Back in the day particularly in Manhattan, but in other places as well, parking was all about price and availability. If there was space, you charged what you could get, collected it, and let the driver park their car. Garages were cold, dark, and frankly pretty dirty. You parked, found your way out to the street, and were happy there was a place to store your car.
As Bob Dylan said, “Times, they are a changin.”
Garages today are coming of age. They are clean, well lit, and have many bits of tech that help parkers to their spaces and then to their final destination. This has been driven not only by competition within our industry, but also the desire of the facilities that the parking supports to have welcoming entrances.
- Shopping centers want to attract customers so they make parking something special, almost like a benefit to the customer. “I want to go to that mall because of the neat parking operation.”
- Office buildings install parking equipment that makes it easy to park leveraging LPR, central pay, credit cards and the like so people will actually talk about the parking experience to their friends.
- Airports want to attract parkers to their parking structures and spend millions on parking guidance, LPR, and other fancy technological marvels.
- Universities are looking for ways to streamline their parking operations, so students and staff can easily move within the campus.
- Cities strive for ways to alter the way people act in the on and off-street parking arena to be better stewards of their parking resources, AND ensure that parkers have a good experience and reflect that experience to local merchants.
- The parking industry is coming up with fancy methods of payment, parking location and reservation smart phone apps, parking guidance, license plate recognition systems, all to give the parker a better experience.
- Off airport parking operations provide valets, high end shuttles, prepayment, reservations, guaranteed parking rates, and even free bottled water.
Competition has something to do with it of course. We want to fill those empty spaces. Everytime an airplane takes off with empty seats, or a day goes by with empty hotel beds, someone loses money. The same is true of parking space. (There are those who disagree with this, more in a later blog).
People are willing to pay for good service. If a garage can charge an extra $2 a day and get it, and it has an average of 750 cars parked each day, that’s an extra half a million right on the bottom line. The parkers are happy, the owner is happy. All is right with the world.
When our customers actually talk about a great parking experience instead of complaining about cost, dirty facility, snarly attendants, we have a win. And that’s what providing great service is all about.
By the way, that same tech that helped supply the service, also enabled parking management to better collect revenue, allocate space, and serve enterprise customers with monthly accounts, validations, and online invoicing. We have a win there too.