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If You Build It, They Will Park!

September 12, 2020

Jeff Pinyot

One of the best Bar-B-Que restaurants in Indiana, Big Hoffa’s Smokehouse, decided that during the pandemic lockdown, they would expand and completely redo their facility in anticipation of huge crowds. Why would the owner take on such a risky venture given the uncertainly of the future? Two reasons: 1. History, and 2. Evidence of a strong future demand. 


Young consumers who have never driven are flocking to driving schools and car dealers.


Big Hoffa’s has great food and was always crowded. The nearby Grand Park sports facility, arguably the largest baseball, soccer, and lacrosse park in all the Midwest, draws weekend visitors most weekends of the year and those athletes and parents need to eat. 


The new nearby hotels that are going in to serve Grand Park provide good evidence of a bright future.


Today in America, a few things have happened. Pfizer stock is going through the roof as there is a realistic chance that a vaccine for COVID might even be ready before the end of the year, giving hope to not only America, but the world, that we will be able to lasso and control this killer. 


Tesla blew past expectations for the quarter, now realizing four straight quarters of profit and an expectation of delivering 500,000 vehicles this year.


Recently, on CNBC, AutoNation Executive Chairman Mike Jackson was interviewed, and the news is good, very good, for the parking industry. 


AutoNation just completed the best quarter in the history of the company. How is this possible, you might wonder? Like Big Hoffa’s Smokehouse looked to evidence, Mike Jackson and AutoNation looked to three specific indicators: 


1. Driver patterns were projecting to the industry that Drivers lean towards having control of their mobility and relying less on public transportation. Drivers want their own personal defined space. Pre-COVID, this was true, and within and beyond COVID, it is unquestionably true. 


2. Drivers want to do business digitally. AutoNation upgraded their methods of business to do business digitally and are reaping the rewards for doing so. Our industry has seriously embraced digital reservations from partners like SpotHero and ADVAM. Digital business follows social distancing guidelines well and reduces face to face interaction. Digital business reduces costs that result in sustainable cost reductions.


3. Drivers want safe environments. The automobile provides consumers with safety and security. Vehicles keep us from the risk of transferring COVID in tight public transportation environments and vehicles keep us away and give us shield against finding ourselves in an area of high risk.


Today, young consumers who have never driven are flocking to driving schools and car dealers to purchase vehicles to take control of their mobility. 


Mike Jackson said that AutoNation bought up as many new and used vehicles as they could in anticipation of the new increasing demand for personal mobility. 


As a member of the parking industry, this should make the hairs up on your arms stand up with excitement. There was already a strong demand for parking before COVID. Future demand for parking spaces will likely be unmet by today’s inventory of parking spaces. 


Like Big Hoffa’s, the ones who will win in this deal are the ones who are taking this time to update their facilities to be ready for the onslaught of parking demand. 


Owners like the City of West Palm Beach who, during COVID, are updating four parking structures with new lighting and integrated Parking Guidance, will win big moving forward. West Palm Beach will be able to know their inventory to the single space, sell every space, and provide a safe well-lit facility to their patrons with their new PGS system. 


Mike Jackson might as well have been giving the Keynote Speech at the next PIE show. Everything he said supports our industry and the need to use this downtime in parking demand as an opportunity to update parking facilities and be ready for the onslaught of parking that is certain to come.


Who will be ready for tomorrow?


Jeff PINYOT is President of ECO Parking Technologies. Jeff can be reached jspinyot@ecoparkingtech.com 



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