A Rising Tide…


A Rising Tide…

Does a rising tide REALLY raise all boats? When JFK speechwriter Ted Sorenson was looking for something to help sell the then senators economic policies in Massachusetts, he borrowed the concept from a local chamber of commerce. In fact, on the ocean a rising tide does raise all boats, but sometimes those not tethered properly will wind up on the rocks. After all, companies do fail in booming economies.
One might say “so what.” How do my actions affect the parking industry? I’m just a small cog in a big wheel. I’m not sure that’s true.

“Rising tide raises all boats” is more than a trite saying, it’s an attitude.
A friend of mine in the industry mentioned that his company attended a trade show that was out of our industry – “We got more leads than we get at the IPI, NPA, or PIE combined.” I said ‘Wow – I’m going to look into that and see if we can get others to participate in it.”

“NO!” he shouted. “We want to be the only ones there.”

His attitude was that he wanted to keep this trade show a secret. It might help his company, but he didn’t want to help the others. As it turns out, the trade show is huge. 50,000 people attend it from all over the world, representing thousands of potential customers. There is no way his small company could come close to servicing that segment of the market.

But if the idea was shared, a large number of companies in the parking industry would benefit. They would grow, the potential market size would increase, and everyone would profit, including my friend. The tide would raise all the boats that were in the water.

How do organizations that find you as a member affect the boats and tide? Do they look only inward, at their members and the programs they set up for the membership, or do the reach outward, to the entire industry, providing information, programs, and training that benefit everyone, not just their membership.

The British Parking Association runs two national programs that benefit the entire country. One, the ParkMark program, sets up criteria for a safe parking garage (lighting, security, cleanliness, etc) and then rates garages that want to participate. They also have a training program for traffic wardens (those who issue parking tickets) run by the organization, but taught by local junior colleges. In many local authorities, you can’t become a traffic warden in the UK without taking the course.

So what does all this have to do with tides and boats?

The BPA is prospering. They membership is growing. The industry sees that they make a difference. By reaching out and involving nonmembers, they increased their membership and at the same time are helping the industry as a whole. They work WITH other organizations and the media. They involved everyone in their events and are involved in others. When the local independent parking magazine, Parking Review, held its British Parking Awards, the BPA was one of the major sponsors.

What I want is for everyone in our industry to prosper – I want the organizations to have large memberships, the vendors to make big profits, and everyone to be successful.

To do that we need to work as a team. We need to involve all the People of Parking to inject life and energy into all aspects of the industry.

How? You say… How about the IPI and NPA have a meeting where the two groups talk about how to work together. Not combine the organizations, but how they can participate in common tide raising programs. There is no need to combine the two groups, they have different goals and different membership bases. But in the end, doesn’t each organization really have the same goals, to raise the tide, and all our boats floating in it.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

3 Responses

  1. John, you are absolutely right that all the Parking Associations and its members need to work together and with many other stakeholders to improve, and develop the profile and role of parking across the world.

    I know from my dealings many parking associations are virtually unknown outside the core businesses they represent and this is bad news for the industry overall.

    Take my brief Google research today on trying to find some information on the organisations representing the US parking: IPI I looked until page 17 and gave up as I could not find it. NPA was a lot better but still took me 4 pages to find it. PIE did not fair much better at page 11th.

    Why should that be? here in the UK the BPA is on page 1 fourth on the list. Even a one person organisation like mine Mr. Parking Consultancy is listed on page 2

    Your analogy of rising tides and boats, remind me of Jimmy Dean the American country singer, television host, actor, businessman and creator of the Jimmy Dean sausage brand who famously once said:

    I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

  2. It’s great to read your comments John and validation for the work that the BPA do in striving to raise standards and promote professionalism.

    We understand the benefits of building relationships with those who can help us achieve our goals and where we can add value to their objectives as well.

    Technology is playing an ever increasing role in our lives and the parking profession is no different. But to fully understand its impact and what it means for our members in the future, we know that we must work with others in different sectors who, although they might have different challenges, can provide expertise and ideas for meeting and dealing with those challenges.

    Openness and transparency breaks down barriers and creates possibilities. Sharing knowledge and experiences helps make things easier and gets things done quicker. We welcome collaborative working and are proud of the initiatives we have developed to help make parking better for everyone – thanks for noticing!

  3. John – when you find Santa Claus let me know. I’d love to see some collaboration between the two organizations, hell between some of the global players too. But egos and strong willed personalities will keep that from happening – I guarantee it.

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