Washington, D.C., has joined the growing list of cities that are requiring new buildings to include EV parking in their plans.
As reported by Smart Cities Dive, new and refurbished commercial and multi-unit buildings in Washington, D.C., that have at least three off-road parking spaces will be required to make at least 20% of those spaces available to accommodate electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, under a new law that took effect this year.
The new requirement came in response to public concern that families in apartment buildings or without garages did not have access to EV chargers, a barrier to purchasing a car. The make-ready rule is part of the city’s goal to have at least 25% of new vehicles registered by 2035 be zero-emissions. Similar make-ready requirements have been adopted or introduced over the past year in cities including Orlando, Florida, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City as part of a broad effort to increase EV access.
Twenty years ago, a bright, young millionaire proposed an eye-popping idea for downtown Des Moines, Iowa: a 10-acre, under glass, rain forest. Now, Des Moines is a wonderful town, but not exactly a tourist mecca. What would a rain forest the size of four Walmarts do to downtown Des Moines?
Well, certainly it would consume acreage–an estimated 30 acres. And it would need power. As one consultant said, “When you pull the switch to turn this baby on, every light in Des Moines will dim.” But could a massive tourist attraction succeed in the middle of Iowa? My job was to find out. I was president of the downtown organization and the mayor asked me to staff a task force to evaluate a number of major projects being proposed–an arena, a convention center, a new library, a food and fiber center, and a sculpture garden, to name a few.
I identified a “brain trust” of specialists in several categories. One was a former Disney executive. He did some quick calculations. “You are in a market for a two-hour drive of 3 million people,” he began “Visitors need to depart home and get back in one day. You need a market of 12 million people to support this or you need to get people to come by air. And your airport isn’t big enough and you need 12,000 hotel rooms the day it opens and you only have 7,000.” The rain forest consultant projected annual attendance at 2 million, and the parking lot he proposed was dramatically too small. Furthermore, if Des Moines were to build the other facilities that were on the drawing board, well, we had better start building parking garages by the score.
The local community and civic leaders came to their senses. They determined that the arena, the convention center, and the other major projects were needed and made more sense with far less risk. They believed the Disney executive who projected the rain forest would have operating losses of $10 million annually. The rain forest was then proposed in Cedar Rapids, which made the same calculations Des Moines had. It then traveled to Iowa City, and then to Coralville. Despite a $50 million earmark by an Iowa senator, the project died a quiet death.
In 1989, a very popular Iowa-based firm contributed the saying, “If you build it, he will come.” Des Moines is very lucky and was very smart to choose projects that would serve the Iowa market. Des Moines was never going to be Orlando or Las Vegas. If we had built the rain forest, we would still be wondering what to do with an empty, domed, 400,000-square-foot facility and loads of empty hotel rooms and parking ramps.
Be careful what you wish for and be honest with yourselves about who you are. Today, downtown Des Moines is one of the most successful downtowns in the nation. Come see for yourself. But don’t look for a rain forest. Instead, go to Dyersville and see the Field of Dreams.
David M. Feehan is president of Civitas Consultants, LLC.
The cover of the April issue of The Parking Professional featured a banner that stated, “Four Days to Change Your World.” Lately, I’ve been doing some research into mega-developments–projects that will change the world for many of us.
I live only a couple of blocks from such a project. It is called the Montgomery County White Oak Science Gateway or alternately, Viva White Oak. This multi-billion-dollar project will transform the area surrounding the U.S. government’s Food and Drug Administration headquarters campus into a mini-downtown, with offices, apartments, retail shops, restaurants, and parking.
But how much parking, for whom, and where is a very big question. This project is likely to be built out through a couple of decades, during which time the world of parking and mobility (and transportation in general) is expected to experience radical change.
White Oak’s project is not a one-of-a-kind. I was involved in the early planning for the Towerside project in Minneapolis. This project, adjacent to the University of Minnesota, already has a major attraction—a brewery that is so popular it is nearly impossible to find parking on-site at lunchtime.
Developers are looking at sites adjacent to major research universities, hospital clusters, or government centers to build what are essentially mini-downtowns. Some of these new developments are called innovation districts, others are eco-districts, but whatever they are called, they are having to wrestle with transportation, mobility, access, and parking issues.
Part of the problem is developers don’t know exactly what the projects will look like in 20 years. As technology, architecture, and business structures evolve, the physical characteristics of the development could change dramatically. Will the development be served by public transit? If so, in what form–buses, BRT, light rail, trolleys, or something else? How much on-site residential can the project hold, and will people walk to work and to shopping and dining? How will people’s social habits change as a result?
Many metro areas are now seeing mega-developments, some in central cities, some in suburbs, but these will change the world for many residents, and will certainly change the world for parking professionals.
David M. Feehan is president of Civitas Consulting, LLC.
Moving Forward is IPMI’s monthly professional development newsletter, highlighting educational opportunities and professional development tools and advice. Each newsletter features a new professional development video.
Raising the Next Generation of Parking and Transportation Leaders
HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED A TRACK AND FIELD RELAY RACE? As the lead runner on each team runs the first part of the race, the next runner gets prepared. The runner anxiously times his or her teammate’s arrival and begins running before the lead runner has overtaken him or her.
A relay race is won in the exchange of the baton. The runners must transfer the baton in an exchange zone; if they fail to make the exchange in this zone, the team is disqualified. The crucial moment arrives, and the lead runner surrenders the baton to the next runner. Even the smallest hesitation or miscalculation can cost the team the race.
The new generation of parking and transportation leaders is ready and waiting in the wings, and the parking and transportation baton has to be passed on to this generation. It’s inevitable. If we fail to pass on our resources and industry knowledge to the next generation’s up-and-coming men and women so they can run their leg of the race, they will be stranded at the starting block without a baton.
Passing It Along
We must develop, train, and mentor young parking professionals so they can develop, teach, and train other young men and women to succeed them from generation to generation. It is critical that we develop the next generation of parking and transportation leadership. If we lack the sensitivity, readiness, and willingness to train them and pass the baton, we fail to groom our future parking and transportation leaders. Gloating over our own accomplishments and not wanting to grandfather the next generation into the field because we fear this group might be more talented than us is failing to ensure successorship.
Mentoring is nothing more than a relationship through which one person empowers and equips another. Some important factors that may hinder the transfer of the parking and transportation baton are:
Poor mentoring procedures.
The lack of intentional mentoring.
We may tend to lack proper mentoring methodologies and procedures, and that leads to a poor quality mentoring. Proper mentoring should be a prerequisite in development of our leaders-to-be. The parking and transportation industry has a great need for well-prepared, properly trained men and women to follow in our footsteps.
We may also tend to skip intentional mentoring—we lack a deliberate strategy to prepare our successors. We mentor informally without a purposeful and focused strategy plan to train our trainees. We train passively or occasionally from a distance, being casual, informal, and with a lack of supervision. We allow younger staffers to tag along with us and observe and learn on their own in the hopes they will pick up on accountability and reliability. As we all know, that doesn’t happen accidentally, so we need to change the way we teach on the job. We must mentor intensively with discipline, guidance, and coaching. We must manage our relationship while being focused and organized.
Good mentors produce good successors. When mentoring is unstructured and ineffective, our successors will not be well-prepared or secured. It’s imperative we invest in them. A good mentorship is intentional and intensive and provides the right environment for potential leaders to rise up to their own place of influence. Weak, casual, non-focused, or disorganized mentoring is damaging.
When passing the parking and transportation baton, we must be focused and goal-oriented. We must give our trainees a sense of direction and bearing as well as a directed vision and mission. There must be a plan, a strategy, and supervision. We must invest as well as instruct.
We also should be careful that as mentors we don’t have a short vision, an over-domineering spirit, or become too busy to find the proper time to train. As senior staff, we must pass the benefits of our experience on to our successors.
Determining our Legacy
Before we pass the baton, however we first must make sure there is a baton to pass on and that the baton is not dropped. How can one pass on a baton if it’s not there to pass, if there is no legacy or vision to pass on or leave behind? We must ask ourselves several vital questions to be sure the baton is passed:
Do I have a next man or woman in line?
Am I serious enough to prepare him or her?
Do I have a plan to develop him or her?
Am I willing to invest time in him or her?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, the baton will not be passed. We must know how to secure young men and women into the industry and propel them into their rightful places as leaders. There are several ways we can properly pass the parking and transportation baton successfully on to the next generation. We can give people proper apprenticeship training, provide the right climate for their development, empower them, and—most importantly— believe in them!
Parking and transportation’s future will be digital. Working digitally will require managing digitally. Parking and transportation apps will be routinely used in everyday business operations and in every aspect of running a parking and transportation organization, from leadership development and recruitment decisions, to wage and benefit incentives. It is for this reason we need to look for what I call altrocentric leaders to lead.
What is an altrocentric leader? In past generations, leaders were categorized as egocentric—they used power and formal authority to get the job done and commanded results. Altrocentric leaders, on the other hand, keep their egos in check and view themselves as part of a greater whole of the organization. They take satisfaction in their team members’ accomplishments and in being productive team players themselves. They understand the nature of their leadership role and have an empathetic ability to attract, retain, and motivate the diversified and highly independent workforce of the future. They are not the “do as I say and say as I do” leaders of the past. Altrocentric leaders possess emotional intelligence, self awareness, and self control. They have the influencing skills future leaders will need to thrive in the ever-changing and challenging parking and transportation organizations of the future.
Going digital will demand leaders who aren’t afraid to learn from their younger colleagues. Although technical skills will be a prerequisite in this digital era, how the potential leaders apply their skills and experience to influence and lead groups when it’s time to hand off the baton will be key to their success.
We must be able to see the potential in our up-andcoming leaders, tolerate their mistakes, be flexible in handling their failures, have patience when time and experience are needed, and encourage and build our co-workers up when they fall along the way.
As coaches, we should focus on our employees’ hidden potential and strengths, persistently urge them to anchor themselves, help set their direction, and provide motivation, skills, and applications that meet the upcoming challenges and tasks that lie ahead.
Our basic functions as coaches should be to impart confidence, skills, and knowledge to the next generation. We should motivate them to bring out the best in themselves and model our principles and values. We should observe our leaders-to-be in action while evaluating them and giving them feedback. We must teach them to have patience and time, be accountable, and accept responsibility.
There are certain qualities, however, that we must expect from those in whom we are investing time and effort. We should demand a standard from our potential leaders. They must be focused and determined to push on and come up. They must be disciplined to rise to a position of influence; not being disciplined can result in a downfall.
Unfortunately, we can’t turn back the clock. We can’t start over. We can’t insulate the new generation from the effects of the supply and demand of parking and transportation needs not being met. We can, however, transfer our parking and transportation industry morals, wisdom, values, and etiquette to the next generation.
A good leader doesn’t pass the baton too soon. A great leader does not hold on to the baton too long. Learning how to pass the baton neither too soon nor too late is an art. It is an art that must be rehearsed because both the giver and the receiver need lots of practice!
MONICA TANKSLEY is special events manager at the University of Rochester. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if you could build a parking program from scratch? Where would you start? What would your central tenets be? How would you integrate the wealth of knowledge gained by parking professionals during the past 100 years?
In reality, most people don’t get this opportunity. As we’ve found our way into the unique world of parking professionalism, we’ve largely inherited programs. And those programs were built iteratively in response to the needs of the surrounding community and challenges experienced along the way. All we’ve had to do is learn from our predecessors and implement iterative change.
In essence, all you’ve been asked to do is keep the train on the tracks. But what if you got the amazing opportunity to build the train?
Putting a Plan in Place
In Aurora, Colo., that opportunity arose as a once-suburban community turned big city found itself on the brink of transformation. The city, which has a population of 350,000 and is situated east of Denver, lacks a paid parking program. Residents are accustomed to parking for free throughout the municipality, except for a relatively new medical campus in the city. However, the regional transportation district (RTD) is on the cusp of opening a light rail line that will include nine stations in Aurora and connect the community with both Denver and the airport. To say that things are about to change in Aurora is an understatement.
City planning staff realized the tremendous potential for transit-oriented development (TOD) and set out planning for the future of the community. As planning efforts occurred, it soon became evident there would be a need for advanced parking management. In 2015—less than two years before the lines would open—Aurora hired consultants Kimley-Horn to evaluate the implementation of comprehensive parking management within the community.
The study was driven by the fact that RTD intended to construct most light rail stations without the addition of significant public parking—a decision that could negatively affect surrounding neighborhoods and businesses as new parking demands were generated in the community. The study was intended to lay the groundwork for creating a public parking management entity in the area. This new program would be a radical shift for a community with no preexisting parking assets.
As the consultants and the City of Aurora worked together, the basis for the program evolved from primarily parking management to more of a parking and mobility entity focused on not only the provision of parking but also the provision of pedestrian, cycling, transit, and connectivity amenities. The decision to provide these features as part of the program was made to create a more cohesive connection with the community, linking the transit stations through enhanced first- and last-mile amenities.
During the course of an eight-month period, Aurora and Kimley- Horn worked hand-in-hand to identify a program structure, largely based on best-management practices assembled from around the country. The resulting Parking and Mobility Program Business Plan, which was delivered in summer 2015, provided a rare platform to define a program based on the best our industry has to offer. Throughout the project, we joked that Aurora had the opportunity to create a parking utopia, where they learned from all the lessons of the many communities that had previously braved this transition. Before long, what was a funny line became a mantra for the project, with these central tenets:
The community, including the customer and the economic vitality of the community, is the most important aspect of the program.
It’s about so much more than parking; the system should be a conduit for improving mobility, access, and growth within the community.
Enforcement should be based on compliance and education rather than on heavy-handed regulations.
Technologies should be designed to be easy to use for both the customer and the manager.
The staff should act as ambassadors for the program, helping the community learn about how and why we manage parking.
The community should be engaged throughout the life of the program, helping define the future by providing feedback.
Decisions should be made based on real data from the community, ensuring that new program elements meet the needs of those they serve.
Parking should be priced to manage demand and promote community needs, not generate revenue.
Any positive revenue generated by the parking program should be reinvested into the community.
Central to these themes was the concept of building the program around the community. Utopia doesn’t have to mean cutting-edge technologies, progressive policies, or innovative strategies. Simply put, the Aurora Parking and Mobility Program should be built with the success of the community and program in mind.
Implementing the Plan
As the parking and mobility manager for a brand-new program within a city, what would your first task be? How would you implement a comprehensive business plan in a mere 12 months? Being the first parking and mobility manager for the City of Aurora means having the opportunity to be in an exciting position to help shape a program that puts the customer first and is about much more than parking.
With that excitement also come challenges related to a lack of infrastructure and history. The Aurora Parking and Mobility Program Business Plan serves as the city’s guiding policy document but also very specifically outlines action items that need to be implemented with a phased approach. These action items serve as the foundation of a work plan that will create a program from the ground up to support neighborhood access, promote economic development, and drive ridership to Aurora’s new light rail line opening at the end of the year.
Implementation of the business plan required a multi-pronged approach focused on education and outreach, municipal code development, contracting, and the establishment of fees and permitting. Because parking touches so many of the daily functions of a city, an interdepartmental team was formed of professionals from seven different departments, all working together to create the program.
A series of public meetings was held, with more being scheduled, to educate the public about the proposed neighborhood parking permit program. In the public meetings, residents learn how the program will benefit them and provide access to their communities after light rail operations commence.
Working meetings were established with the city attorney’s office to revise a municipal code that included little to nothing about parking programs, enforcement, or citation adjudication. Finally, requests for proposals (RFPs) and contracts were executed to implement what will be a completely outsourced implementation of the parking and mobility program.
A true team effort, Aurora’s first parking facility opened in March with the completion of a conference center hotel project. Much has been accomplished, yet much is left to complete on the action item list.
As a cornerstone of the program’s development, Aurora will continue to provide education and outreach to residents, businesses, and city departments regarding the benefits of a holistic parking management system. The city will be contracting with a qualified parking services vendor in the late summer to implement the municipal operations side of the parking and mobility program, including managed on- and off-street parking, enforcement, and the issuance of parking permits. The program is also deeply involved in economic development and redevelopment opportunities to identify how parking can assist in furthering Aurora’s urban development vision around nine new TOD sites. And finally, the city is continuing to work with transportation partners, such as car share and shuttle operators to provide additional mobility options to residents, businesses, and visitors. It is an exciting time for Aurora, with many changes on the way. Stay tuned to find out if Aurora achieves parking utopia with the implementation of the parking and mobility business plan.
ROBERT FERRIN is parking and mobility manager with the City of Aurora, Colo. He can be reached at email@example.com.
BRETT WOOD, PE, CAPP, is a parking and transportation planner with Kimley-Horn. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The term “customer service” evokes different images in people’s minds. One image could be that of friendly, smiling, helpful employees who go out of their way to serve you. Or it could be the opposite—indifferent, unfriendly employees who can’t wait for you to leave or hang up the phone.
Most people can recall many examples of poor customer service. Whether it’s the help desk employee who puts you on
hold for 20 minutes or the store cashier who engages in a personal conversation instead of ringing up your purchase, poor
customer service can make people feel frustrated and vow never to do business with that company again.
On the other hand, great service feels like a gift. It makes us want to continue to do business with an organization for the long haul. And that alone is the secret to business success—retaining customers by providing great customer service. With so much competition out there, customer loyalty is the single most important attribute your business can have. You achieve loyalty by doing the little things that make customers want to deal with you again and again and recommend you to their friends. The real difference is how a business makes its customers feel. If customers feel valued, most will remain loyal. If they feel under-valued, sooner or later, they will defect to a competitor.
Why They Leave
Several reasons exist for why customers defect from a company. They may move away, a competitor may lure them away, or they may leave because they are unhappy with the product. However, a recent study found that a whopping 68 percent of customers who defect do so because of poor service. That’s a sobering statistic. The study further noted how customers defined poor service: “an attitude of indifference on the part of employees.” So while bad service certainly causes customers to leave, indifferent service can be just as detrimental.
With two out of every three customers citing poor customer service as a reason for leaving, what can your company do to achieve customer loyalty? Assuming your products and prices are competitive, you need to focus on providing superior customer service. To do that, here are three simple steps to help you make sure your customers stay with your company:
1. Look through the lens of the customer.
No matter what industry you’re in, chances are that you interact with customers at some level. Realize that customers can be drivers who want to park their cars, shoppers at a store, patrons at a bank, patients of a doctor, clients of a law firm, etc. Because customers have their choice of where to obtain goods or services, the business has to convince the customer that it truly cares. An engaged, caring employee raises the customer’s confidence that the business is looking out for the customer’s interests. When that employee suggests a new product or service, the customer trusts that his or her best interest is at heart. On the flip side, if the customer senses a lack of caring, he or she will question the motives behind any recommendations.
Every business has its jargon, so be careful to speak in a language customers understand. Successful businesses speak the language of the customer, not the language of their own industry. Take, for example, the banking industry. Would a young couple buying their first house be looking through the same lens as a customer who buys and sells real estate for a living? Of course not. That young couple purchasing their first house is excited and nervous—that is the lens with which they are experiencing this purchase. Therefore, they need loan officers who are excited for them, who explain the terms in everyday language, and
who provide information that will make their buying experience easier. A bank that shows that level of care is likely to earn that young couple’s ongoing business.
The same applies for customer complaints, which can be frustrating for customers and employees alike. As employees, we often can’t understand why a customer is making such a big deal about a particular issue. Didn’t the customer read the contract? (Probably not.) Doesn’t the customer understand that researching a problem takes time? (No.) Remember, it’s not the customer’s job to see through the business’s lens; it’s the business’s job to see through the customer’s lens and show an understanding
of the customer’s frustration.
Next time you are working with a customer, stop and ask yourself: “Am I seeing this experience through the customer’s lens?”
2. When it comes to a company’s environment, recognize that everything speaks.
Imagine visiting a fine-dining restaurant for a special occasion. You’ve been looking forward to the meal, and you’ve heard good things about the restaurant. Then imagine noticing something crusty dried to your silverware and old lipstick marks on your water glass. Wouldn’t you begin worrying about the cleanliness and quality of everything else in the restaurant? Everything speaks!
Now imagine a customer entering a place of business. She notices trash in the parking lot. When she enters the reception area, she sees delivery boxes stacked by the receptionist’s desk. She sees employees standing around eating and having personal conversations. All of this detracts from your business’s image. Consciously or unconsciously, the customer’s antenna goes up and
makes him or her question, “Do I really want to spend my money here?”
The “everything speaks” philosophy means all employees understand that even the little things count. So pay attention to everything, including whether the physical environment is neat and clean, whether all necessary supplies are available, whether
employees are dressed appropriately, etc. Anything that sticks out as wrong becomes an intrusion on the customer experience. These intrusions add up and result in customer concern. On the other hand, when customers sense an atmosphere of professionalism, care, and order, they feel a sense of confidence.
How many times have you seen employees in a business walk right past trash on the floor or a display that has been bumped
out of alignment? Employees who understand that everything speaks will take a moment to pick up some wadded paper
and straighten the display because they know such behaviors have a direct impact on the customer experience.
Take a moment to think about your company’s environment. Because everything speaks, what are the details saying about
3. Create customer “wow”s.
Small gestures can create customer wows. Consider the housekeepers working in the hotels at Walt Disney World. Housekeepers have a tough job. Cleaning up after people on vacation is a challenge. Even in such a challenging job, Disney’s housekeepers will do little things that make guests say “wow.” For example, while spending a day in the Magic Kingdom, children will often leave their stuffed Disney characters in their hotel room. Housekeepers have been known to position the characters with playing cards in their hands or tuck the characters into the children’s bed to create a moment of magic.
Employees can do many things to create wows. Remembering a customer’s name is a huge wow, creating a feeling of family. Letting a customer know that another product may better meet their needs is another wow. Sending a goody basket with a handwritten note to that young couple who just took out their first mortgage is a wow. Some wows are small, and some are large, but make no mistake about it—wows add up.
One of the most powerful ways to create wows is to share best practices with fellow employees. Hold a company meeting so employees can share things that they have done that dazzled customers. Just talking about these behaviors increases the likelihood
that others will adopt some of the practices or create new ones of their own. It is also likely that some wows can become standard procedure, whether it’s a grocery store bakery handing out fresh-baked cookies to children or salespeople escorting customers to a product rather than simply pointing.
Next time you’re helping a customer, ask yourself, “Will my behaviors make this customer say or think ‘wow’?”
Take Action Now
Excellent service is not about policy manuals. Excellent service is about excellent behaviors. When employees focus on excellent service, the results can be magical. Customers are happy, employees are happy, and shareholders are happy. Everyone wins. The key is to make service excellence a habit. Encourage every employee to internalize the above steps so they become habits. When employees focus on these principles, your company will achieve the most powerful result of all—intense customer loyalty.
DENNIS SNOW is a speaker, consultant, and author of two books, “Lessons from the Mouse: A Guide for Applying Disney World’s Secrets of Success to Your Organization, Your Career, and Your Life” and “Unleashing Excellence: The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service.” He can be reached at email@example.com or 407.294.1855.
This May, the 2016 IPI Conference & Expo offers more than ever before.
Nobody knows more about staying in tune than the people of Nashville, Tenn.—Music City, USA. And nobody knows more about staying in tune with parking than IPI, the biggest association of professionals in the industry. Put the two together, and it’s an unforgettable and invaluable experience, and it’s coming up next month. The 2016 IPI Conference & Expo, May 17–20, brings the most education and networking, the largest Expo in parking and transportation, and a complete professional tune-up for parking professionals to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center. You’ll harmonize with more than 3,500 peers from around the world (they’re coming from 45 countries!) and strike a chord while learning from industry leaders, engaging in high-energy sessions and roundtables, and soaking in real-world ideas and lessons you’ll take home to put to work for your organization and your career.
All of this is set against the remarkable background of Nashville, whose rich history and lively culture offer a visiting experience like no other city in the world. Ready for the parking event of the year? Read on for more information on this year’s plans, exciting events, and registration information. It’s time to tune up!
More Than Ever Before
The 2016 IPI Conference & Expo offers something for parking professionals in every segment of the industry. Whether you work in operations, management, planning and design, sustainability, or enforcement, you’ll find tremendous value in this year’s event. More than 45 education sessions in five tracks, inspiring keynotes that hit all the right notes, and the biggest parking-specific Expo in the world all combine with countless networking events to offer an invaluable experience.
No matter your industry experience or expertise, you’ll find lots of new ideas in Nashville next month, organized into five unique tracks of formal education:
Personal Development. Set your personal or professional goals, and understand the difference between book smarts and street smarts.
Technology & Innovation. If it’s new or coming down the pike, it’s here. Learn about the innovations and improvements that will affect your operation.
Finance & Auditing. By the numbers—if it’s part of your spreadsheets or bottom line, it’s part of this track.
Mobility & Alternative Transportation. Learn where you and your business fit into the new mobility equation and how to make the most of these trends.
Planning, Design, & Construction. Explore best practices and take a deeper dive into more complex topics that will help you plan, build, and maintain your facilities.
Specialize in one track for in-depth education, or pick and choose for a broader experience. And don’t miss the high-energy IGNITE session, where speakers deliver their messages in rapid-fire tempo for presentations that are concise and entertaining. Looking for more? Register for one of two in-depth, pre-Conference programs and learn to become either a Green Garage Assessor or APO Site Reviewer.
All IPI Conference education sessions offer CAPP points, and candidates can also register for two multi-day CAPP courses (University of Virginia Business Management and Behind the Fine Print: A Blueprint to Parking Management, Operations, and Regulations) offered on-site. Visit ipiconference.parking.org for registration information and details.
IPI keynote sessions are educational, inspiring, and high-energy, and this year is no exception. Meet Dennis Snow, a 20-year veteran of the Walt Disney Company, who has a passion for service excellence. Who in parking doesn’t want to provide the best customer experience possible? Snow presents “Learning a Culture of Service Excellence,” focusing on developing a service excellence strategy, executing it, cultivating buy-in and dedication from employees, and highlighting specific leadership behaviors that help hardwire excellence into an organization’s culture (see p. 26 for more).
Jump into the Park Tank™
Did you catch last year’s IPI Park Tank competition? Based on television’s popular “Shark Tank,” this is where entrepreneurs and innovators face tough parking “sharks” to try and get their dreams off the ground. This year, it’s a General Session, and you won’t want to miss the excitement! Last year’s contestants say Park Tank gave their companies huge boosts (See p. 44 in the February issue of The Parking Professional for more), and this year’s expect even more. The competition is fierce, and it’s going to be exhilarating.
IPI Conference & Expo veterans know there’s no networking like IPI networking—where else are the industry’s top leaders, biggest innovators, and most connected professionals together in one place, ready for a conversation day or night? This year’s event promises even more unparalleled opportunities to get to know your peers from around the world and tap into their expertise in structured events, outdoor activities, or casually walking in the halls. A few highlights:
A day of fun and introduction awaits you Tuesday, May 17, from golf to walking/running to Nashville tours (even on Segways!) and paddleboarding or ziplining.
First-time attendees and new IPI members can get to know each other on Wednesdsay, May 18, and Thursday, May 19, in casual events designed to get you oriented to the Conference and introduce you to new friends.
A Taste of Nashville, this year’s opening welcome event, takes you to the Grand Ole Opry for a reception and show like no other city can deliver (this is a two-part event; the second half at the Opry requires separate ticketing).
IPI’s Young Professionals in Parking (YPIP) will enjoy a special mixer, Beer, Ball, & BBQ, complete with a baseball game!
State & Regional Associations welcome their friends to a beer garden mixer that kicks off the Nashville experience in great style at a fabulous downtown location.
Be sure to make time to connect with new and old friends from parking at these events and lots more opportunities for networking. This is real value-added, and it’s only at IPI.
It’s the biggest and best parking Expo in the world, and this year offers more exhibitors, products, services, innovations, technologies, and ideas than ever before, all in one massive 170,000-square-foot space (bigger than the famous Ryman Auditorium!).
Going green? It’s easy to find Green Star program exhibitors, featuring sustainable products and services, by looking for special markers on the show floor, right in front of designated booths.
Looking for in-depth insight? That’s easy too. TECHtalks are 45-minute-long presentations on the show floor that will explain different technologies and the best ways to implement them in your operations for the biggest bang.
This is that huge show your colleagues use to improve their businesses, customer service, and the bottom line. It’s the best place to see everything new under one roof, and with more than 12 hours of Expo time, you’ll be able to fully explore any future purchasing decisions. See p. 38 for a complete listing of this year’s exhibitors and to start planning your experience.
Spotlighting the Brightest
Need more inspiration? Join IPI in recognizing this year’s CAPP graduating class, Awards of Excellence, Professional Recognition Program awards, and Marketing & Communications Awards winners in presentations that will warm your heart and give you some great ideas you can put to work at home. This year, Certified Green Garage and Accredited Parking Organization (APO) leaders will also be highlighted—you’ll definitely find new ideas here.
As always, the 2016 IPI Conference & Expo takes place in a vibrant city—Nashville, Tenn., birthplace of so much of your favorite music and an experience unto itself. With fantastic restaurants, an unbelievable music scene for both up-and-comers and already-famous singers and songwriters, and charming shops and historical attractions, Nashville has something for everyone.
Did you Know:
Nashville’s United Records is one of only four remaining vinyl record manufacturers in the U.S.
The Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, is widely considered the best theater in the nation.
Jazz and rock play a huge part of Nashville’s music history. Greats that include Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Etta James, and B.B. King played in local clubs.
Oprah Winfrey was raised in Nashville.
Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union during the Civil War and the first to be readmitted when fighting ended.
Three Presidents—Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and Andrew Johnson—were from Tennessee.
Goo Goo Clusters, considered the nation’s oldest combination candy bar and a Southern icon, are produced by the Standard Candy Company, which can make 20,000 every hour.
The Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s home, has a driveway in the shape of a guitar.
The Parthenon in Centennial Park is the world’s only exact replica of its famous Greek namesake.
The radio program now known as the Grand Ole Opry was founded in 1925 by the National Life & Accident Insurance Company.
Elvis Presley recorded more than 250 songs at RCA’s Studio B on Nashville’s Music Row. The red, blue, and green lights still in the studio were left over from one of his Christmas albums—the crew installed them and cranked the air conditioning as low as it would go to
get the famous musician in the holiday spirit when recording in July.
The Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center contains nine acres of indoor gardens, complete with a 44-foot waterfall, and is the largest non-gaming property in the U.S.
Nashville has more than 120 live-music venues. Those that play music four or more nights a week have guitarpick-shaped “Live Music Venue” signs.
Ready for the single best parking event of the year? Don’t miss the 2016 IPI Conference & Expo—we’ve only scraped the surface of all the excitement and value. For more information, Conference registration, and everything you need to reserve your room at the Gaylord Opryland, visit IPIConference.parking.org—don’t wait! We can’t wait to welcome you to Nashville!
KIM FERNANDEZ is editor of The Parking Professional. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customer service is an interesting thing, isn’t it? As with most service industries, it seems as if parking agencies talk about customer service and how to deliver it ad nauseam. We all want to be on the receiving end of superior service delivery, but many still struggle with how to define and deliver it. Oh sure, there are the routine descriptors: Friendly, helpful, kind, congenial, accommodating. All of these are true enough, but what tools are we providing within our organizations to deliver this top-level service?
I recently spent three days at a hotel property that I will not soon forget, and I mean that in the best possible way. From the moment I arrived, every interaction I had with hotel staff was exceptional. Everyone was accommodating, personable, and kind, but it went deeper than that. Across the board, they all seemed to genuinely like being there.
On the last day of my stay, I had a conversation with a young woman who had been my server each morning at breakfast. I shared my observations about the exceptional service I’d enjoyed throughout the hotel. She was appreciative of my comments, yet she didn’t seem at all surprised. During our brief discussion, she talked about the hotel management’s philosophy of service: Employees need to feel good about what they do and what they’re empowered to do for the customer.
She told me about daily employee briefings. They celebrate each other’s successes on an ongoing basis. “I feel really supported by my supervisors and my team of co-workers,” she said. The smile on her face gave me no reason to doubt her sincerity. I asked her if this was the first hotel property she had worked for. It was not—she had worked for other properties prior to getting this position about three years ago. “I’ll be honest,” she said, “it was a bit of a culture shock to me at the beginning, but they provide a lot of training on how things are to be done here. I’ve never worked anywhere that had such high standards, but I can tell you that I’ve never been happier. I really like what I do. I like our team.”
Does this theory of service translate to parking? I think it can and should, but we sometimes inadvertently overlook the critical step of building a strong team before we ask our team members to go out and individually deliver service.
Translating to Parking
If you’re contemplating how to go about improving customer service delivery within your organization, here are five points worth considering as you set the stage for success:
Effective customer service requires teamwork. While most staff work independently, it’s important to emphasize that they belong to a larger team. Training is required to effectively think and work like a team.
Hold team meetings or pre-shift briefings. Daily is best but not always feasible. In the absence of daily face-to-face briefings, post updates online or on a team briefing board. Make sure to include praise and positive comments received about team members.
Empower your staff. Once they’ve been trained to perform their job tasks, give them enough latitude to independently do good things for customers. I once worked for a police chief who always said, “Empower your team. You’ll find that 98 percent of the time, they’ll do good things on our behalf. We can deal with the other 2 percent.”
Make customer follow-up a high priority. An organization that doesn’t place high value on timely follow-up with customers will have difficulty being perceived as professional and customer service-oriented.
Encourage team members to feel good about themselves and what they do. Acknowledge and celebrate successes. Large or small, all positive feedback received from customers, supervisors, and other team members should be shared. Acknowledge good work and noble efforts. Offer praise for professionally dealing with a challenging customer.
They say that an organization’s reputation is only as good as the service it delivers. What is your organization’s current reputation?
CINDY CAMPBELL is IPI’s senior training and development specialist. She is available for onsite training and professional development and can be reached at email@example.com.