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Bob Dylan and the Arena

November 8, 2018

John Van Horn

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 the 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 destinations. 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 around 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. Every time 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 spaces. (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.


We can argue on Teddy Roosevelt’s tenure as president, but he could spin a great tale when he gave a speech. When he spoke to the Sorbonne in 1910, he talked about courage, winning and losing, and actually doing something.


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


TR was quite a fellow. He was a feminist, a strong supporter of women’s suffrage, and a conservationist. When he spoke of the “man” in the arena, he was speaking of mankind.


The arena is where you tread to let your deeds and ideas be exposed to light. Where you fought, where you won and where you lost. It’s not the corner shop, or a classroom, or your workbench in the garage. It’s not where you have your ideas or ply your trade.


The arena is where you bring your fight to light. It need not be huge, like the coliseum, but to test your ideas, your invention, your product, your service, you must expose it to as many as possible. You must be in the arena.


If you run a bodega, perhaps a sign or flag on the street is enough. If you run 20 of them, perhaps you need wider exposure, a larger arena. If you expect to be rated by an entire country, continent, or world, you need an arena that has enough seats to attract a large audience.


Parking Today is that arena in our industry. Through print, our websites, our trade shows, we reach huge numbers, we provide a service that enables you to know whether you experience the triumph of high achievement or the pain of failure, you do so by daring greatly.


Parking Today – We are the Arena



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