How do we keep ‘parking’ from being boring, just more of the same


How do we keep ‘parking’ from being boring, just more of the same

I know, its a horrible thing to say. But if you eat, sleep, work, and live parking, and see the same issues, the same mistakes, the same problems over and over and over, you begin to wonder what’s the use. Every time I talk to someone its the same story. Technology is going to save the parking world. Or “apps” are the coming thing.  Or “ours is the best parking widget because, well, because it is.”

I spent the past couple of weeks talking to the heads of some of the best known manufacturers of parking equipment on the planet and I came away with…..not a lot of excitement. Sure they all had some unique stories to tell, and different approaches, but in the end, their equipment sort of worked, and it fit in most parking applications, and in most places, the users would install it, ignore what it told them, and continue on as they had in the past.

A decade ago someone told me that we were in a paradigm shift in the parking industry. Technology was going to change how we do business. Here we are, ten years later and the shift has taken place and virtually nothing has changed. Sure things are a little prettier and there are fancy displays and the such, but what paradigm shift (a change in the basic assumptions) has happened.

We run garages the same way we always have (well, maybe with fewer people on site, but  people park,  they pay, they leave. We hire third parties to run our garages. On street we charge for parking (meters, P and D, P by S).  We charge more, but it works the same.We write citations to enforce our rules. Life goes on.

Our customers still have exactly the same complaints they did a decade ago. Parking Lots are dirty, dark, expensive, dangerous. Parking should be free!!! Idiots still take disabled spaces and cheat with falsified permits. Life goes on.

Don Shoup wrote his book eight years ago. We thought we had a revolution on how parking was going to be used to help change the way cities operate. So what has happened? Meh.

PPP — Yowza — We were going to monetize parking throughout the country. I can count the number of deal on one hand. Where did that go. OK, maybe its on the cusp, but each deal is being ‘adjusted’ to fit. The original deal with the Chicago off street lots, leased for nearly a billion was seven years ago.

I”ll be at the IPI show next week. Be warned. I’m going to every booth and I’m going to find the ‘new’ stuff. The cutting edge stuff.  And I will report it. Maybe we can get some excitement back into this business.

It goes back to people. Technology can’t fix the problems, whatever they are. It can only provide the tools for good managers to fix the problems. A friend told me 25 years ago that there were only so many really good managers in the business and that was the problem. Those that managed garages well ran first class operations, whether out of a cigar box or with the most expensive technology. And those that didn’t, didn’t.

Maybe if we took a year off from changes, the newest, and the highest tech, and spent the year finding, hiring, and motivating the best people out there, maybe, just maybe….

I’m just grumpy. Must be the change in the weather.

See you in Ft. Lauderdale.





Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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