Frankly Scarlett…..


Frankly Scarlett…..

The headline is clickbait – I really do give a damn. I give a damn about parking, enough that I want us to keep our name. It clearly and concisely describes what we do. When I tell someone I’m in the parking business, they immediately understand the concept.  They may not like it. They may express concern about when I’m going to find a ‘real’ job. But they know what parking is. And it’s a great way to start a conversation.

If I’m in the tech end of the business, I can clearly explain through the use of the word “park” or “parking” just what I do. I provide a way to pay for parking by using your smart phone. I have a way for you to find parking by using your smart phone. I provide technology to read your license plate to make it easier for you to pay for parking or find your car in the garage.

If I’m in operations, I can tell them I manage the parking facilities for the city and ensure you can always have access, and that the garages are well lit, clean and safe. I can tell them that I provide management services and people for parking facilities at the university, or local shopping center, or airport. I oversee an operation that enables drivers to park more than one million times a year at the LAX.

I am concerned that since we have a rather sketchy reputation, the parking business that is, that people want to fix it by changing the name. Take Phillip Morris. Smoking=bad. So they changed their name to Altria. Same company. Or there’s Pete’s Super Submarines – Not too catchy – changed to Subway. Or there’s Worldcom – after numerous scandals, changed to MCI.

We are a $100 billion industry, worldwide. Sure, if you ask senior managers in cities or at universities, you will find they have responsibilities that include running shuttles, overseeing buses, coordinating bikes and scooters and in some cases interfacing with rapid transit.

However, if you talk to the folks who run the more than 40,000 parking facilities in the US, I’m pretty sure they will tell you that they park cars. I also think that if we change our name, we will hide behind public relations rather than actually fix the problems that got us here in the first place.

The issue is one of passion. It’s easy to change a name, but it’s no substitute for passion. The folks I mentioned in the last blog are passionate about parking. They live, breathe, and sleep parking. They will lead the charge to make what we do better. To fix problems, you need to be passionate. You need to care. Like Brandy, George, Roamy, and Brian we need not only to talk the talk but walk the walk.

Unlike Rhett Butler,  I do give a damn. And I think that down deep, you do too.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Hi John, i am sure you would not be surprise to hear that Mr. Parking agrees with your article.

    Our industry prime task is to provide and or manage car parks (parking lots) and the kerbside (curbside) or as I prefer to call it on-street and off-street parking. The problem is that some of the Tech companies and others circling round the industry believe for some reason that using parking as their prime service don’t cover effectively their services and most importantly they believe it devalues their offer and business. I don’t have a problem if these companies want to pitch their services or promote themselves as smart mobility enablers, service providers, the IoT, PaaS or whatever else they prefer to be associated with, the important thing to me is that the public we serve just wants to quickly find a parking space, park, pay and retrieve their vehicle without any hassle and if we deliver that and we do it well, the parking industry will continue to prosper and move forward.

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