, Idaho; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Memphis, Tenn.; Nashville, Tenn.; Schenectady, N.Y.; and Tempe, Ariz. I haven’t checked with these cities lately, nor do I know how many other cities might currently have similar arrangements. What I do know is that all of these cities and the downtown organizations I contacted reported positive results. But there are also cautions that should be considered.

Briefly, the eight organizations reported:

  • They made significant changes in parking operations, rules, and regulations to make the systems more user-friendly, with varying degrees of success.
  • They were, in most cases, able to earn a management fee to support the downtown organization and pay for internal management personnel.
  • They developed and offered a host of innovative amenities that customers found appealing.
  • They mostly reported higher revenues as customers found the parking system friendlier and often cleaner, safer, and more attractive.
  • They were able to use parking as a more effective economic development tool.

Disadvantages included not having the deep-pocketed financial reserves that cities have, and finding it difficult to continue innovating once the initial changes were made.

It would seem that with the proliferation of robust downtown organizations and BIDs, more cities might consider this as an option. However, not every downtown organization is eager to take on what might be a headache if the system is poorly managed, and others may not feel this is their core business. City governments might also be reluctant to turn over a considerable asset to a group that they feel lacks parking management knowledge and experience. Nonetheless, it’s an option worth considering.

(Full disclosure: I was president of Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. when that organization pioneered this arrangement in 1990.)

Professional Development: You’ve Got Options

campbell crop Capture

Frequently, we think of professional development for ourselves and for our staff as an option or worse, a luxury. It’s something we do if and when there’s sufficient staffing, enough money in the training and travel budget, and of course, there can’t be a lot of work stacked up at the office. Oh sure, there’s the required training from Human Resources or the like, but too often, the purpose and benefits of professional development aren’t clearly understood by an organization. Sometimes it’s viewed as a reward for a job well done, or, alternately, a punishment for poor performance. Can it really be both? There are a number of methods available—many without cost—to develop ourselves as well as those individuals who work for us.

  1. Take a class. Attend a seminar, workshop, or a one-day training. Look for an online class that’s relevant to your job or your career goals. Take a big step and go back to school.
  2. Look for Mentors. Who has a career you’re interested in? Who has the position you aspire to? Talk to them about their career path. How did they get there? Most people are willing and even eager to help others achieve their professional goals. Find someone willing to help you.
  3. Network with peers. Take the time to meet and talk with others in your field. Getting to know your peers and better understand their knowledge and experience can be invaluable to your growth. Networking allows you the chance to learn from peers and mentors. Who do you know who may help you to not reinvent the wheel at every turn? Talk to a peer about the pros and cons of a particular business solution you’ve been considering. I guarantee you’ll discover that you’re not alone in dealing with specific technology upgrades or identifying different methods to accomplish the tasks you’re responsible for.
  4. Attend a conference. You may be visiting a lovely city, convention center, or hotel, but remember to make the program sessions the priority. Review the session descriptions being offered in advance. Attend the educational sessions. Spend time with vendors and consultants to learn about new products and services. Learn new skills and make new contacts. Even if you’ve attended for many years, there’s always something new to learn. Make a point of meeting at least one new colleague each time.
  5. Identify other learning resources and opportunities: Read a book, an article, a blog. Watch a TED talk. Join an industry listserv. Teach yourself a new skill.  The internet is full of tutorials on just about anything you want to learn about. Research a topic and present it to your team at work, no matter what level you serve within the organization. Share that “pearl of wisdom” you discovered in a book you read or a training you attended. Have a cup of coffee with someone you believe has something great to teach you about the work that you do, how to excel in your career, or even just how to be a better human.

Every one of us has something to teach and something to learn. As you consider your options, remember that professional development requires two things: internal motivation and taking that first step. It requires action on our part.

Cleveland Clinic CARES About Parking Symposium: Oct. 28-29

2015 symposium logo

We invite you to join us for the 3rd Annual Cleveland Clinic CARES About Parking Symposium,held in cooperation with the International Parking Institute (IPI) and Parking Solutions, Inc. This year’s event will take place October 28 and 29 at the InterContinental Hotel and Convention Center located on the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus in Cleveland, Ohio.2015 symposium logo

What began in 2013 as the award winning Cleveland Clinic Parking Services Team sharing its innovative CARES model (Customer Experience, Available Parking, Responsible Finance, Engaged Employees, Sustainable Business), has transformed into a highly interactive event where healthcare professionals from all over the world come together and network, initiate dynamic discussions, share best practices, and more.

This year’s theme is Driving ForwardUsing Technology, Data, and Best Practices to Improve Your Transportation and Parking Operations. Hospitals and parking organizations from all over the country will be attending and sharing their best practices and lessons learned related to this year’s theme.

Here are a few of this year’s highlights:

  • Keynote speaker: Gordon M. Snow, Cleveland Clinic Chief of Protective Services.
  • Guest speakers include representatives from:
    • IPI’s Technology Committee.
    • The Cleveland Clinic.
    • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
    • Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
    • Lehigh Valley Health Network.
    • Oregon Health & Science University.
    • More to be announced soon.
    • Topics will include Cyber Security Threats, Valet Successes, Valet Parking Technology, Transportation Management Planning, Commute Trip Reduction Laws, Alternative Modes of Transportation, Patient Experience, Shuttle Bus Conversion from Diesel Fuel to Natural Gas, Managing Employee Expectations, Ambassador Services, Shuttle Bus Technology, License Plate Recognition, and Inventory Management, and more!
      • The parking services team at the Cleveland Clinic Parking Services operates 44,000 spaces, 11 garages, 116 surface lots, 50,000 internal customers and 24 valet locations. They were awarded the 2013 Silver Award from the Partnership for Excellence (Malcom Baldridge State Level Program). This award is the nations highest honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. The mission of Cleveland Clinic Parking Services is to provide safe and convenient parking while constantly seeking innovations that enhance quality and service, operating fiscally responsible, and contributing to a healthy environment.

We are very excited about this year’s event and hope you can join us. Please visit info.parkingsolutionsinc.com/cares to learn more and register for the event.

Contact me directly at robinsonj@parkingsolutionsinc.com or 614.453.1507 with any questions.

 

Guest Blogger Jeremy Robinson is marketing manager with Parking Solutions, Inc.

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.

Group Listening

cropped2014

Research can really help guide decision-making. You may have done some formal or informal marketing research for your organization. Easy access to SurveyMonkey and other online surveying tools have made polls a snap, though I feel strongly that without the assist of a bona fide marketing research expert, questions can be poorly worded or worded to invite bias and result in useless or erroneous results (but that’s a post for another day).

Years ago, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was a client of mine when I worked for the Washington, D.C. advertising/public relations agency Henry J. Kaufman & Associates.Sullivan post graphic

My wonderful FTC client liaison, Nancy Sachs, and I became good friends during a stretch of years when we developed public service announcements to help educate consumers about everything from the FTC’s Funeral Rule to buying used cars. Before each campaign, we did marketing research that included conducting focus groups with eight to 12 people.

These two-hour sessions were carefully moderated by a professional marketing researcher and recorded. Focus group rooms are generally equipped with two-way mirrors so ad agency personnel can watch without becoming a distraction (with full disclosure, of course).

What great entertainment–and so enlightening– to hear people express their feelings on a topic that matters to you or your cause.

Here’s the point: Listening—not just reading results, but really listening–is very valuable when it comes to customers and others you want to reach or serve.

What made me think of this today? I am sitting at gate C in Terminal A at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. I’m at an eatery that features at each station an iPad with menu, a plug to charge my phone, and a credit card swipe. From this vantage point I can see my gate which is only about 40 feet away. There must be at least 60 of these stations in this central gate area and travelers are digging it! I charged my phone, ordered breakfast, watched CNN, swiped my credit card to pay, collected a receipt, and was on my way.

Someone did some really good thinking to develop this system and my guess is some good focus-grouping was part of it.

What would bringing together a group of your community, customers, tenants, patrons, students, faculty, staff, or other stakeholders do for your organization?

Mission, Vision, and Values

Mark D Napier

Most organizations have a mission statement. Why? Because that’s what we read in some management text. It might appear on a poster in the lobby or be included as part of an annual report. However, the employees do not see it or the value in embodying it and after the tedious nature of drafting it, administrators pay it little attention. A mission statement alone is practically worthless past the organizational window-dressing it provides.

Imagine your organization as a car on a road. Mission only tells the vehicle in which direction to point. Vision is the gas in the gas tank. Vision inspires. Every meaningful thing in human history has occurred as the result of vision, not mission. Values define the boundaries of the roadway. They serve as guideposts for how we move forward. They have to be real and exercised and must be alive in the organization, both internally and externally. We cannot expect our people to value our customers if we do not value our people.

The message here is simple: To have a high-functioning organization you have to possess mission, vision, and values. Of these, the one of the greatest importance is vision. It is also the one most often absent. Most organizations that are idling on the road are essentially going nowhere because their leadership has not put gas in the gas tank (vision).

Generating vision is hard work. It is work that cannot be done by memorandum, a cool poster on a wall, or by good intention. Leadership must get out from behind the desk and speak about vision frequently and passionately. Why do we exist? Why are we special? Why is what we do important? Where are we going? Inspired people can do amazing things.

Ensure you have all three elements to make your organization the best it can be. People will generally not act in a manner that is incongruent with their vision of themselves. Craft that vision and watch your organization excel.

Just Listen

Jeff Petry

The main parking line rings at my desk and I grab the calls when my co-worker, Heidi, is away. Our parking calls are the norm–where to purchase a parking permit, how to pay for a parking ticket, or inquiring whether a permit is available at an address in our residential permit program. Two of today’s phone calls, however, were cause for reflection and a reminder to just listen and enjoy every day:

  • Confused about jurisdictions: A resident called to complain about a vehicle stored on the street. We always lead with going to our website to report the stored vehicle to educate the public that this option is available any time and the information feeds directly into our officers’ smartphones to respond to the complaint. The resident was good with going online to fill out the information for stored vehicles. He had a second question, however, about a vehicle parked at the end of his cul de sac. My parking sensors immediately perked up, sensing that this may be a private road where the city does not have the authority to enforce the parking code. I checked the address in our geographic information system (GIS) database and sure enough, it was a private road; the development’s staff will have to address the issue.  Resident was not happy with this jurisdiction-shifting response but it was a private road. Since I was in the GIS database, I double checked the jurisdiction of the first complaint of a stored vehicle. Sure enough, the road segment was county managed and the city has no authority to enforce the parking code. Resident was not happy, again. The phone call concluded with a typical set of comments about government, jurisdictions, and overall confusion. This phone call has re-energized me to engage the county staff to see if an intergovernmental agreement can reached whereby the city can enforce storage/abandoned vehicle complaints on county property located within the City of Eugene’s boundaries in effort to better serve our community.
  • Survival Story: My second phone call was about 20 minutes long.  We enforce the storage on the street code on a complaint basis throughout the city. A woman had received our notice and needed to move her vehicle within 72 hours. She was upset that she was picked on because other vehicles on her street that don’t move were not issued the same warning. She asked why? Before I could respond, she began to elaborate: Her husband shot her in the head several years ago, she is trying to get by on disability, and her dog is being treated for cancer. Wow! After a big pause, I explained the program was complaint-based. She was satisfied with the response. I then noted that she was an inspiration and a survivor and I hoped she could enjoy the sunlight of this day. Listening to hear story and sharing my true admiration for her determination seemed to shift the conversation away from parking negativity to end on a truly positive note.

These two phone calls reaffirmed that parking can create a better community by removing confusion of government layers and that sometimes, it’s our job to just listen and provide positive affirmation of our individual community members.

Customer Disservice: A True Tale

Kim_Fernandez_March2015

Once upon a time, there was an insurance company that courted a family for its business. “We’re guided by values,” the company said. “We’re grounded in outstanding service, financial expertise, high morals, and genuine concern for your well-being.” The family was charmed and the two enjoyed a lovely relationship for several generations.

After a long and happy life, one of the family members passed away and his descendants contacted the company, which offered its deepest condolences and immediately processed all of the accounts except one. A family member reached out about that last issue and spoke with a very nice gentleman, who sent forms that were filled out according to his direction and submitted … and returned to the family three weeks later for a technical mistake.

Now, this technical problem ran contrary to what the man on the phone had said and didn’t make a whole lot of sense, so a member of the family called again, was told the original form was the wrong one, and that a new form would come by mail. That form, sadly, never arrived, and so the family member called again.

And again.

And again.

Believe it or not, she called seven different times, spoke with seven different people, and got seven different answers as to what she should do about the policy-in-limbo; one of the answers was, “I don’t even know why they sent you to me—I don’t work in that department.” None of these answers had anything to do with a second form.

Finally, the family member lost her patience and called a higher-up at the company, who gave her yet another answer—this one involving jumping through several flaming hoops that no one else had mentioned. The family member voiced her frustration and suggested perhaps more training or a better manual was warranted in the service department, as eight different answers to eight different calls on one question seemed excessive.

“We don’t have a training problem,” huffed the director. So the family member shook her head, thanked the director for her time, hung up, and called back to speak with someone one step up the corporate ladder, who didn’t return calls for two days. That led to a call to someone just one rung beneath the very top of the company’s pyramid. That person was (finally) both authorized to take action on the initial problem (the ninth time being the charm, of course) and surprised her customer service people, through no fault of their own, couldn’t do their jobs. No one, she said, had ever reached out to tell her.

The moral of the story: Customer service training really matters. Are you sure yours is working?