Time for a Spring Tune-up
By Katie Mattes
The arrival of spring is especially welcome to those of us in parking. Good-bye, wintry weather and snow-removal equipment and ice melt. Hello, warm breezes and sunshine! Spring is a great time for parking professionals to check in on goals for the year:
Spring-clean your parking facilities. After a messy winter, parking facilities usually need some TLC. Perform a power-sweeping. Do deep cleaning of heavily used customer areas. After the grit and chemicals are gone, do a thorough assessment of your facility, with an eye toward maintenance needs.
Put away “the winter.” This includes putting away equipment in good working order. Perhaps more important, make good notes about what worked and did not work during the just-ended snow season. In parking, we all know that “snow” does not always mean “snow.” All it takes is a slight variation to wreak havoc on plans. (Sleet and freezing rain, anyone?) Make good notes so you know what you need next year. Include a realistic assessment of your vendors. Lining up next winter’s “snow team” is only about six months away.
Take a walk around. Parking is geographically specific. It’s only relevant to a customer if it’s near their destination. Are new businesses opening or closing near your parking facility? How does your facility compare with other nearby parking options?
Branch out. PIE 2015, for example, kicked off the busy national parking industry conference season – which is great opportunity for networking with other parking professionals and sharing ideas. To get the most out of your conference time, consider making a list of problems you’d like to solve and then use that as guide for navigating the vendor hall and education sessions.
Plant some seeds. Do you have a parking property that could do more? Think ahead to future needs, which can be as simple as reviewing a calendar of upcoming events in your community where parking is needed. Consider what you can do to get customers to choose your parking facility. Better signs? Add a parking
Check the numbers. Whether we like it or not, spring means taxes. Before closing the books on the annual tax return, take some time to review your numbers. What do you want to improve this year? Any areas that require monitoring to ensure continued performance or mitigate risk? This activity can be done on both your personal and business returns. Use your observations to set measurable goals for the year.
Update your look. The best fashions are memorable and convey the image that you choose. Does your website convey the image you want for your business? Are your parking properties appealing to customers? Don’t forget your personal image, too. Make sure your LinkedIn profile and other online profiles convey your qualifications and effectiveness as a parking professional.
Put on some new shoes – figuratively, that is. Do you know the challenges of your parking customers? What “problem” does your parking location solve for your customers? Taking some time to put yourself in someone else’s shoes can yield business intelligence for differentiating your parking facility from the competition.
For example: a business-week traveling salesperson will place a much higher value on a conveniently located reserved parking space than will a one-time tourist to your downtown area. The tourist may place a higher value on easy navigation from the parking location to the tourist destination. What changes can you make to capture revenue from both types of customers?
Plan for the next step. Spring brings graduations – and the exciting life stages that follow. Even if you’re many years past graduation, retain that attitude of new beginnings and learning. For me, I plan to work on my Certified Parking Professional (CPP) credential this year. Spring is a great time to set the goal and commit (and the NPA offers lots of support if you sign up in time for the CPP working group webinars).
Personally, I love the energy of spring — and I enjoy using that energy to recommit and continue growth toward goals. I hope these ideas help you come up with your own spring tune-up plan.
Katie Mattes is Vice President of Administration for CityParking Inc., a locally owned parking operator in Richmond, VA. Contact her at