Writing this blog entry is a bit like a Lutheran criticizing the Catholics over their selection of Benedict XVI. I stop those conversations cold when I ask the criticizer (how do you like that newly minted word) about their religious preference. The conversation then moves to something less controversial like gay marriage or the Iraq War.
What business do I, an NPA nonmember, have discussing the organization. Why not just leave well enough alone. Just at the Lutheran told me that the Pope and the Church’s policies affect a third of the people on earth, the activities of the NPA affect members and non members alike.
In order to ensure full disclosure, you should know that I have asked to join the NPA and have been politely rebuffed. Although PT exhibits at exhibitions, parking and non parking, all over the world, we have been told that we are not allowed to exhibit at NPA shows. Please keep that in mind as you read the following. I have a bias. I admit it.
Over the past couple of years, I have had three former members of the organization approach me and discuss why they are no longer a part of it. Operator one says that he is a small guy and didn’t feel he got good "small operator" information from the group. Operator Two felt the cost was too high, and the amount of time he spent with them didn’t give him good value. Operator Three felt the fee structure was unfair, as he had 35 locations and paid $4200, but the largest three operators with thousands of locations paid only about two and a half times his fee.
When I mentioned these issues with NPA president Steve Long he commented that it was strange that the small guys didn’t feel included, as David Grone, the immediate past president, was a small operator. I just knew what I was told. Perception is reality.
I’m not saying that the membership of the NPA is jumping ship, most likely its up. However these three business people were concerned enough about it to back off.
Lets take a look at the mission statement of the NPA:
NPA Mission Statement
- To serve and assist members in identifying and solving the difficulties that arise in their business activities. (Operator one thinks they didn’t succeed with him at this )
- To promote the research and publications necessary to keep the industry abreast of all critical developments affecting parking and parking-related services. (Here’s the list of pubs over the past five years)
- To enhance the image, public acceptance, and economic progress of the parking industry by means of programs and projects directed to the general public instrumentalities of government and the business community. (Here’s a list of news releases they sent out over the past three years.)
- To promote and encourage ethical business practices among the operators of parking facilities, and to instill in public and non-public users of parking services confidence in the integrity and skills of parking operators. (See list of PR releases above)
The NPA would tell me that it has a great trade show and exhibition, it has an affinity program for its members to get better insurance, better rates on credit cards, and the like. It would tell me that it has a lobbying program to keep minimum wages low and affect other work in congress that relate to the parking industry. Fair enough.
The question always it, what has been the actual success of all these activities and who do they reach.
We have 15,000 people that read PT every month. What is the membership of the NPA — 2,000? Less. a bit more? I acknowledge that we don’t reach the entire parking industry, in fact probably less than half. Some claim that over 1,000,000 people are working in our industry in various capacities. Its a big business. Who reaches out to the rest of them? The IPI? They have a membership of less than 1500.
I think that the three operator’s complaint was really inclusion. Is the organization really inclusive. Does it reach out? Does it really meet its mission statement?
Read the NPA’s list of values of membership.
Now, all you members and non members alike sit back and consider whether or not it fulfills its mission.
By the way, I think the NPA magazine does a good job of reporting the organizations activities. It also has competent information about parking issues. There is only one parking magazine better, but there’s my bias coming out again.
Marty — if you read this or hear about it, please respond — that’s what this blog is all about.
PS — Don’t worry, IPI, I haven’t forgotten you