Why I Love Parking


Why I Love Parking

I don’t think I ever really loved parking – Joe Sciulli, CAPP

Just reflecting, but I don’t think I ever really loved parking. I LOVE airplanes! But second to that, I like helping people — A LOT. 

Short of being a flight attendant (which crossed my mind when I was thinking about leaving the Air Force), parking has been a great way to help people. Managers and supervisors. Analysts. Program directors. But especially, PEOs.

So, you ask: how and why do I like helping these folks? 

With the managers and supervisors, showing them how to gather and use information that helps reduce their “wheel-spinning” is very rewarding. Making it easier for them to make sense of all the reports and data they receive on a daily basis, and to help them zero in on performance issues, is quite satisfying in and of itself.

And with the PEOs, it is the satisfaction I feel by helping them realize their work isn’t just about the numbers, or issuing a certain number of tickets. To put it crudely – forgive me – they’re not just out there “turning tricks for the man” (translation: simply raising money for the city or university). 

 When PEOs come to believe they’re actually serving a public good, as they did in a PEO refresher program that was planned and executed by the PPA’s Rick Dickson and me many moons ago,  when that “light” comes on and is realized by a grizzled veteran or a young PEO – it’s the BEST!

And what of helping program directors? Well, laying out a plan that addresses big hurdles in a strategic manner, whether day to day operational fires or financial challenges, is rewarding just as much. 

So, maybe I do love parking after all: not as an “industry” per se, but because it’s a way to help well-meaning, hard-working people make their work lives a little bit easier, a little more rewarding. Beats being a flight attendant, after all.

Parking people are smart, gritty, resourceful, conscientious, but above all, NICE – Brian Wolff

As a relative newcomer to the industry, there are two big reasons why I LOVE parking. To me, it’s about the people and the technological transformation taking place around us. 

Before I arrived on the parking scene in 2015, I had an image of parking people in my head. That was, being generous, a collection of people operating in the shadows of giant concrete structures, running their business on wit and guile. The wit and guile impression certainly has remained – parking people are smart, gritty, resourceful, conscientious, but above all – NICE.

In fact, for the first year I was in parking, I would return home from every business trip and gush to Jill about how genuinely nice parking people are. I recall spending time with many, many parking people, like Rick Serra and Craig Barber from Allpro; Matt Adey and Chuck Stills at Platinum Parking; Tom Carter at Toledo Ticket and Doug Manning at IUPUI, and comparing them to all of the people I had interacted with in the IT and life sciences industries. The simple truth was that parking people were nicer AND just as hard-charging and savvy, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that you could be nice and win the race! 

The second reason I love parking is because I have a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to shape the digital transformation of parking, using the lessons I learned when I participated in the digital transformation of “cloud computing” in the early 2000s. When we started our technology business in 2006, the term “cloud” had not yet entered the mainstream and, like Parking Today, you could feel the excitement and angst of a changing business model. 

I recall the journey being one-part missionary (where people shoot at you) and one-part evangelist (where others stare at you, wondering what you’re talking about). Parking feels very much like this to me. We can do things today in parking that we’ve never done before, like pay for parking with our phones, see available parking spaces in real-time and even avoid parking altogether using alternative mobility modes of transportation. 

The key for continued success and prosperity is that we must not lose the “nice” that helped us get to this place, while we allow technology to transform how we do it! I look forward to many more years of interacting with the nicest people on the planet and leading the industry through this time of tremendous technological change.

Parking is about establishing key partnerships with forward-thinking professionals – Juan Rodriguez

It’s interesting how I came to be involved in the parking industry and learned to love it. Daniela Diaz, my co-founder’s wife, was expressing her frustrations around the traditional way of requesting and paying for valet while using valet services, and that sparked an idea. The seed for what would become our company was planted: cloud-based, mobile-first valet technology that enabled you to request your car, pay the fee, and even tip the valet driver from your mobile phone.

I am thrilled about what the future holds for all of us here in the parking industry. Parking assets are poised, physically, at the center of the mobility revolution, and parking professionals, if they so choose, can play a vital role in this revolution. However, to transform parking assets into mobility hubs that meet modern needs and unlock the full potential of the smart city will require operators and asset owners to reassess their roles in the mobility ecosystem. Parking is about establishing key partnerships with forward-thinking professionals to bring that future to life. It’s such an exciting time to be a part of transforming the industry.

Parking: It’s a little simile for life. – Melissa Bean Sterzick

I love parking, but I don’t love parking. I know that’s contradictory, but I think there are different aspects to the activity that go by the same name, and I have different feelings about each.

I don’t love the physical act of parking. It feels like an almost endless task. Looking around, circling the lot, pulling in, backing up, in and out, sharp turns and tight corners. I get tired.

But I love the practice of parking because it makes me think about life, humanity and my own priorities and values.

Just the other day I stopped in my lane, turned on my blinker, and waited patiently for another parker to move out of a space so I could pull in. I was in position and my signal was an obvious declaration. Regardless, another driver, one with a slightly more advantageous angle on the opening, looked me in the eye and took my spot. I was angry. I wanted to get out of my and throw some punches. (This was sometime during the holiday season, and I might have been a bit overstressed.) 

But still, she saw me, ignored my blinker and took my parking space. Maybe physical violence wasn’t appropriate, but a conversation seemed necessary. I needed to educate this woman on how to tell when another driver has laid claim to a parking spot. And she needed to know I had certainly seen that spot before she did and it was most definitely mine.

All of this happened in seconds. My daughters were in the car. I had a few breaths to take in the situation and move past it. And that is what I did. Anger quickly turned to annoyance. Annoyance quickly turned to indifference. Another spot opened up nearby. There was no confrontation. My kids were unaware of my brief moment of rage, and all was well. I call that a victory.

I’m not going to make excuses for this person. I don’t care if she was in a hurry or mistaken about my intentions. What I care about is that I had an opportunity to follow my better angels – and I did.

That’s what I love about parking. It’s a little simile for life. There’s always a chance to choose – not a spot, but an attitude. If I’m in a rush to find parking, I can choose to stay calm and trust the process. If a parking lot is crowded, I can choose patience and optimism. If I use parking technology and have an easy, straightforward experience, I acknowledge my gratitude. If I park in a huge garage and get back to my car without difficulty, I call myself a genius. If I find the perfect spot without even trying, I look around me and bless the whole world.

I even love the parking customer! – Hugh Kierig

When John asked me “What I Love About Parking”, it gave me pause. You see, I’m a city planner and transit guy by training working for both municipal, university, and charter bus operations and was only thrown into parking by my affiliation with three universities. As a transit planner working on intermodal transportation facilities, I dealt with parking only to the extent the project may include a garage or large park and ride element. Parking for me during a good portion of my professional life was an afterthought, not a life passion. 

So, what do I love about parking? I could say dealing with students complaining about parking citations, or parents complaining about their student’s parking citations. But that would be dishonest. I could mention that I enjoyed dealing with campus planners that viewed surface lots as a future building site with no further accommodation to replace the lost spaces. The truth is, that part of parking was very frustrating. 

What I do love about parking is how the industry has evolved from just a parking supplier to instead understanding the impact of parking in the built environment. Advances in recent years regarding aesthetics and design to parking facilities have helped to make them an integral part of the landscape, environmentally sensitive, and more secure. 

I also love the way the parking industry has striven constantly to understand customers and their needs by incorporating technology into new and exciting services. We have grown, in a short period,  the parking meter to technologies that allow a customer to pay for parking in advance of arrival, manage parking choices, and provide valuable information regarding lot capacity and use.

Finally, I do love the people involved in parking. The parking professional is just that, a professional that is service oriented and to a person, has the best interest of the parking customer in mind. I know, there are frustrations in dealing with those that choose to park under their own terms but, for the most part the parking customers park where they should, pay their fees, and understand the parking dilemma we know and they face. I even love the parking customer!

Parking Friends Become Family – Todd Tucker

It is probably one of the least common sentences in the world – “Why do you love parking?” It’s just not a typical statement in most settings around the bulk majority of society worldwide. Ironically, I personally possess many answers to this question, despite its rarity and uniqueness. When JVH asked this question of me before the new year, my mind flooded with responses. Here are a few of them:

1- Community Nothing is more rewarding in this life than finding a sense of community, and the parking, mobility, and transportation space is so very conducive to that end. Drawn by our mutual interests, and amplified by the uniqueness of our business and the relatively small size of it all compared to other businesses, it doesn’t take long for work acquaintances to start feeling like friends. With the passage of enough time and bloodshed in the trenches together, these friends quickly become family. That is our strong and active community. Have you not found this for yourself yet? You are not trying hard enough. 

2- Intersectionality A significant number of impressive, world-changing improvements our society has discovered has been primarily due to intersectionality. This simply means the convergence of very different ideas from varied subject matter sources that are not necessarily intuitive at first glance. Innovation is the product of combination. Innovation is usually not a singular flash of divine providence, but the accumulation of varying ideas and perspectives over time. The inventor of the printing press took inspiration from the wine industry and currency manufacturing. The modern assembly line was modeled through observation of the meatpacking industry. Darwin’s discoveries of natural selection were heavily influenced by economics and have re-influenced modern economic theories subsequently. 

Flash Parking just hired someone from Tesla and Coca Cola. Arrive has hired executives from Groupon. SP+ brought in new talent from Orbitz. The intersection of other academic disciplines with the parking and mobility space will deliver incredible advancements for not only our industry, but the world. This is an exciting place to be and another reason I love the parking space. Every day is a new adventure, there is no monotony to our industry if you only look a little harder. Collaboration is the key ingredient to innovation and the parking and mobility space is ripe with the opportunity to collaborate. 

Parking, a feeling of home – Astrid Ambroziak

Over Christmas 2019 vacation I was privileged to read the latest novel by Ann Patchett, The Dutch House. At one point in the book Danny Conroy, the narrator, says: “I thought that the feeling of home I was experiencing had to do with the car and where it was parked …” 

This line made me think why I love parking. I never thought that the feeling of home had to do with where I park. But to me it does. Which is paradoxical in my case, since I don’t like driving. Yet, lately, driving is not that bad. Especially since Uber no longer picks up passengers on the curb at LAX. Thus, driving and then parking vs dealing with shuttles is more palpable to me. 

Parking does feel like home to me just as then 15-year-old Danny Conroy experienced. I don’t like driving, but I appreciate arriving and parking is that arriving. I get anxiety being stuck in traffic. Often, when I drive to the office, and 12-mile car ride in Los Angeles takes an hour and half, and I finally park in the subterranean garage, I feel I am home. I made it. Mission accomplished. 

When I go on my shopping adventures in Beverly Hills, when I park in a parking garage on Rodeo Drive, I feel easing of any tensions. I feel as if the adventure is about to begin. I feel certain triumph and at the same time calmness, that I found a great parking spot for my car. I can walk the beautiful streets, but my home away from home is nearby. It gives me comfort. It makes me feel home. 

Because the feeling of home is that calmness inside of me. The calmness comes from accomplishing small goals as part of daily journey of things being done. When I take a ride share to my destination that calmness is amiss. I am not the captain of my ship. Yet, when I park, the calmness appears. My car gives me independence. Parking my car gives me a sense of safety and inner peace. It gives me home. 

When landing at the LAX, instead of taking a shuttle to the ride share lot, taking it to a garage where I parked my car makes me feel as if I am almost home, if not home. The physical home might be some miles away, yet, my parked car is my home away from home. I got here wherever here is in that moment and I can rest a bit. I am at peace. And peace to me is happiness and home sweet home.

I am blessed to be working in parking –
Carmen Donnell

The word ‘love’ and ‘parking’ very rarely are included in the same sentence… It typically brings up feelings of frustrating, missed expectations, entitlements and grudge payments, and sometimes downright anger and hate! However, for me it has been different. 

Parking has given me the opportunity to perform a variety of enjoyable tasks under one role, which is often unusual. I am involved in learning new products, technologies and challenges every day. In each of my roles to date I have been able to work creatively to solve some of these said challenges. I also get to interact with a variety clients and colleagues about so many different topics; it keeps life interesting! I can travel to see new parking environments and become more empathetic to my clients’ needs and pain points. 

Coupled with the ability to perform some of my job from my home office, it has provided a great life balance for myself and my family. I am also blessed to be working for a company that provides an easier way for people to pay for parking [that grudge payment I was talking about] so I feel good about the public service I am doing in an industry that is not generally viewed as friendly to the public! I look forward to continuing to do what I can to make our industry better and will enjoy each minute of it along the way.

The parking love affair – Jordan Weiner 

Finding parking is sometimes a daunting task, whether it’s a space on the street or a slot in a parking structure. There is an anticipation, followed by moments of wishful thinking, positive thinking and a fait accompli train of thought. You round that last corner, or find yourself pulling into a parking structure, filled with hope, telling yourself, “you got this, you are magic today and the perfect spot will open up”. 

And then, there it is, that moment when the stars align, the gods have graced you and all your prayers have been answered. You pull in, or you park, with a smile and secret knowing that you are special, and may even go buy a lotto ticket! And then, the cherry on top of the parking Sundae, is when you approach the meter and it has ample time on it!  

Life is good and I love parking.

The key in our parking “love affair” is satisfaction for all partners – Bob Harkins

If you are reading this magazine, chances are you are involved with the parking industry. While the casual parker may not know that there is a “Parking Industry,” those of us involved and/or working in “parking” know and have a special love for the simple event of parking. Maybe because we love chaos and/or moving parts. However, it is always good to step back and understand our connection. 

Generally, parking is associated with our customer’s job, shopping, or it may be a special event such as a football game, or concert. To most of our customers, the act of parking a vehicle is routine or even robotic. If we, in the business, do our job correctly, the act of parking is barely noticed in the customer’s daily routine. Parking has come a long way from the old “cigar box” days. We have developed the technology to allow the vehicle driver to know, when they begin a trip, what route to take and in which parking facility they have a reserved space. 

 Swift and convenient parking is now the norm because we have leveraged technology to make the process easy. The routine of parking should be linked with the highway system and road network of the surrounding area. Mass transit is permanently associated with parking facilities to help solve the last mile issues. Public and private parking operators should work, as key players, in the development and vitality of a downtown work or shopping district. 

As in any relationship, parking staff and owners must be careful not to assume that everything is “ok” and ignore the other partner’s needs in the relationship. Our foremost partner is the customer. Customer service is absolutely critical to successful parking operations. All of our actions and policies should be focused on how to make using the parking facility easier and more friendly. 

We have a responsibility to provide a clean, safe, and inviting facility or parking lot. Bright lighting, and an understandable “Way Finding” system is critical to the ease and success of all parking operations. As parking staff and operators hone customer service operations, they also must ensure that there is sufficient emphasis and published procedures with basic cash and credit card protection. 

The key in our parking “love affair” is satisfaction for all partners. It is true that we have come a long way; however, each and every day we must be at our best. In the parking world, all of us must do what we can do to enhance customer service and welcome our life’s blood, our customers, to our facilities.

I enjoy the Technology – Nathan Donnell

I’m sure most will agree with me when I say I didn’t dream of working in the parking industry when I was growing up. I wanted to be a marine biologist, fireman, Olympic swimmer, or an architect. The closest I came to one of those professions was a fireman. I was a registered EMT by the time I was 19 years old, but realized it was a very competitive market and I had bills to pay. 

A family friend was able to get me a job at Anheuser-Busch where I spent almost 10 years delivering and selling beer. I was the Budman! It was a great job, but I had young children and I wanted to be home with them at night instead of being at the bars working, so I started looking for a new job. 

A good friend of mine owned an access control company and wanted to start selling PARCS equipment. He approached me with the idea, and I thought how hard could it be to sell ticket spitters and gates? I quickly realized it was much more than that and I enjoyed the technology that ran the equipment. Then and there I was hooked! 

The people I’ve met and worked with over the last fifteen years have been an amazing experience. Seeing how the technology has changed and continues to do so is exciting, and I’m proud to be a part of the growth in this industry. 

When I started in this industry, hardware was king. Today, software-driven services have moved to the forefront. Cities, universities, and operators are using the latest product offerings to increase efficiency with the use of data collected by the latest tech. Who knows what future technology will bring, but I’m looking forward to continuing my professional career in the parking industry – wherever it may lead.

I love parking because we make a difference –
Julie Dixon

I love parking because we make a difference. I have the opportunity to visit parking programs across the country and, sometimes, I feel like the parking advocate or spokesman for parking. There are so many forecasts and ideas about what is going to happen in the future, but I have the opportunity to deal with the reality of today and I love it. I appreciate the distraction of what is to come, but we can’t overlook the impact of the now. Don’t get me wrong, we must try to ‘futureproof,’ but first we need to untangle what is currently happening on the street.

Parking has an impact, and often we inherit the negative perceptions of the parking issues that have evolved within a community. It’s not always easy and frequently I must face a room of stakeholders with their pitchforks and torches, but that’s the challenge and I love a good challenge! I enjoy following the thread and getting to the root cause of the issues and I always take the opportunity to educate and inform the brethren. I love it when the simplest ideas are acknowledged and implemented and have the greatest impact. 

This is the first job in my career where I know that I am having an impact and making a difference. I love experiencing the transformation and, most important, converting the naysayers to supporters. I love when I walk through the downtown and restaurants and shop owners and employees will come outside and say ‘hey, you’re the parking lady – thank you’. It really does happen, and I proudly wear this label.

I am the parking lady and they know that we work every day to try to improve their parking experience, implementing technology to make parking simple, easy and accessible and seeking transportation alternatives that can mitigate traffic and parking congestion. 

The evolution of our industry has changed so much over the last decade. I love learning about the latest concepts and innovative ideas. Even more, I love working with, piloting, and testing these innovations and helping to make them a reality. The diversity of opportunity is abundant, and I love what I do. There is no doubt that I love parking. 

Why I Love Parking

By Jeff Nethery at Flowbird

I did not receive the email from John Van Horn, because he probably does not know who I am

Or perhaps his request ended up in the email folder with all of the consultant’s spam

But a forwarded copy arrived from a coworker as a hint that I should profess my adoration

Of the parking business that has been the love of my life, and deserves a brief narration

A four-hundred-word limit does not allow me to properly express my appreciation and respect

For the greatest industry in the world, with new technology being my favorite sect

From a part-time college job as a parking attendant, to an international parking career

I am blessed with many great colleagues, but it’s the customers I truly revere

Like the customer who gets their car impounded for violating rules they said they did not know

Despite prior written warnings and the large metal clamp attached to the wheel of their Volvo

We love the citation appeal expert who takes photos of their parked vehicle and missing regulatory sign

Then writes a letter to the mayor about a broken parking meter and continues to rant and whine 

Or the tailgater at football game who thinks they can take up three spaces and half of the aisle for free

And the drunk fan who pukes in the trashcan and can’t wait in line at the porta-potty to pee

We love the customer who expects parking to be free, even if the merchant did not validate

Then puts their car in park until we agree to open the gate

Or the thrifty parking lot owner who bought one pay station ten years ago to manage a huge parking lot 

And doesn’t believe in preventative maintenance, but expects the technician to be there on the spotThen claims loss of revenue and believes a parts warranty should cover labor, too

And complains about the invoice and thinks his decade-old meter should still work like new

We also love the parking operator who likes to change rates almost every day

Crunching data and running reports to determine how much each customer should pay

It’s Donald Shoup’s fault, of course, for writing the bible on improving utilization

We mostly love that The High Cost of Free Parking has created more paid parking across this great nation

NIKE Had it Wrong – Jeff Pinyot

Three guys sharing one room in a Holiday Inn on Highland Avenue near Hollywood Blvd. What sounds like a movie script and a nightmare all in one was really the most amazing start to what continues to be the fulfillment of a prophesy. It was just two years earlier that I received a phone call at 6 AM on a Friday morning. 

Assuming the worst, a parent had died, or whatever, the call shocked me. It was a client name Dave. Dave and I knew each other because I sold products to him, but we weren’t 6 AM kind of friends. I quickly asked Dave what was up. Dave said, “You tell me.” Not sure what he meant, I said, “You called me.” He said, “I was having my quiet time with the Lord, and he told me to call you.” He continued, “He said, call Jeff Pinyot. Tell Jeff that whatever he is about to do, JUST DO IT, I’ve got your back.” I was stunned. Dave said, “What’s going on?” I said, “I plan on resigning my position on Monday.” He said, “Why wait till Monday, quit today!”

Hollywood was our first parking trade show with our new light fixture. With little money and no VC group supporting us, just our mortgages, we knew for sure that God did in fact have our back when our tight budgeted trio went from battling the crappy air conditioning unit in our moldy hotel room, passing the same homeless guy each day on the way to the venue, to winning $20,000 in the PII raffle. My partners asked, “What do we do with the money?” I said, “Take out what it cost to attend the show and expenses and give the rest back to the charity.” I said, “If we need to win a raffle to be successful in this industry, we had better pick a different business.” We went on to win that same raffle three times in four years. It almost seemed like it was rigged. We never kept a penny after the first one, always giving 100 percent of it back. 

Like Al Gore claims that he invented the Internet, Nike thinks it was them that created the slogan, JUST DO IT. Problem is, they only got half of the slogan right, they forgot the important part, I’VE GOT YOUR BACK!

God, I love Parking. 

Article contributed by the Parking PT team.
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