I’m in the parking business. People around me are complaining that the future is bleak. What with Uber/lyft, electric scooters and bikes, the entire ‘mobility’ thing, autonomous vehicles, and connected cars, my business is threatened from all sides. What to do, what to do?
As I have mentioned, we have taken a lot for granted in this business. We typically showed up at our garages or lots five minutes before opening, took down the chain or opened a gate, then jumped back so we wouldn’t be run over by cars rushing to fill our garages.
When we did market, we would manipulate prices (particularly early bird) to attract parkers away from our competitors. And that was that.
In some markets, particularly Manhattan, we would reach out through the internet and attempt to attract customers to fill the few spaces available after the monthly parkers arrived for the day. And there you go.
Suddenly we are truly finding competition. Uber/Lyft is killing valet services, hotel parking, and airport parking. And why not?
Why spend ten or 15 minutes waiting for a valet to bring your car when you could jump in a Uber and be on your way? Why rent a car for $80 bucks a day when Lyft will take you to your hotel and drop you off at the front door? Why drive to the airport and pay $10 bucks a day to park, when Uber will drop you off at the gate?
Now, reread the last paragraph. What are the problems with it? Its filled with conventional wisdom. But is it true? It is as far as it goes.
True you wait a few minutes to get your car from a valet, but you also wait up to 10 minutes for Uber. PLUS you pay a minimum of what $20 each way to ride in Uber, much more than you pay to park, even with tip.
Sure, it’s cheaper to take Lyft than rent a car, but do you sacrifice any flexibility? If you are going to multiple meetings throughout the day, is paying the Lyft fees, probably $15 or $20 a pop including tip, more or less than rental and parking?
Studies have shown that dropping your car off and paying for parking at the airport, depending on the number of days you are away, is less expensive than Uber/Lyft. If you live 15 minutes from the airport and are travelling three days, take Uber. If you are 45 minutes from the plane and are going to be gone a week, drive.
Conventional wisdom isn’t always correct. If we simply roll over and accept things on face value, we deserve what we get.