Tag Archives: TPP-2013-05-

Tourist Transitions

TPP-2013-05-Tourist TransitionsBy Brian Andersen, CAPP, MBA

Over the years, I have witnessed the parking metamorphosis of Park City, Utah, which is a resort town. The city’s skiing is legendary and attracts many to this beautiful region, but its proximity to an urban area and major airport hub has generated some parking challenges. As far back as the late 1970s, merchants in the Main Street commercial district have been engaged in parking issues. An article in a local paper from that era recorded angst over a rule that implemented no-parking from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.—I assume this was to facilitate snow removal. The regulation is still in place and the snow still accumulates. The only difference between then and now is that the number of people who enjoy the snow has increased, necessitiating additional parking regulations.

In 1996, I began my parking career facilitating a valet-assist experiment that was designed to pack more cars into key commercial lots during the peak evening dinner hour to help hungry skiers who spent all day on the mountain. A year later, a parking division was formed and contracted enforcement services were managed under the public works umbrella rather than the police. The police chief loved this change! He often mused about how riled up a person could get over a parking ticket.

In 1998, we installed multi-space meters for the entire downtown commercial core. The solution was driven by a city council that preferred solving problems proactively (possibly too much so). Merchants contended locals were not frequenting Main Street, but data indicated no real change in sales tax revenue. In 2003, meters were removed from lots adjacent to Main Street leaving this key corridor as the only metered parking remaining, which was just enough to break even. Additionally that year, the meters were converted to solar power. In 2006 a parking structure addition was built and the multi-space meters were replaced with a newer generation.

Today, there are ongoing discussions about residential permit program tweaks, wayfinding, metered parking, and the integration of technology. What is a parking professional to do? It seems we should stick to what we do best and work the problems we are given. This takes all the resources we have at our fingertips and then some.

The Initial Problem
Resort towns are usually places of natural beauty. When we drive to a ski or beach town for vacation, we are generally happy just to find a parking space close to our activities for the day. Of course this is true wherever we go; it’s human nature to feel elation when we find that close-in parking space. We usually don’t consider the demands placed on the town from increased parking demand or the solutions used to make our experience a good one. Often this evolution is based on topography, discovery, growth, and change. When the problem of too many cars grows, the visitor experience is negatively affected and a resort town parking manager is brought on-board.

If you are in these shoes, identifying the problem you are trying to solve is critical. A good initial resource is a parking consultant—one who understands the resort business and the uniqueness of resort parking challenges and is willing to learn your specific parking challenges. This will likely involve questioning the planning guidelines as they relate to parking, gathering and studying parking use and duration data, and engaging many constituents at the decision table. Examples of constituency groups that were involved in our town’s program included merchant, lodging, and restaurant associations; employee groups; private parking owners; and affected city departments.

In Park City, the initial problem was brought to the attention of elected officials by the business community, specifically the merchants of our Main Street core. Not surprisingly, in many cases, the businesses’ own employees were taking up the spaces. Before hiring professional help or employing dedicated staff to tackle the problem, several unsuccessful solutions were attempted: two-hour time limits with no enforcement, two-hour time limits with the words “strictly enforced,” without enforcement (don’t laugh), two-hour time limits enforced with one part-time officer, and a valet-assist experiment. Eventually, city staff realized the need to hire a good consultant and begin developing a management program with dedicated staff and a revenue stream. The staff size grew from one person working the program as a side project to a full-time division with a parking manager and dedicated enforcement officers.

Key Challenges of Resort Town Parking
Creative solutions abound in the resort environment. At first glance, it seems everyone is a parking expert because they drive a car. Indeed some ideas are not fit for implementation, but our industry embraces the creative, and some of the most creative solutions I have seen are found in the resort environment. The following are key challenges faced by the resort parking manager:

A well-connected constituency. Our town is small enough that just about everyone knows the mayor and city council members. The challenge this presents to parking management is that the policy makers can become involved in the minutia of parking management instead of setting policy. Countless hours of staff time are dedicated to the follow-up of ticket complaints received at the mayor’s office.

Seasonal demand. Fluctuation in our economy remains one of our most challenging issues. In Park City we call the spring and fall the shoulder seasons, with demand peaking during the busy winter and summer times. Our business district parking resources are primarily shared public parking spaces, and when they are empty, there is intense pressure to make them free.

Need for a wide range of staff skills. Many times, the parking manager in a resort town needs to be a jack of all trades. That is certainly the case for the other employees in the parking division and me. Tasks that might require a dedicated employee in a larger organization are often “other duties as assigned” within our department. Similarly, our enforcement officers clean and maintain meters and collect use data. Our office staff collects meter fees, analyzes data, installs signs, and contracts for parking structure maintenance and cash transport, and the list goes on. While all resort towns may not assign work in the same way, I am confident that in most resort towns, there are times when the manager and staff have to get their hands dirty in the field.

Interesting events. Almost all resort towns draw unique events. Park City plays host to the Sundance Film Festival, which brings approximately 10 days of very heightened parking demand. The size of the event and traffic it generates require the city to manage parking to reduce traffic demand. For example, the metered rate in one lot during this event is $16 for three hours; the non-event rate would be $4.50 for the same amount of time. Without a reduction in cars brought about by these increased fees, traffic has proven to increase to the point of gridlock.

Demand for technology. Resort visitors expect the newest parking technologies, pay-by-cell, online resolution of tickets, and smartphone applications. This requires a lot of procurements on already-lean staff time. In the past, I relied on my IT department merely for server connections to the parking database, but now, all technology-based procurements require their valuable input and our careful consideration for things such as data storage and backup, server capacity or hosting, and data handling policies for LPR. While this may also be the case for larger cities, there are no specialists to dedicate to IT issues within our staff. And in a tourist-based economy, we give exceptional care to the needs of our visitors.

Resort town parking management offers a great opportunity to work in parking while living in a beautiful place. I guess that’s why I’ve worked for Park City Municipal Corporation since 1990 and managed its Main Street parking program since 1998, and been in Park City so long. If you are a resort parking professional who would like a forum to get together to solve your problems and share information unique to tourist-based economies, please get in touch—we would like to assist you.

Brian Andersen, CAPP, MBA, is the parking and fleet admin team leader for Park City Municipal Corp. He can be reached at brian@parkcity.org or 435.615.5371.

TPP-2013-05-Tourist Transitions

Prep Work

TPP-2013-05-Prep Workby Holly Doering

When “Big Joe” McGinnis stole $2.7 million from the Brink’s Depot in Boston (now a parking garage) in 1950, he needed an ice pick to enter the building. Today’s thieves only need to find a way to breach your online defenses. That’s the reason for the rise of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Council and its data security standards (DSS) for e-commerce.

PCI-DSS compliance is mandatory if your parking organization processes, stores, or transmits credit card information. The challenge we all face is that compliance is an ongoing process rather than a static checklist, and we have to follow a good roadmap to navigate changes such as employee turnover and network infrastructure upgrades. According to the Verizon 2011 PCI Compliance Report, only 21 percent of organizations met the must-pass requirements during their initial report on compliance (ROC) that year, “even though most were validated to be in compliance during their prior assessment.”

Parking software provider OmniParkTM, which maintains PCI-DSS Level 1 security certification through Imprezzio’s TranZgate, successfully completed its annual PCI audit in January. Chief Architect Neil Taylor explains, “Because of the sheer volume of transactions we process, and in order to offer our clients better and more aggressive rates, we decided to go for the gold and become Level 1 certified. By going above and beyond, we can provide peace of mind for our clients and their customers. ”

So how does an organization prepare for a Level 1 (the strictest) audit? OmniParkTM’s experience provides a guide.

The Gap Analysis: A Dry Run
In December, experts from a qualified security assessment (QSA) company of PCI Council-certified experts performed a pre-audit assessment called a gap analysis. A gap analysis isn’t required, but it’s a good idea. Taylor explains, “The gap analysis is a mock audit. They look at everything and make sure you’ve been following your own policies and procedures, that they are reviewed and updated regularly, and that your systems are up to date.”

“If problems are found, you have time for remediation,” he says. “You can collect logs, update and review processes and procedures, and prove that you know what to do with the information.”

There can be scheduling issues that push calendars back, Taylor says, but he normally finds a gap analysis that takes place 60 to 90 days before the audit to be the most effective—and cost-effective.

“The auditor does spot checks on everything from the way you deal with employees to the way you deal with data, technical documents, and implement checks and balances,” he says. “They look at how you audit your firewalls, how you build your routers, and what you do with new machines when they’re installed before credit card data is allowed to pass through them.”

“They also check on how you manage personnel,” he continues, “and that your developers can’t write code allowing them to steal credit card numbers if they get fired three years from now, for example.”

“The most difficult area of passing a PCI audit is the documentation,” Taylor says, “because there are dozens of required documents.” There are 12 major PCI-DSS requirement categories and 221 sub-requirements businesses must meet to protect credit card data from theft.

While it can be cumbersome to follow the rules with lots of steps to go through before any actual work happens on the audit itself, Taylor says, “If you are dedicated and diligent, you will have a secure environment by design. The controls are there for a reason.”

Hiring the Right QSA
A PCI audit is a large investment. For widespread organizations with multiple locations or even multiple cities, the PCI audit can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Network World, Inc., the low-cost end cost of the average PCI audit is $225,000.

So choosing the right quality security assessment (QSA) company is essential. Taylor says a good QSA should:

  • Understand your organizational scope.
  • Be able to work with your staff so business doesn’t come to a standstill during the audit.
  • Be able to perform both a gap analysis and a PCI audit.
  • Offer good solutions, remediation, and strategies if gaps are identified.
  • Realize that it is in their best interest to help you pass legitimately.

If you fail audits, Taylor says, your business will suffer and you won’t be able to afford more audits. “The ideal QSA will assist you to run a successful business operation. At the same time, they need to have internal and peer review processes in place within their firm to ensure you don’t get a friendly auditor who just says everything is fine.”

“Quality reports of compliance (ROC) have a much higher chance of being accepted by banks and credit card associations. If the quality of your ROC gets called into question, it is much harder to pass,” he says. “It could get dicey.”

Best Practices and Due Diligence
Best practices in the field of data security include limited access and separation of duties. “In our environment, for example,” says Taylor, “no single employee can perform all aspects of credit card processing. Our development team writes and tests the software; their changes are code-reviewed by someone else without access to write software back to the archive. The code is deployed by yet another team in yet another process. The idea is to make it very difficult for one individual to maliciously compromise cardholder data.

“We make sure multiple people are involved in software deployment and approval. Checklists, formalized test plans, and production checkout procedures help us make sure we haven’t missed anything. It requires diligence,” he says.

Of course, PCI-DSS compliance does not guarantee an organization will never be hacked, as Global Payments, a well-known processor for New York parking garages, learned in 2012, but it does help your parking company make informed decisions on how you use and protect customer data.

The Price Tag
Taylor’s tips for reducing the cost of a PCI audit include limiting your operational scope and employee access and keeping it local. “The scope of the audit is one of the biggest factors in driving up the cost,” Taylor says. “The bigger the cardholder data environment you maintain or number of systems or parts of systems that can access credit card numbers, expiration dates, swipe data, etc., the more your audit is going to cost.

“In our environment, we have limited the scope of our operation to cardholder data environments (CDEs) that contain all our TranZgate software and databases and two external laptops that can access it. The rest of our environment doesn’t fall within the scope of the audit because it doesn’t access the cardholder data. We also keep the number of staff with access very small, so we only need to train a handful of people. This also reduces cost,” he says.

Hiring local QSAs can also cut down on expenses, Taylor says, noting that the company finds it significantly more cost-effective to work with Seattle QSAs than flying people in from California.

Ultimately, maintaining the rigorous standards of the PCI-DSS Level 1 security certification is worth it because of the extra comfort level of existing and future clients.

Holly Doering is a technical writer with Imprezzio, Inc. She can be reached at hollyd@imprezzio.com or 866.847.4515.

TPP-2013-05-Prep Work

Mensa Meters

TPP-2013-05-Mensa MetersBy Jon Martens and Steffen Turoff, AICP

Shoppers, business owners, visitors, and even residents in cities and towns across the U.S., all face the same persistent, driving-related problem: finding an available parking spot. Recent surveys from around the country have shown that regardless of a municipality’s location, some of the top complaints of all drivers relate to parking.

Insufficient parking, not only in terms of the number of parking spaces but also in how those spaces are used, can have many negative effects on a municipality. Drivers endlessly searching for parking can result in gridlock at best, and accidents at worst. There’s also the matter of increased carbon emissions, because individuals are driving more or idling as they hunt for a spot. Finally, and often paramount in the minds of city officials and business people, a community’s deficient parking system can result in lost productivity and economic opportunities. Some in the public may wring their hands over whether or not parking is free, but this tends to distract from what is nearly always the larger issue: can a driver simply find an available parking space?

Fortunately, for those municipalities suffering from parking and congestion issues, technological solutions have finally arrived. There is a rather simple technology that can make parking systems more efficient: parking meters that accept credit cards. Known as smart meters, these meters give municipalities more control over parking rates and offer the ability to better manage supply-and-demand issues related to on-street parking and parking structures.

Thanks to these meters, payment becomes a convenience rather than a hindrance to the parker. This is true even—or perhaps especially—when rates far exceed the typical $1 or less per hour, which is becoming a common occurrence in cities across the country.

A more balanced parking system
A combination of easier access and low parking fees tends to increase the already high demand for on-street parking. Most drivers expect to pay less for on-street parking than for space in a parking structure. After all, the on-street space is perceived simply to exist with little effort while a parking structure requires land, construction, and financial resources to provide. For their part, drivers typically prefer the convenience and visibility of on-street parking to parking in a structure. And because parking structures are pricey to build, the parking rates there can be higher than those charged for on-street spaces.

The idea that parking structure spaces should cost more because they are more expensive to provide than on-street spaces isn’t a viable one. This is because the demand for the less expensive, higher level of service—on-street parking—is significantly higher and the supply is essentially finite. Smart meters that accept credit cards can effectively address this problem.

Because users often don’t possess the necessary change to feed a coin meter, charging more than $1 per hour is problematic for municipalities. Smart meters offer a certain level of convenience that coin meters can’t, while providing a city or town the ability to monitor use and raise on-street parking rates easily and remotely. The rates charged for on-street parking can reflect—and address—actual demand.

Higher rates for on-street parking mean more drivers will use nearby parking structures, which will lead to a more balanced parking system, as the strain on a municipality’s on-street parking—preferred because of its convenience and visibility—will be relieved and structure parking will be better used. This will lead to fewer drivers endlessly searching for parking and less road congestion.
There are two major varieties of smart meters: the multi-space meter and the single-space meter.

Breaking it Down
Multi-space meters come in one of three varieties: pay-and-display, pay-by-space, and pay-by-plate. Each of these meter types has its own advantages, disadvantages, and unique operating procedures. Ideally, one multi-space meter covers six to 10 (sometimes more) parking spaces. This may be viewed as a benefit to the streetscape while it reduces the amount of equipment in the field requiring service and consolidates revenue collection points. Variations in operation are significant and should be considered.

Patrons purchase time from the meter, return to their vehicles, and display their receipts on the dashboard. The receipt contains detailed information on when the parking was purchased and when it expires. Enforcement is completed by visually checking each vehicle for a valid receipt. Pay-and-display can be implemented without marking the parking spaces, although signage is needed to instruct patrons to pay the meter.

Patrons park in a numbered space, enter the space number into the meter, and pay for their desired parking time. Enforcement is done by checking a list of paid spaces. This can be done by printing a list of paid spaces from the meter or using a handheld unit to view the paid spaces. Pay-by-space requires each space to be numbered and marked. It is common to allow users the ability to add parking time from other meters by re-entering their space number.

Pay-by-plate is the latest method of tracking parking payments at multi-space meters. The Pittsburgh Parking Authority recently implemented the largest installation in the U.S., with more than 500 pay-by-plate meters. Users enter their vehicle license plate numbers at the meter and pay for their parking time. Enforcement is accomplished by using license plate recognition (LPR) cameras and software (the units are either vehicle-mounted or handheld). This greatly increases the efficiency of enforcement, as payment and enforcement can be integrated to allow enforcement officers to use the LPR cameras to automatically scan, read, and verify payment while driving. Once the system identifies a non-paid license plate, it tells the officer to stop, verify the data, and write a ticket.

The initial investment for a basic multi-space meter averages around $8,000 to $10,000, assuming payment by coin and credit card. Other payment options include paper currency, tokens, smartcards, or by cell phone. Adding paper currency increases the cost by several thousand dollars and increases maintenance costs. Because of these issues, this option is generally not recommended.

Ongoing operating costs should be considered. The most significant cost is a monthly fee to maintain data communications and a hosted management system to monitor each meter. This fee varies, but is generally $50 to $60 per meter per month. Receipts for multi-space meters typically come in a roll, and more will be used with the pay-and-display options. Meter batteries have a typical three-year life when operating in a solar configuration. Other costs include street signage to direct users to the meter.

Smart single-space meters are typically implemented as an upgrade to existing single-space meters that do not accept credit cards. Operational changes from an existing system are minimal, with each meter displaying the payment status for visual enforcement. The cost per upgraded meter is about $500 to $600. This assumes using existing poles and lower meter housings.

Ongoing operating costs include a monthly fee for data communications and management system of about $6 to $8 per meter per month. A small additional fee is typically charged by the meter vendor for each credit card transaction. This is in addition to the normal credit card transaction fees charged by the credit card processor to accept credit cards. This cost varies based on use and may be negotiated based on anticipated use through a higher monthly fee per meter. This separate fee is not typically charged by multi-space meters. No receipt paper is required for single-space meters. Each meter typically includes a small solar panel to provide a small charge to the battery. Battery life is usually expected to be three years.

Municipalities have had success with both varieties. Choosing one or the other—or implementing both—comes down to whatever option best fits that community’s parking needs.

Increased Revenue, Decreased Citations
By installing smart meters, many U.S. cities have made their parking programs more convenient, efficient, and profitable. For example, Columbus, Ohio, conducted a pilot program involving single-space meters that ran for almost eight months. During this test period, these meters reported an impressive uptime of 99.53 percent. Credit card use increased each month, eventually accounting for 34 percent of the transactions. Overall, when compared to the previous three-year average, meter revenue increased nearly 27 percent, while the average credit card transaction was twice the average cash transaction.

Los Angeles installed smart single-space parking meters to supplement its coin meters. The city reported a meter revenue increase of nearly 50 percent, with credit card payments making up more than a third of that amount.

Portland, Ore., became one of the first communities to install cashless multi-space meters in 2001. Using roughly 900 meters, the city saw meter revenue increase by 40 percent without a rate increase. Meanwhile, total operating costs increased 77 percent. The increase in operating costs was directly attributed to credit card processing fees and monthly service fees associated with the new meters. The end result was an increase in net revenues of 35 percent (or $1.8 million) between the base year (FY 2000-01) and the fully installed and stabilized year (FY 2004-05).

San Diego replaced more than 300 single-space coin meters with cashless multi-space meters. The switch resulted in a near 25 percent increase in meter revenue.

Aside from revenue increases, municipalities implementing smart parking meters benefit from having reduced collection times, as meters need to be emptied less. In San Diego, for example, collections decreased by more than 72 percent.

One potential drawback, particularly for cities in need of revenue, may be a reduction in parking citations. San Diego saw a 22 percent decrease in tickets after installing multi-space meters. In Denver, citations dropped by roughly 5 percent, while in Columbus, the decrease was just more than 16 percent.

These decreases in citations can be overcome by improving enforcement techniques, such as using automatic license plate recognition equipment or providing enforcement officers with increased mobility to speed the process of checking each vehicle.

Other costs include added fees for processing credit cards. These fees are typically based on a small per-transaction fee plus a percentage of sales. Variables include the type of card, transaction amount, and card issuer. The fees have created a competitive market and should be shopped carefully.

Effective and Efficient
Communities across the country are plagued by inefficient parking systems that result in circling vehicles, congestion-choked streets, high carbon emissions, on-street parking shortages, negative effects on local businesses and, perhaps most important of all, driver frustration.

By implementing smart meters, a municipality can take a proactive step in managing parking and make parking systems function more effectively and efficiently.

Steffen Turoff, AICP, is a project manager and parking consultant with Walker Parking Consultants. He can be reached at steffen.turoff@walkerparking.com, or 213.488.4911.

Jon Martens is a parking consultant with Walker Parking Consultants. He can be reached at jon.martens@walkerparking.com. or 317.842.6890.

TPP-2013-05-Mensa Meters

To Market To Market

TPP-2013-05-To Market To MarketBy Michael Klein, CAPP

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to use market forces to allocate on-street parking without incurring the wrath and ire of the public? Would you like to improve customer service, support efficient development, and improve your financial performance? One paradigm shift will allow you to generate vehicle turnover and achieve desired occupancy levels by replacing price ceilings and rationing with market forces, without a rate increase!

The parking and transportation industry has researched ways to improve parking management at least since 1935 when the first parking meter was put into service, and as shown by the 2012 IPI Emerging Trends in Parking report (parking.org/trends), the demand for cashless payments, adoption of innovative technologies, and need for greater parking revenue have collectively brought us to a tipping point.

Here, I’ll detail a new approach to managing on-street parking that addresses these trends and demonstrates how to operationalize an approach that works very well. It is easy for citizens to understand, generates turnover using market forces, does not require a rate increase, and is generally preferred by the public as it better addresses customer needs by offering new levels of service. And all this may be accomplished with no greater investment than that of the current generation of meters or virtual systems that accept multiple payment platforms such as credit and debit cards.

In recent years, conventional wisdom about parking has changed a great deal. Some of this relates to technological improvements that allow multiple payment platforms. Other changes relate to budget issues or the need to improve access in cities, universities, airports, hospitals, theme parks, and other locations where demand generators create localized pressure on parking supply, and traffic congestion. Fuel is wasted and air pollution is generated when the most desired spaces are always occupied and drivers are forced to circle and look for parking. Given the new tools at our disposal, the old concept of only allowing two hours of parking at on-street meters and setting that hourly price lower than for off-street parking for the same period may be a thing of the past!

According to accepted economic and parking theory, this works well if we can generate turnover to achieve peak occupancy rates of 85 to 90 percent and effectively communicate the approach to the public. Customers benefit as they receive on-street parking within one or two blocks of their destinations, businesses prosper thanks to improved customer access, and we reduce fuel consumption, traffic congestion, and air pollution. As an extra bonus, people save time and money when they locate parking quickly.

One downside is that overtime ticket revenue may decrease, as people are able to pay for and receive the service they desire rather than being penalized for parking past their allotted time. But increased payments for services rendered replace ticket revenue, and higher compliance at meters allows enforcement staff to focus on other needs such as safety infractions.

Market Pricing
Let’s first consider related actions you may already be taking in terms of market or demand-based pricing. These typically occur in off-street locations where the parking access revenue control (PARC) system allows for complex rate structures. Early bird rates offer parking for less money when demand is low, which is typically first thing each morning. Rate schedules may reflect higher or lower prices based on varying demand at different times of the day or days of the week, and specialized structures are designed to match localized demand generators. Some rates encourage longer length stays (third or fourth hour free) to allow customers more time to partake of what local merchants have to offer.

Then there is special event pricing. When your local arena, stadium, or campus/civic center hosts an event that boosts demand, do you set a special event rate structure and increase staffing to support it? Perhaps you also consider throughput and street congestion when determining operational details such as pay-on-entry versus pay-on-exit? The bottom line is that many off-street pricing frameworks incorporate market forces to set prices, and consider total price for parking in context with a larger experience.

Until recently this type of rate structure was not feasible on-street due to practical limits when paying primarily by coin. However, as long as your platform allows payment via credit/debit card, web, mobile phone, smart card, memory stick, phone application, toll tag, or other non-coin payment platform, this limitation goes away. Still, the question remains: how do we generate turnover to maintain open spaces when most parking professionals generally seek peak occupancy targets of 85 to 90 percent?

The On-Street Solution
The solution employed by the Albany Parking Authority uses pricing that increases the hourly cost by $.25 for stays longer than the previous limit of two hours. We call this new class of users “long-stay customers.” Many organizations have rules against re-feeding meters to maintain curbside parking availability, but with our new approach, that is no longer needed. Our focus is to address customer service needs using a cost/benefit approach. What we care about is that our customers find spaces that meet or exceed their expectations, and this supports economic development.

When someone takes a trip to Albany to visit legislative representatives, we want them to be able to park without exposure to an overtime ticket because they didn’t know exactly what to do. The few dollars’ difference is generally a price people are willing to pay, especially when the system offers flexibility. So if someone doesn’t want to pay $21.50 to park all day at a meter, they can take a break halfway through the day and re-feed the same meter (without moving their car) for a total cost of $15.50 (two five-hour purchases of $7.75 each). At the other extreme, they could go out every two hours and pay $12.50 (five two-hour purchases of $2.50). In our view, the costs to monitor and hold accountable those who re-feed meters generally do not measure up to the benefits as long as our system serves customers well.

The key is to set up a pricing structure that fits your customer base and is well-accepted by the public. Based on concepts from The High Cost of Free Parking, by Donald Shoup, Ph.D., we used a progression based on $.25 increments, and the results have been excellent. Below is the rate structure that was implemented in the fall of 2011 and what we use today. Note that there is no rate increase or price change for customers who purchase two hours of parking at $1.25 per hour, but they also have a new alternative to buy a third hour for $1.50, purchase parking for all day for $21.50, or buy anything in between. Price motivates people to make market-based decisions where they are in control.

Here’s the progressive rate structure sticker we affix to multi-space meters at eye level.

Market prices are more efficient than price ceilings and rationing. In a free market, price is determined at the intersection of supply and demand. Therefore, if supply is stable and demand rises, price should rise. When demand falls, price should fall. This economic concept allows markets to achieve equilibrium prices.

Until recently, the on-street parking market was generally regulated by price ceilings and rationing. This yields inefficiency that result in shortage of supply, queues, and unnecessary cruising, as well as favoritism and corruption.

If we eliminate controls and allow people to stay as long as they want, their stay may be too long, turnover may be too low, and occupancy may be too high to support access needs and economic development. That’s where market pricing leads us to success, but also to complex price structures that may result in communication challenges. The Albany model, as documented with the following actual data, addresses all these concerns quite well! Peak demand at many block faces places occupancy at 80 to 95 percent, with overall occupancy at 63 percent.

The next chart shows actual average customer length of stay during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Use varies from block to block to reflect demand generators and proximity, and averages 115 minutes in this zone. Other zones have different profiles, but are similar. Color coding indicates block faces that are opposite sides of the same street.

Average turnover also varies from block to block to reflect demand generators and proximity, and for this zone, is 3.52 turns daily. Color coding indicates block faces that are opposite sides of the same street.

Occupancy is calculated from detailed meter transactions and also varies from block to block to reflect demand generators and proximity, and for this zone, averages 63 percent paid occupancy. Color coding indicates block faces that are opposite sides of the same street.

By drilling into the data, we are also able to identify use in many ways, including purchase amount by hour of day. In the following example, we surmise that this block face filled between 8 and 9 a.m. Based on the data, we infer that more customers would have parked between 9 a.m. and noon if spaces had been continuously available, and so we were bumping up against 100 percent occupancy. After 1 p.m., demand ebbs and space availability increases. This appears to be an opportunity to set up a split rate structure in which we rethink rates, durations, and the on-street/off-street pricing tradeoffs. These report-based numbers are reviewed and compared to site surveys to better understand actual use.

The progressive rate structure allows customers to satisfy their access needs without creating occupancy issues, and does so while substantially improving revenue per space. Bottom line, 22 percent of our patrons are long-stay customers who generate 59 percent of the revenue with suitable lengths of stay, turnover, and occupancy metrics!

Last, but not least, the data we are receiving regarding on-street use allow us to make data-driven decisions, are valuable to local stakeholders, and may even help us transition to a better trade-off between on- and off-street parking.

Michael Klein, CAPP, is executive director of the Albany Parking Authority, N.Y. He can be reached at mklein@parkalbany.com or 518.434.8886.

TPP-2013-05-To Market To Market

Beyond Supply & Demand

TPP-2013-05-Beyond Supply & DemandBy Brett Wood, CAPP, PE

The parking supply and demand study is one of the oldest staples in the parking professional’s toolbox. It happens in all sorts of parking departments and operations, and is always intended to answer the questions:

  • How much parking do I have?
  • How much parking do I need?
  • Who uses my parking?
  • Where should I put new parking?

For years, we have answered these questions through a systematic methodology that assigns parking needs to land use categories based on historical patterns. For example, a mom and pop diner in Des Moines, Iowa, needed 10 spaces for every 1,000 square feet. At some point, an engineer/planner documented this, and now it is taken as gospel. Based on this limited data, a five-diamond fusion restaurant in Atlanta is now required to provide 10 spaces for every 1,000 square feet. Too much? Too little? We’ll have to find out when the restaurant opens.

What’s that old adage about history repeating itself? I think the one I am looking for is “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In regards to the way we are evaluating supply and demand, maybe it’s those who can’t forget the past who are doomed to repeat it. Many urban planners, smart growth proponents, and parking planners have been shouting for years that the way we plan for and provide parking in our downtowns and campuses is archaic and leads to an inevitable overabundance of underutilized parking.

For parking professionals well-versed in the “Shoupian” philosophies of market-based parking pricing and elimination of minimum parking requirements, this criticism of traditional parking planning methods is nothing new. These principles are the foundation of right-sized parking, which aims to provide the right mix of supply to meet actual demand rather than predict demand based on the highest possible generation characteristics (for example, planning for parking demands on the day after Thanksgiving for a shopping center). Right sized parking—a staple of smart growth practices—uses actual parking characteristics from a community to define parking requirements, rather than relying on national averages to define parking supply.

Many progressive communities, such as King County, Wash., and San Jose, Calif., have undertaken studies in recent years to right-size their parking supply. Their typical study process involves collecting actual parking occupancy data as it relates to either residential uses or retail establishments. Using this data and an understanding of the actual land use mixtures within the study area, these teams have begun to calculate their own parking generation rates for their communities, allowing for a more accurate mix of parking and land use density that is tailored specifically to them.

Why Now?
This movement to right-size parking supply is prevalent because of the resurgence of America’s downtown and urban settings. The urban lifestyle began to make a comeback in the 1980s and today’s young professionals and college graduates are more apt to move to an urban setting than the generations preceding them. Projections for future demographic growth across the U.S. predict that this trend will continue for the next few decades. As a direct result of this urban renaissance, parking planning has been elevated, with urban parking planning at the forefront of any new development. Many times, the parking required may determine the viability of a new project and whether it can move forward or not.

The problem is that we are still applying the historical parking practices we learned from our experiences in the suburbs of America. The result often is an overabundance of parking supply in our downtowns. A recent study completed in Dallas showed more than 55,000 parking spaces in the downtown with an average occupancy between 50 and 60 percent. A study in one section of downtown Atlanta, Ga., showed more than 90,000 parking spaces, with around 50 percent occupied.

Using generic industry standards, we can project that the cost of the overbuilt parking spaces was $1.5 billion and the development density forfeited could be near 27 million square feet—which are staggering numbers. As an industry, we have over-planned for parking and limited the influence of shared parking by restricting spaces; we are treating our downtowns like so many fragmented strip shopping centers. Over-parking in a shopping center, of course, results in a few hundred extra spaces. Over-parking in a downtown area could result in thousands of extra spaces and a significant loss in potential development, resulting in huge potential reductions in the tax base.

How Do We Reverse the Course?
Now that we are aware of the problem, how do we plan differently? It starts with realigning our understanding of parking. The parking and downtown industries have made great strides in recent years to better understand shared parking and its effects on demand. We must apply those principles and expand our thinking further. It’s time we begin to view parking as a system and apply management and modeling capabilities that evaluate it in this manner. Too often, we look at parking in a vacuum, but if we started to look at it more like our transportation systems, we might find a better fit.

By approaching parking demand analysis like a traditional travel demand modeling exercise, we can begin to more accurately predict where parking wants to be and define unique and realistic parking generation rates for each individual land use, rather than land use categories. Why should we continue planning for all restaurants to park at 10 spaces per 1,000 square feet? Why shouldn’t a four-star steakhouse park differently than a one-star taco stand? By applying a unique proximity-based calibration engine and a logical modeling technique that predicts demand allocation for land uses, parking and urban planners can begin to find the right mix of parking, development, and downtown or campus vibrancy.

What’s the best part of this approach? It can be done with tools and data we already have on hand. Using geographic information systems, we can catalog land uses and parking characteristics, and evaluate spatial relationships between development and parking supply. Using newer parking technology (enhanced revenue control equipment, back end management systems, or parking sensors), we can mine parking occupancy data to fuel the calibration equations for this new modeling approach.
The result is a process that gets us closer to right-sized parking and allows communities and campuses to begin planning for parking demands that are more realistic when compared to their actual operations and uses.

Who’s Doing It?
Over the past year, this process has been applied in several communities and campuses throughout the country, providing local practitioners with a better understanding of their unique demand situations and putting them in better control of the evolution and management of the parking systems in their own community. These communities and campuses include Fort Collins, Colo.; Beverly Hills, Calif.; Lincoln, Neb.; Asheville, N.C.; Durham, N.C.; the University of Washington; Texas A&M University; and Arizona State University.

The tables above show examples of calibrated parking generation rates for Fort Collins, Colo., and Texas A&M University as compared to traditional parking generation rates outlined in national governing documents (ITE or ULI). Table 1 provides a comparison of land use rate categories as mined from the calibrated data. In Fort Collins, Colo., the adjusted rates all reflect a reduction in parking requirements based on actual local parking occupancy. For Texas A&M, the adjusted rates vary between uses, indicating the actual demand conditions on campus could necessitate a higher level of parking infrastructure to support parking conditions.

* Calibrated rates presented in Tables 1 and 2 are examples based on specific occupancy data collected in the subject communities. This data is expressly applicable for these communities and should be strengthened with additional data to ensure appropriate parking planning.

Table 2 provides a more detailed review of three restaurant types within Fort Collins, including a four-star steakhouse restaurant, a coffeehouse, and a fast food sit-down restaurant. This stratification of parking generation rates allows for a more defined assessment of parking needs when new developments or redevelopments occur. Instead of planning for generic restaurant types, city planning staff can now use specific requirements developed from existing businesses with similar characteristics of the proposed development or redevelopment.

What It All Means
The right-sized parking approach is quickly gaining momentum in the planning and parking community. Making better decisions for parking management and infrastructure planning makes our communities and campuses more sustainable and efficient, while providing better parking and transportation and saving money in infrastructure development. Traditionally, the right-sized parking approach has been defined by local data collection and analysis, but the modeling approaches defined in the previous section are allowing parking and urban planners to better manage parking and development, without the additional workload or evaluation. Furthermore, if approached intelligently, the modeling approach allows a community to update its own data and re-calibrate the actual parking demands in an ongoing basis as the community changes over time. The modeling approach also includes the ability to evaluate demand management strategies, including parking pricing, multimodal travel, and vehicle reduction strategies.

The intent is to empower our planning and parking managers with the power to get beyond supply and demand. Once we are there, we are better equipped to grow and respond to the changing landscape of parking and urban management.

Brett Wood, CAPP PE, is a parking and transportation planner with Kimley-Horn and Associates. He can be reached at brett.wood@kimley-horn.com or 602.906.1144.

TPP-2013-05-Beyond Supply & Demand

Rolling Controversy

TPP-2013-05-Rolling ControversyBy Kim Fernandez

The City of Chicago followed several other major cities last July when it passed an ordinance banning food trucks from parking within 200 feet of fixed businesses that serve food. Their ordinance, which also required the trucks to broadcast their whereabouts via GPS devices, went a bit farther than most, but the concept of keeping mobile restaurants from claiming space in front of brick-and-mortar food establishments has become a popular way to stifle howls of protest from business owners as the trucks grow in popularity.

Restaurant owners were thrilled with the rule. Food truck owners…not so much, and in November, the Institute for Justice, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading legal advocate for the rights of entrepreneurs,” sued the city on behalf of three entrepreneurs. At the same time, it released two reports it said offered recommendations to city officials on developing conditions that would let the trucks thrive (ij.org/food-truck-freedom).

It’s become a common conundrum as food trucks—essentially fast-service restaurants on wheels—have grown in popularity: how can cities balance the wishes of traditional restaurants, citizens’ need for on-street parking, and the rights of entrepreneurs to start and operate businesses, when the three seem to clash so much? Increasingly, it’s become a legal one that, in some cases, takes traditional parking rules and regulations to a whole new level of complexity.

“In a suburb of Washington, D.C., there was recently a court case where a food truck operator was cited for staying parked too long and given a ticket for loitering,” says attorney David Houston, partner, ReedSmith, LLP., Falls Church, Va. “The court threw the ticket out and said the law was too vague.”

That vagueness, he says, can be a real problem when cities try to enact regulations about where and when the trucks can operate.

“Washington, D.C. is trying to come up with regulations now,” he says. “They proposed, but have not yet adopted, 23 different designated food truck areas around the city. The problem with their model is that they haven’t provided a lot of details yet—you may be in one of the 23 zones, but it doesn’t say how many trucks would be operating in that zone. What they’re proposing is that food truck operators have to go through a monthly lottery to see if they’re chosen, and the zones themselves might not be in prime areas where the trucks may be the most successful.”

Still, there are cities that have been successful in striking a balance between the trucks and traditional restaurants. In others, the battles rage.

Doug Povich has operated the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck in and around Washington, D.C. for the last two and a half years; he’s also chair of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington. Parking regulations, he says, are the biggest thing on truck owners’ minds right now.

“It’s a huge issue,” he says. “The newly-proposed regulations have a whole new
approach to parking, and we have some major issues with them.”

That’s not to say the current system is working perfectly. Right now, food trucks are allowed to park in metered spaces for as long as the meter allows; when the meter runs out, the truck has to move. But there’s a catch.

“Vending rules say we can’t stop at a parking location unless we already have a line formed,” he says. “We can’t stay unless we have customers in line. If there’s no one at the truck, we have to move. It’s an old ice cream truck rule, but it’s still enforced.”

He says his association asks its members to abide by a 10-item code of conduct designed to allow everyone to make a living. “One of those things is that you shall endeavor not to park in front of a restaurant that serves the same food you do,” he explains. “That’s a voluntary thing. We don’t want to upset our restaurant friends, and a lot of our trucks aspire to be restaurants, so they understand.”

Still, he says, from the truck owners’ perspective, many parking regulations go too far. “It always gets couched as the food trucks vs. the restaurants,” he says. “I hate when that happens. We think there’s an opportunity for a win-win for everyone.”

Finding Answers
Gary Means, CAPP, executive director, Lexington & Fayette County Parking Authority, Lexington, Ky., says the food truck phenomenon is a relatively new one for him, and he had no idea how deep the water was when he waded in to try and strike a balance between parking needs and fair competition.

“It is unbelievably more complicated than it seems at first,” he says. “I thought there would be a quick fix.”

The first issues he saw were in neighborhoods, where food trucks would park outside corner gas stations or strip shopping centers, play music, and launch what soon became a party.

“There was loud music and people were hanging out,” he says. “The neighborhoods felt it was aggressive and imposing on their quality of life.”

About 18 months ago, the city established a task force to deal with the issue and to figure out how to balance the parking needs of the trucks with the needs of citizens and restaurants. “I have always said meters are for turnover,” says Means. “They are there to help restaurants and other merchants by providing turnover and open spaces. To see these spaces occupied by trucks instead of by people who are there to do business flies in the face of what we’re about.”

At press time, Means said a pilot program had been proposed to establish four downtown areas where trucks could rotate: no truck could stay longer than a week, and they were not permitted to visit the same spot for 30 days after that week ended. Legislation was also being drafted that would let trucks park in metered spaces after 5 p.m., and that would allow private parking lot owners to make their own arrangements to host the trucks as they wished.

“My perspective has been to find locations where the sidewalks are wide enough and they’re not too close to brick and mortar restaurants, and give them hours of operation where they fit a need,” he says. “That’s a perfect fit—we can allocate areas like loading zones or metered spots for that use. That’s where we’ve left it for now.”

He’s not the only parking professional with those sorts of thoughts. In Seattle, Parking Operations & Traffic Manager Mike Estey says regulations established 18 months ago seem to have struck a balance and worked out well.

“We have an active food truck scene in Seattle,” he says. “Our staff and policy makers got together a few years ago to make this work in a way that’s fair to truck vendors and brick and mortar folks, and give some consistent guidelines and regulate the use of our on-street parking.”

Food trucks—now recognized as curb-space vendors—receive permits from the Seattle Department of Transportation after submitting an application and sketches for a proposed parking spot. Staff then goes to the site to make sure it makes sense and isn’t too close to either a restaurant or a school, and then the truck owner provides public notice to existing block residents and tenants of his intent to do business there. Once that’s all done, a permit is issued for that specific spot, which belongs to that truck exclusively on certain days and during specific four-hour blocks of time.

“Outside of those four hours, we still allow people to park in the space,” Estey says. “During that four-hour block, the space belongs to that vendor.”

To date, about 20 permits have been issued to food trucks, and several have secured more than one spot, which allows their trucks to appear in different places throughout the week.

“If you walk around downtown Seattle, you’ll see the zones and the trucks in them all the time, usually with a pretty decent line,” Estey says. “It’s growing quickly.”

“So far,” he says, “there have been very few citizen complaints about the system. We have a little more than 12,000 paid parking spaces in Seattle. We’re talking about 20 spaces here. We want to be mindful of requests so they don’t bunch up in certain places, but so far, that hasn’t been an issue.”

Reserved Spaces
In Las Vegas, regulations prohibiting food trucks from parking within 150 feet of restaurants were passed last year, but so far, they’ve not been enforced. Parking Services Manager Brandy Stanley says that all things being equal, it’s for good

“If we left it at that, food trucks would not be able to do business downtown at all,” she explains. And while the regulations were drawn up in response to restaurant complaints about trucks taking business from them, they weren’t fair to the trucks, either.

“Quite frankly, when the restaurants are open, unless there’s some big, special event, the trucks don’t show up very much,” she says. “They like to show up at 2 a.m. when the restaurants are closed and people are coming out of bars.” Because that doesn’t hurt restaurant business, the city decided to go with it and drew up new regulations that will allow mobile vendors to reserve metered parking spaces downtown at a cost of $5 per hour.

“We developed this in conjunction with our food vendors,” says Stanley. “It wasn’t our idea—it was their idea. We hope they’ll like what we’re proposing to put in place.”

She says new meters have been ordered for those designated spaces that will let the trucks input their license plate numbers to validate their reservation and pay. “We know for a fact they’re there,” she says. At the same time, information on where each food truck is will be broadcast to an app as plate numbers are entered. Residents and visitors can then use their smartphones to find the mobile restaurants. Stanley says the system should be up and running this summer.

For now, these proposed regulations seems to have eased a lot of long-standing tension between restaurants and food trucks and the parking department.

“Some of our restaurant owners were not happy about truck vendors being out at all,” she says. “It’s a different model and a perceived inequity—it’s really two different cultures.”

“There is still some tension,” she says, “But it’s not as bad as it used to be.”

Kim Fernandez is editor of The Parking Professional. She can be reached at fernandez@parking.org.

TPP-2013-05-Rolling Controversy

Find Balance In Your Marketing

TPP-2013-05-Find Balance In Your MarketingBy Bill Smith, APR

As Buddy Holly sang, “It’s so easy to fall in love.” It’s as true in business as it is in life. We see something new and shiny and we want it, or we are introduced to a new best practice and want to implement it. It’s human nature.

This happens in marketing too. In fact, it may happen more frequently in marketing than in other aspects of business management. There’s always a hot new marketing approach, and with the rapid introduction of new marketing technologies, these trends seem to be introduced more and more frequently. The problem is, when organizations fall in love with the latest and greatest marketing trends, they often lose sight of the bigger picture. By becoming so focused on individual tactics, companies lose their grip on their strategic visions for marketing.

The growth of internet and mobile marketing is the latest example. The reach of the Internet is tremendous. And while it can be relatively expensive to develop an effective website and optimize it for mobile use, once it’s up, it’s generally simple and inexpensive to update. The web should be an important element of any organization’s marketing strategy, but it’s only one element.

While websites are easily accessible from anywhere by anyone, they can only be reached by those who know to look for them. They don’t provide exposure to potential customers who aren’t familiar with your organization in the first place.

As powerful as these new marketing technologies can be, they only work effectively when used in conjunction with traditional marketing tactics such as public relations, direct marketing, and advertising. These are the marketing approaches that expose a company to new customers and inspire them to explore an organization’s web presence.

Public relations (PR), in particular, is a powerful tool for reaching new customers. By generating publicity in consumer, business, and industry media, organizations can reach thousands—sometimes millions—of potential customers, strategic partners, and others with an interest in their products and services. PR can also help companies differentiate themselves from competitors. The beauty of PR is that it doesn’t cost anything to arrange for a story to be published or broadcast by a legitimate media outlet (watch out for outlets that charge for stories).

Likewise, direct marketing can be a very effective element of a balanced marketing program. In the old days (and unfortunately, I’m old enough to remember), this meant having brochures and newsletters printed and mailed. Today, services such as Constant Contact and Emma allow organizations to conveniently distribute e-newsletters or brochures to contacts and prospects via email. The process is much simpler, more convenient, and less expensive than when we had to use ink, paper, and stamps.

Unfortunately, marketing imbalance has become the norm for many organizations. They jump from tactic to tactic, hopping onto new trends and then lamenting that their marketing efforts aren’t working. As a consultant, I see this all the time: companies all too often undermine effective programs or build futile ones because they are infatuated with a new trend. I’ve even seen marketing consulting firms—professionals who should know better—fall into this trap!

Don’t despair if your organization’s marketing program has fallen out of balance. Just figure out what’s missing and how you can integrate all of the appropriate marketing approaches. Once balance is restored, you’ll find that your organization’s marketing program will get back on track.

Bill Smith, APR, is a principal at Smith Phillips Strategic Communications.
He can be reached at bsmith@smith-phillips.com.

TPP-2013-05-Find Balance In Your Marketing

Concrete Steps to Sustainability and Profits

TPP-2013-05-Concrete Steps to Sustainability and ProfitsBy Tom Nickell, MBA

Concrete. Gray, dull, boring. Not something to think about, right? Well, it’s also the most common man-made material. We walk on it, drive on it, and park on it. It’s no exaggeration to say that concrete and steel make up 99 percent of the materials used to build parking facilities.

Concrete is durable, but it also sustains damage. It cracks, pits, scales, dusts, and deteriorates over time. Damage comes from two major sources: corrosion from acid or acid-like substances such as salt, and expansion from freezing water. Concrete is porous, and this quality provides the pathway to destruction. Water and the chemicals it can carry get into the pore structure of the concrete and initiate damage.

We all know the costs of that damage—safety hazards, loss of use, and tear-out and replacement. What if there was a way to slow down this deterioration? Believe it or not, it’s a sustainability issue.

Concrete and Sustainability
Manufacturing Portland cement, a primary component of concrete, is a major contributor to global warming, producing 5 percent of all carbon emissions. Increasing concrete durability reduces replacement and repairs and avoids greenhouse gas production.

What if your facility could see 10 or 20 additional years of useful life? If you think of three basic stages in the life cycle of a building—construction, use, and end-of-life disposal—you see that increased durability lowers the need for replacement construction and maintenance during use. Both have significant effects on carbon dioxide (CO2) production, and the longer a facility lasts, the less disposal is required over time.

The Bottom Line
Every 1,000 square feet of concrete torn out and replaced costs anywhere from $25,000 to $65,000, and possibly even more if we include lost revenue and the effect of downtime on customer satisfaction. Even before replacement, we face the harder-to-quantify cost of poor aesthetics and potential safety hazards posed by deteriorating surfaces. Increasing durability lowers net operating costs.

How to Increase Durability
Increasing durability is all about increasing density and reducing porosity. That can be done in two ways. The first way is by choosing a well-engineered concrete mixture that’s properly placed and finished, whether pre-cast or cast-in-place. A tighter pore structure can be achieved with lower water-to-cement ratios and by adding fly ash, micro silica, or slag to the compound. Air entrainment significantly reduces freeze-thaw damage, but also decreases density and strength. Like air entrainment, all mix solutions have trade-offs and limitations.

What about concrete that’s already in place? There are several options. Coatings, overlays, sealers, and water repellants help, but are temporary solutions that require frequent maintenance and re-application that can greatly increase their total lifetime costs. Gel or crystal-forming chemicals increase concrete density and don’t require re-application. These chemicals can save more than 90 percent of the total expense of maintaining concrete over the life of a facility.

You can prevent and even stop damage to concrete while increasing its usable life and lowering maintenance requirements. By focusing on concrete durability, you can enhance the sustainability scores of your facilities, save money, and have more functional, safer, and aesthetically pleasing facilities. Owners, investors, and customers will all be happier. Not bad for gray, dull, and boring!

Tom Nickell, MBA, is CEO of CreteDefender, Inc., and member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at tom@cretedefender.com or 877.830.6008.

TPP-2013-05-Concrete Steps to Sustainability and Profits

The Lasting Influence of Oz

TPP-2013-05-The Lasting Influence of OzBy Barbara J. Chance, Ph.D.

At a recent conference, I had the great experience of listening to Craig Hickman, co-author of The Oz Principle. This publication has remained a top-selling leadership book for many years, and hearing Hickman reminded me why this is so.

The basic idea is that accountability—both personal and organizational—is vital to successful performance. Rather than ducking responsibility, blaming someone else, or avoiding the tough issues and decisions, the successful person understands and takes ownership of the problem, solves it, and takes action. This behavior is the kind that makes an employee indispensable and makes an organization perform at a much higher level.

In the famous book and movie, Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow all had to find out in their own ways that the Great and Powerful Oz was not going to solve their problems. They had to do it themselves; they became accountable for their own issues and helped each other, and that made all the difference in their success.

Many employees, however, do not seek accountability, and articles regularly chronicle a disconnect between employees and their work. A survey by Salary.com, quoted in Forbes in 2012, found that 64 percent of employees visit non-work-related websites every day. A Towers Watson survey indicated that two-thirds of employees are not thoughtfully engaged in their work. Fast Company magazine reports that more than half of U.S. workers effectively hate their jobs. The litany goes on and on.

Why are workers so unhappy? Why aren’t they engaged and accountable for their work? And what can leaders do about this?

Individuals want to feel valued, respected, and recognized at work. They want to know that their organizations and supervisors care about their well-being. Most want responsibility, and virtually all want to be successful. Until they believe that genuine concern exists in some reasonable and demonstrable way, they likely will not follow an example to be accountable in their work. That absence of accountability will then translate to employees and organizations not being as successful as they would like to be.

You may well be a leader in your organization. You have the opportunity to affect how well the organization demonstrates the importance of its employees. Naturally, this all starts with you! You may influence the actions of others, but your own actions are the only ones completely within your control.

While salaries are important, it is clear from many surveys—as well as my personal experience—that employees find the care for their personal well-being even more valuable and important than money. And once they believe that care exists, instilling accountability and a can-do attitude can begin to take hold.

Back to Oz for a moment. In a very real sense, Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion all, at one point or another, took ownership of the situations in which they found themselves. The Scarecrow put the plan together to rescue Dorothy. The Cowardly Lion overcame his fear. The Tin Man stood up to the Wizard. And Dorothy threw a bucket of water on the burning Scarecrow that melted the Wicked Witch of the West. They became accountable for their actions, showed concern for each other, and each found the leader within.

If there is an industry-appropriate lesson to be learned from that small band of sojourners through Oz, it is that to overcome and become truly successful, leaders are needed at many levels. Once they establish themselves, the group will truly thrive. And it all begins with genuine concern for the individual.

Barbara J. Chance, Ph.D., is president and CEO of CHANCE Management Advisors, Inc., and a member of IPI’s Consultants Committee. She can be reached at barbara.chance@chancemanagement.com or 215.564.6464.

TPP-2013-05-The Lasting Influence of Oz