Tag Archives: TPP-2014-07

Spreading the Good Word

TPP-2014-07-Spreading the Good WordBy Cindy Campbell and Casey Jones, CAPP

Parking isn’t an industry that’s traditionally garnered lots of warm-and-fuzzy press attention, but that’s changing. Thanks to the efforts of IPI’s Parking Matters® program and committed professionals from all segments of the industry, the good word is getting out that parking adds to communities, boosts businesses, and plays a big part in any effective transportation system.

This year, IPI launched its Parking Matters® Marketing & Communications Awards to recognize programs that have gone the extra mile to advance the parking profession through marketing campaigns, special events, and communications efforts. To say the entries we received were inspiring is an understatement. Many parking programs have joined the effort to let their communities know about the good things happening in our industry, and picking winners was no easy task. But we did it, and they were recognized at the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo in Dallas last month.

Three “Best of 2014” awards were given out, along with awards for other fantastic entries. Find details of programs and links to video, collateral, ads, and more at parking.org/marcomm-winners. Entries for 2015 open this fall.

Best of 2014
Norwalk, Conn., Parking Authority
Rebranding Parking with Technology, Art, and a Smiley Parking Meter
When the Norwalk Parking Authority did its research, the result wasn’t what anyone wanted to hear: Norwalk residents and local business people had unfavorable views of parking, with criticism that there wasn’t enough parking and drivers had to pay to park. The Authority’s response was to launch a rebranding campaign that contained key messages about friendliness and accessibility, as well as news about recent improvements to parking facilities that make the parking experience easier.

To lend some fun and a friendly face to the campaign, the planners created a parking meter mascot, “Mr. Smiley,” who appeared in all print and online advertising, as well as on signage, Facebook, warning stickers, and the Authority’s website. Mr. Smiley’s message: “Parking Around Town is Getting a Lot Friendlier.” The Authority promoted its new consumer-friendly and smart parking technologies, such as pay-by-phone, credit card-accepting meters and pay stations, and street sensors for wayfinding and parking availability information. It placed interactive kiosks around town with community information about attractions, restaurants, and entertainment and developed partnerships and sponsorships with community organizations. One innovative campaign element was “Art in Parking Places,” a public art program at various parking venues in the city, such as the railroad station and the Maritime Parking Garage. Three years later, public perceptions of the Authority are more positive. The rebranding continues with a “We’ve got a spot for you in Norwalk” campaign that highlights the installation of occupant and space sensors, which provide real-time parking availability information online.

Takeaway: A mascot that appears across all marketing materials is an effective way to draw attention to a campaign. Also, look for innovative ways to make parking facilities friendly places, such as with public art.

Best of 2014
Montgomery County, Md.
Using Research and an Edgy Message to Promote Pedestrian Safety in Parking Lots
When Montgomery County, Md., officials reviewed the county’s pedestrian collision data in 2013, they were startled to discover that incidents in parking lots and garages comprised 30 percent of all collisions, 18 percent of which resulted in incapacitating injuries. That’s about the same rate that occurred on county roads (20 percent). Clearly, the county’s successful pedestrian safety program needed to add a focus on pedestrian collisions in parking lots. As a result, it developed an education campaign that relied on forging partnerships with county retail parking lot owners and managers and educating the public with a variety of outreach tools.

Using an edgy message in both English and Spanish that tells pedestrians and drivers what to do—“Heads Up in Parking Lots: Don’t run over people. Don’t get run over”—the campaign featured photographs of people in parking lots who were distracted by cell phones and otherwise inattentive to their surroundings. Employing no- and low-cost techniques, including in-house artwork and digital marketing, the campaign used multimedia education such as posters and pavement decals at partner shopping centers, bus and bus shelter ads, downloadable materials on the county’s website, a press conference with the county executive, and public service announcements on YouTube and the county’s cable television channel.

Takeaway: Research and review of available data is an essential element when developing a marketing campaign. Translating materials to reach a diverse audience is important, and partnerships can enhance the communications impact.

Best of 2014
Dallas Fort Worth
International Airport “Finding Your Hot Spot” with Spring Break Express Parking
Travelers at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW)have a number of parking options: off-airport parking with low daily rates or on-airport parking with higher rates but convenient proximity to terminals. During the 2014 busy spring break travel season, DFW officials wanted to maximize revenues with increased parking in on-airport lots while ensuring customers could easily find parking spots. At the same time, they hoped to increase awareness of the convenient benefits of on-airport parking. Their strategy was to promote Express Parking and encourage travelers to upgrade from remote lots.

DFW’s campaign, entitled “Spring Break Express Parking: Find Your Hot Spot,” positioned Express Parking as the perfect start to vacation. Customers who parked during the campaign’s five-day timeframe were “sprung” $15 vouchers to spend inside the terminals. The team also collaborated with an advertising agency to use a wide range of marketing channels: traditional advertising (print and radio ads in English and Spanish), digital (online banner ads, e-newsletter), guerilla (ski roamers who met travelers on the shuttle bus and distributed promotional items, surfboard pop up stands, vouchers), and social media (shareable photos with travelers). The creative approaches used to promote Express Parking paid off; Express Parking lots were full by Wednesday of spring break season, compared with Thursday of the previous year, and Express occupancy was greater than the previous year throughout the week.

Takeaway: Guerilla tactics and grassroots approaches that use one-on-one marketing can create buzz and bring attention to campaigns. Effective use of social media with shareable photos lends a fun aspect.

Parking Matters® Award
ParkIndy and Xerox
Engaging the Public to Promote Acceptance of the Modernization of Indianapolis Parking Operations
Indianapolis faced a public education challenge in 2010 when, working with Xerox, it modernized its parking meter system with 1,400 credit card-accepting single-space meters, 325 pay boxes, and pay-by-cellphone functionality. In addition, the system launched wayfinding technology that allowed drivers to receive live, real-time maps showing open parking spots via an app. The challenge: how to educate the public about the new technologies and avoid motorists’ befuddlement at the curb.

The ParkIndy team branded the new system with a key-like logo, green and grey colors, and the web-oriented tagline, “ParkIndy.net: Find Your Space.” In-person dialogue with stakeholders was important during the early stages of the rollout, with presentations and a team of parking ambassadors who assisted motorists using the meters. Customer feedback was important, too, and evaluation surveys show a dramatic increase in residents who now say downtown parking is affordable and easy to find.

Takeaway: Campaign evaluation and customer feedback are essential. They allow you to assess the success of the campaign and areas for improvement.

Parking Matters® Award
Houston Airport System Parking Division
Promoting Valet Parking with a Robust Marketing Campaign
Houston Airport System’s Parking Division wanted to generate new revenue and create more dynamic parking options at its two airports. The solution was a new valet parking product, but first, the planning team did its research.

The Parking Division’s marketing plan was comprehensive and robust. Designed to increase revenue and generate customer awareness of the new valet program, the campaign relied on a wide range of marketing elements: promotional discount pricing during launch, TV and radio ads, billboards, dioramas at baggage claim and on concourses, banners, website information, promotions, elevator wraps, and public relations. A partnership with a local golf tournament allowed valet ambassadors to greet event-goers and distribute promotional items, and additional partnerships with the Houston Rockets and Texans enabled the Parking Division team to advertise and promote the service to game attendees.

Takeaway: When launching a new program, learn from others who offer the same product or service. Also, consider implementing the new program in phases to correct any mistakes.

Parking Matters® Award
University of California at Irvine,
Transportation and Distribution ServicesEasing Commuter Parking with Sustainable Transit Choices
A marketing plan developed by University of California at Irvine (UCI) Transportation and Distribution Services helps avoid gridlock: Commuters know about their transportation choices, parking locations, service amenities, and sustainable transit options.

Even before students begin their college careers, transportation staff attend a campus-wide festival for prospective students to inform future Anteaters about their transit options. Education continues once students are on campus, with interactive education seminars that provide information on parking zones, permits, and on-campus motorist assistance. Bus passes, trains, shuttle buses, carshare, and bikeshare are also featured in commuter education materials. In addition, Transportation and Distribution Services sends a quarterly e-newsletter to all staff, faculty, and students, highlighting traffic impacts, parking lot maintenance, rideshare activities, and bike path construction. Special events, such as Rideshare Week and Bike Month, plus cost-effective digital marketing on Twitter and the website managed by the marketing team keep everyone current on the latest news affecting transportation.

Takeaway: Even a large institution can avoid traffic gridlock by taking advantage of multiple opportunities to educate target audiences about their transportation options and promote sustainable transit choices.

Parking Matters® Award
Texas A&M, Transportation Services
Reaching Out to Key Stakeholders with Targeted Messaging
Texas A&M’s Transportation office wanted to share its story with a diverse group of target audiences: more than 60,000 students, faculty, and staff; visitors; alumni; the university administration; and industry peers. Staff decided the best way to inform target audiences about Texas A&M’s products, services, and proven results was to implement a campaign with targeted messaging. The campaign, which was launched at the beginning of the 2012 spring semester, used print ads in the alumni magazine and industry publications that highlight car and bike sharing, transit options, sustainability measures, and departmental improvement efforts. Bus ads in 72 university shuttles, website images, screen ads in the student rec center and business school and table banners also featured key messages about sustainable parking and the use of new technologies such as pay-by-phone.

Takeaway: Industry peers are interested in successful programs and how they can be replicated.

Parking Matters® Award
Texas Tech University, Transportation and Parking Services
Riding Bicycle Use to a New Level with Biannual Bike Clinics
While the Texas Tech’s Transportation and Parking Services team welcomed the more than 6,000 students using bicycles on campus, a sizeable number of bikes were abandoned each year due to simple problems. Clearly there was a need for education about bicycle parking, maintenance, and safety.

The Transportation and Parking Services team developed an outreach program that uses branding, incentives, partnerships, and advertising to draw student, faculty, and staff members to a twice-yearly bike clinic at a high-traffic area on campus. It offers free diagnostics and simple bike repairs, on-site bike registration, and information from on-campus groups promoting bicycling and bike safety. The volunteer-run clinics are incentivized with free water and vitamin drinks, branded water bottles and sunglasses, and bike seat covers with the Bike Clinic logo. The team promotes the events with postcards on dining tables, tags placed on parked bikes, posters, and posts on Twitter and Facebook. Most effective are emails to bicycle permit holders and postings on the university’s daily broadcast email.

Takeaway: Resolving a transportation issue doesn’t have to cost a lot. In this case, in-house production of promotional materials, existing branded incentives, and effective use of volunteers kept costs low.

Parking Matters® Award
City of Sacramento Parking Services Division with the IPS Group:
Smart PR for New Smart Parking Meters
The City of Sacramento partnered with IPS Group to install 4,000 solar-
powered smart parking meters that accept credit cards and coins. With this modernization came the need to educate the city’s diverse business groups, motorists, and employees about the new meters and related policy changes.

Working in a public/private partnership with IPS, the city’s creative team leveraged the vendor’s experience with other jurisdictions to develop a comprehensive campaign that used multimedia messaging and marketing materials. The campaign used a dedicated website, a video on meter use, press releases, posters for display on bulletin boards and in merchants’ windows, an instructional brochure, social media, and a live demo with a smart meter in the City Hall lobby, close to the customer service counter.

Takeaway: Don’t reinvent the wheel; leverage the past experience of others when developing a marketing communications campaign. When you ask the public to make a change, be sure to allow plenty of lead time for public education.

Parking Matters® Award
North Carolina State University Transportation
Creating a Buzz about Parking Permits with the Zombie aPARKalypse
How can university parking permits create on-campus buzz? For NC State’s Transportation team, the easy answer involved engaging students in the creation of a four-minute video that humorously conveys messages about the importance and ease of obtaining parking permits. Inspired by the popular TV program “The Walking Dead,” the team recruited a staff member with expertise in media animation and film as the creative director and a communications specialist as producer. The campus theater department and student groups provided the volunteer talent, who played the zombies, a student who had neglected to obtain a parking permit and his girlfriend. A department staff member demonstrated the ease of obtaining a parking permit online.

The video was promoted through social media, including through the personal Facebook pages of the actors, as well in campus partner websites, imdb.com (internet movie database), and YouTube. The university billboard system displayed a poster about the Zombie aPARKalypse video, and a poster with the video was displayed in the Transportation lobby to entertain students waiting to conduct business.

Takeaway: Video is effective in delivering messages, especially to those who learn visually. Involving your target audience in a video production creates interest and widens the appeal of your message.

Parking Matters® Award
Pittsburgh Parking Authority
Using a Keychain Fob to Promote Pay-by-Plate Technology
Can you recite your car’s license plate number? Most drivers can’t. This was the challenge faced by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority as it planned the change from single-space, coin-operated parking meters to a pay-by-license-plate system.

The low-tech key to helping drivers was a virtually weightless keychain fob containing the Authority’s website address, lists of credit cards accepted by the meters, and most importantly, a blank space for drivers to write down their license plate numbers. Eighty thousand fobs were hand-delivered to locations, groups, and individuals who would be helpful familiarizing parking patrons with the new parking meters. The campaign included a how-to video, tri-fold brochures, FAQs, and a 24/7 help desk. “Meter Greeters” were dispatched city-wide to distribute key fobs and guide parkers through the use of the new meters.

Takeaway: When confronting a change, be creative. Low-cost, grassroots approaches can have a huge impact when designed to reach target audiences with attention-grabbing tools that make the change easy to manage.

Parking Matters® Award
University of Alaska, Parking Services
Building a Positive View of Parking with a Permit Photo Contest
The University of Alaska at Anchorage (UAA) Parking Services team knew its department was not always viewed in a positive manner. In 2008, the department launched an annual Through Your Eyes Parking Services Photo Contest to showcase the university campus in a new light and build more positive perceptions of parking and Parking Services. The first-place winner receives a free annual parking permit with the winning photo printed on it. The five runners-up receive free semester parking permits.

The contest is promoted via emails, posters, and an ad in the campus newspaper, all of which feature winning photos from the previous year. Parking Services also places ads on digital TV screens around campus.

Takeaway: Contests with prizes are a great way to increase visibility for parking systems. For contests and programs that repeat each year, explore ways to improve program elements.

Cindy Campbell is associate director for university police at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and co-chair of IPI’s Parking Matters® Committee. She can be reached at ccampbel@calpoly.edu or 805.756.6658.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is vice president of institutional services with SP Plus and co-chair of IPI’s Parking Matters® Committee. He can be reached at cjones@spplus.com or 208.350.6814.

TPP-2014-07-Spreading the Good Word

Are We Prepared

TPP-2014-07-Are We PreparedBy Dan Barion

If someone had asked me on Sept. 10, 2001, what I thought I would be doing in 2014, at the very bottom of my list of responses would have been serving as chief of public safety for the City of Tampa Parking Division. Back then, I was a detective investigator with the City of New York Police Department (NYPD). I was past the halfway mark of my NYPD career and having a great time in my role as a detective in the Organized Crime & Control Bureau. Little did any of us know what the next day had in store for us.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a first responder at the World Trade Center site in New York. What happened there that beautiful Tuesday morning was true evil, and no one’s eyes should ever have to see the results of the malicious deed that took place. Graphic details are not important; we have all seen the news footage. My NYPD career path curved that day, as I received an injury that would eventually lead to the end of the job I so loved.

After the area now known as Ground Zero and the landfill on Staten Island were thoroughly searched for evidence and remains, the post-disaster education of the NYPD began. We studied events of terrorism from around the world and learned how to prevent future attacks. Most of this training was very detailed and full of information.

After leaving the NYPD, I found myself part of the parking industry. Not long after making my career switch, I realized there are steps my new industry could take to lessen our levels of vulnerability to a terrorist attack.

Parking as Target
Let’s take a moment to discuss why our locations could end up as targets:

  • Many of our facilities are large.
  • Many are used in conjunction with large events (concerts, university and professional sports events, political functions and conventions, religious gatherings). These events draw two “must haves” for all terrorists: large crowds and media on hand to broadcast the results of an attack.
  • By their nature, garages stack hundreds or thousands of vehicles in a number of stories. Each of those vehicles stores numerous gallons of combustible fuel that, when ignited, can cause chaos, death, serious injuries, and scary video clips for the world to see.
  • To some, parking facilities represent capitalism. This automatically makes them potential targets to both anarchists and terrorists.
  • Not everyone takes parking security seriously. This makes us an easy target.

The first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 was carried out by placing a bomb-filled vehicle in the underground parking garage of the targeted tower. The destruction was massive, but the building held firm and casualties were minimal for such a large, enclosed bombing.

One of the focal points of the training I received with the police department was planning for not if, but when, a large-scale attack happens again. Terrorists (domestic and foreign), anarchists, and other groups with radical agendas are out there and are not going away. This is why our diligence must always be running at 100 percent. Here a few parking-specific ideas we can implement to give us an edge:

  • Have some sort of visible security. Simply placing an unoccupied vehicle with security markings in a facility can be a deterrent.
  • Use the law to your advantage. There is nothing that says we can’t make general inquiries of people: “How are you today?” “I see you have been standing here for some time. Is everything OK?” “I saw you park on level five and wonder why you’re walking around on level nine?” Let people in our facilities know we are aware of their presence. They don’t have to answer your questions, but not doing so should raise your level of suspicion. Contact the authorities.
  • Open your eyes! If you see someone taking photos, ask what he is doing. Is a car back-heavy? Are people loitering in areas other than those in which they parked? Call the authorities.
  • Spend some money. If funding allows, install cameras and/or hire a security team. Customer service is always a priority. Therefore, have your security team get on a first-name basis with your regular customers. Patrons will feel more comfortable approaching a friendly face and advising someone they know of suspicious activity than they will approaching a stranger with their suspicions. Try to keep security turnover to a minimum. If you have security, use signs to post their contact number. Security vehicles with high-powered, multi-colored strobe lighting can give off the appearance that there are numerous vehicles patrolling. And add physical impediments where you can. Physical barriers such as bollards or heavy planters allow a level of protection from vehicles ramming a structure and hinder vehicles from being placed to close to a location.
  • Never Let Your Guard Down. See something suspicious? Report it. Call 911. Take out your phone and snap photos or a video. Record license plate numbers and physical descriptions. Do something. Remember that complacency is our enemy.

How We Do It
Here in the City of Tampa, we have taken a proactive approach with our public safety team. We have installed cameras throughout our facilities, and all of our public safety officers have the tools they need to effectively do their jobs, including intensive training from the Tampa Police Department and others we’ve brought in for teaching events.

Our officers have been empowered to make decisions in the field and implement the skills they have learned in our training programs. We have built a good relationship with the Tampa Police Department and our officers have direct radio communication with their officers. This allows for immediate transmittal of observed criminal activity and increased response times.

While no plan is foolproof, vigilance can give us the edge. The one asset we have that is vital to a successful security plan is our frontline employees. They are out there in the trenches day in and out. Ask for their feedback and input. Let them know they can speak up if something is just not right. They know our facilities better than anyone. They will be the first individuals to see that strange package sitting alone; they will notice things that were not there the previous day. Encourage them to report these out-of-place observations no matter how insignificant they appear.

The goal here is not to create an environment of paranoia. It is to remember to implement all the knowledge we have gained in preventing future attacks. We also must keep up with new technology as it is developed. We owe all who patronize and work at our facilities the safest possible environment. This can only be done by keeping in mind that we are in a post-Sept. 11 world and we must never get lax in our prudence to prevent future attacks.

Combating terrorism is a combined effort of many. It’s imperative that we all jump on the team. I was there Sept. 11—I know the reality of what can happen. I hope you’ll never forget.

Dan Barion is chief of public safety for the City of Tampa, Fla. He can be reached at dan.barion@tampagov.net or 813.274.8244.

TPP-2014-07-Are We Prepared

Paying the Freight

TPP-2014-07-Paying the FreightBy Duke Hanson

Whether you live in, work in, or just visit dense urban centers, it is likely that you’ve had to run the on-street gauntlet of double-parked delivery vehicles. Certainly, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has noticed, as that agency attributes a significant amount of city gridlock to restrictions on freight movement, including a lack of adequate parking space for these types of vehicles. It has been estimated that delivery trucks parked curbside in downtown areas cause 947,000 hours of vehicle delay annually.

We know trucks operated by FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, and others are essential to urban commerce; businesses and commercial establishments depend on the delivery of goods and services. And with the rise of Internet shopping, courier and delivery services are more important to urban commerce than ever.

Given the dependency on their services, operators of large and small commercial vehicle fleets are important stakeholders in the parking community. And, as with all stakeholders, policies and mechanisms must be put in place to support their interests. For example, some cities have urged delivery fleets to shift their deliveries to off-peak times. Restricting on-street parking meter use to delivery vehicles only during periods of low demand is another strategy that has been well-received by this constituency. Regardless of the measures put in place, it is safe to assume that delivery vehicles will continue to park in an illegal manner—double parked, in crosswalks, in front of fire hydrants, etc.—and continue to get parking tickets in mass quantities.

Doing Business
In New York City (NYC), 20 to 30 percent of the approximately 10 million parking tickets write each year are issued to commercial/delivery companies. During the first three months of 2013, FedEx amassed $1.8 million worth of NYC parking violations. Similarly, UPS reports that it pays NYC more than $1 million in parking fines each quarter.

For large package and freight shipping companies, the dollars spent paying parking tickets are just another operating cost, but that cost is significant. As referenced in Crain’s New York Business in May, “The cost to businesses is steep, but the windfall for the city is huge: an expected $550 million this year from parking violations, compared with $197 million from parking meters.” In most cases, the larger fleet operators consider this a cost of doing business—a cost that is surely passed along to their customers.

Usually, the operator of a cited delivery vehicle does not own it, meaning that if a citation is received during the course of business, the driver is not legally responsible for payment—the vehicle owner is. However, the vehicle owner may never know a citation was issued. With these conditions in place, it’s critical that a city’s on-street parking management program have a working relationship with the owners of vehicle fleets to provide a systematic, fair process for ensuring these citations are paid. To accomplish this, many large-city parking management agencies have established fleet programs for companies that operate a large number of vehicles to track and pay for the tickets issued to their fleets on an individual, ticket-by-ticket basis. One of the benefits to the fleet operators is that they can pay citations on a monthly basis in response to invoices that itemize each ticket assigned to each vehicle in the fleet.

Municipal Programs
The fleet program established by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s (LADOT) Office of Parking Management comprises more than 250 fleet companies (including rental car agencies), with more than 1.2 million fleet or rental vehicles enrolled. To ensure there is adequate organizational focus, LADOT’s Parking Violations Bureau staff includes a collections manager and collections analyst who have responsibility for fleet program administration.

While not as large as New York or Los Angeles, the City of New Haven, Conn., has a significant population of vehicle fleets, including that of Yale University, which is a prominent local constituent. The New Haven Department of Finance, which is responsible for citation processing-related services, relies on its parking management information system to administer its fleet program and help fleet operators better manage the citations they receive. This fleet management system module tracks all events pertaining to fleet account activation/termination, plate additions/terminations, and invoice generations. Noticing and invoicing for citations issued to vehicles in the program are consolidated to increase efficiency, reduce program noticing costs, and provide participants with a simplified method for responding to the citations. And more importantly, when payments are not received in a timely manner, sanctions can be imposed for noncompliance, including termination from the fleet program. When that happens, the system automatically reinstates all normal sanctions and enforcement actions (i.e., booting, towing, registration hold, etc.) for the vehicles in that fleet.

Ideally, a fleet management system also should provide authorized fleet operators with credential-based secure online access to their own accounts to relieve city staff of ongoing administrative tasks such as:

  • Updating account contact information.
  • Adding plates, with activation dates, belonging to the fleet account.
  • Terminating plates, with termination dates, belonging to the fleet account.
  • Updating plate information.
  • Viewing and printing current invoices.

Cities thrive when their transportation systems support user-supplier relationships, such as the interdependency between businesses and those that deliver their goods and services. Clearly, delivery vehicle drivers often have little choice but to violate parking regulations as they make their rounds. So many cities, with help from their systems and services providers, have instituted programs and business rules to accommodate a group of stakeholders that is the lifeblood of a thriving business community.

While some will contend that these accommodations undermine enforcement and violate sound parking, transportation mobility, and sustainability principles, more comprehensive congestion and mobility management strategies have yet to emerge. Seattle’s Department of Transportation (SDOT) is currently evaluating new strategies for managing downtown commercial vehicle load zones (CVLZs). Through a pilot program funded by a grant from the FHWA, SDOT will assess the merits and effectiveness using technology and pricing strategies for the more efficient use of downtown CVLZs.
While measures such as this are in the incubator, it is safe to assume that in the near term delivery vehicles will continue to park in an illegal manner and will continue to get parking tickets in mass quantities. Parking administrators in municipalities with pockets of urban density can look to their peers in New York City, Los Angeles, New Haven, and other municipalities for strategies that address the needs of this important parking stakeholder and optimize parking citation revenue.

Duke Hanson is vice president, strategic initiatives, with Duncan Solutions, Inc. He can be reached at dhanson@duncansolutions.com or 877.886.8698.

TPP-2014-07-Paying the Freight

Professional Perfection

TPP-2014-07-Professional PerfectionBy Larry Cohen, CAPP, and Gary Means, CAPP

Nearly every office has one: that single person who shines nearly every day. Whether it’s a winning smile that gets everyone happy or the person who always lends a hand, these individuals are stand-out professionals who boost their colleagues, customers, and the parking industry as a whole.

Each year, IPI recognizes the best of the best with its Professional Recognition Program awards. Nominated by their supervisors and peers, these are the people and programs who stand as examples to their colleagues around the country.

We say the competition is tough every year, but this year seemed especially competitive, with many distinguished and dedicated professionals and programs nominated for awards.

These are truly the cream of the crop. They received their awards at the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo in Dallas to lots of well-deserved applause.

Staff Memberof the Year
Wendy Glenn
University of Georgia

Wendy Glenn does a seemingly ordinary job extraordinarily well. As a parking monitor in the University of Georgia South Deck, she has had an exceptionally positive effect on customer service. Her standards of conduct and delightful interactions with visitors have also enhanced the professional reputation of her department and the industry.

Glenn has made significant contributions to her department’s 43 award wins in recent years, including IPI’s Parking Organization of the Year in 2011. She was named the Parking Association of Georgia’s 2014 Staff Member of the Year as well.

Known for displaying an exceptional attitude in her interactions with customers, Glenn has a reputation for always smiling and presenting herself in a professional manner in her appearance, enthusiasm, and general positive outlook. Parking is often the first and last impression a visitor has of the university, and Glenn leaves a positive impression on thousands of visitors, some of whom have commented that she’s friendly, charming, and attentive and offers terrific customer service, going above and beyond to ensure that everyone who visits the deck leaves with a smile.

Many visitors to the Georgia Center are elderly, and Glenn goes out of her way to assist them, helping carry items to their cars as part of her routine. She is a key member of the organization’s integrated processes improvement team, which seeks to make department-wide improvements. She also serves as co-leader of the Integrated Program teams, a competency-aligned organization essential to the university’s Parking Services department. Additionally, she is involved in Operation Safe-Drive, an award-winning program that provides free vehicle inspections for faculty, staff, and students.

Great customer service can only happen when employees demonstrate positive attitudes, and Glenn exemplifies this commitment. She is a consummate professional, leader, and role model for her peers and a bright spot in the days of thousands of university visitors.

Supervisor of the Year
Joseph Wlostowski
Binghamton University

Joe Wlostowski has dedicated himself to the parking industry for more than 22 years. He is passionate, ambitious, resourceful, knowledgeable, and generous and known on the Binghamton University campus as a true professional and credit to his industry.

Wlostowski arrives at work every morning with a smile and a can-do attitude, offering his talents and skills to solve whatever challenges arise. Knowing other departments are stretched thin during busy times, he volunteers to help, either directly or by contacting the right people elsewhere. His positive attitude is contagious and quickly spreads to anyone he encounters.

Not afraid of hard work, he works well under pressure. When President Barack Obama visited campus in 2013, Wlostowski grabbed a post-hole digger and got to work with his staff, pounding 800 posts into the ground to restrict pedestrians from entering the motorcade route, getting the job done in less than 48 hours. His energy and creativity readied the campus for a once-in-a-lifetime event. He’s also known as the guy who can fix anything; when a pay station recently jammed, he calmly took it to his office, disassembled it, and saved $1,400 fixing it himself. Best of all, the meters were only out of service for a day. He’s known for meeting those sorts of challenges in a professional manner, offering suggestions and feedback that help both his and other departments.

He’s also a key part of the surrounding neighborhood, recently spending an entire weekend painting the exterior of an elderly neighbor’s home. He never asked for anything in return; in fact, he never does. He’s also organized building repair for the Broome County Humane Society, gathering up staff and friends to get the job done, and a nice side benefit was positive press for the parking department. Every February, he orchestrates a Have a Heart campaign to collect food and supplies for the Humane Society as well.

Wlostowski is known for his generosity, knowledge, and willingness to get in and get the job done, which makes him a top-rate supervisor.

James M. Hunnicutt, CAPP,
Parking Professional of the Year

Joshua Kavanagh, CAPP
University of Washington

In more than a decade working in parking and transportation, Joshua Kavanagh, CAPP, has taken leadership roles in program management, education, association leadership, industry advocacy, and the larger community.
Kavanagh stepped into some big shoes when he took over management of the University of Washington Parking and Transportation Department. Rather than being daunted by a great legacy, however, he quickly set about tackling some tall finance hurdles. He began by reassessing departmental staff and resources and beginning the difficult task of rebuilding the program’s financial stability. In four years, he established a truly first-rate team and took the program to a new level. This included:

  • Implementing a new business model and building a $16 million reserve in four years and allowing strategic reinvestment.
  • Serving as primary contributor to all reserve allocation and funding strategy that saved 600,000 hours of transit service per year in King County.
  • Securing $3.2 million in federal funding for campus cycling infrastructure.
  • Instituting a behavior-change strategy that allowed for the loss of 600 spaces without forcing relocations.
  • Achieving LEED Platinum certification for a new transportation services center and winning multiple awards.
  • Being selected to participate in the iSustain research mission to learn about urban sustainability in Denmark and Sweden.

Kavanagh was instrumental in changes to IPI’s education programs that will make them valuable for years to come. He was the primary author of IPI’s Professional Development Framework; led IPI’s efforts to create a strategic alliance with the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT); and served as president of the Pacific and Inter-Mountain Parking and Transportation Association.

Currently president of ACT, Kavanagh continues to work to promote a broader vision of the industry and the integration of parking and transportation into a broader set of inter-related access management strategies.

Parking Organization of the Year
University of Washington Transportation Services

Lean management has been key to success for the University of Washington Transportation Services department. This complex organization serves the needs of a large metropolitan university campus and major regional medical center.

A frequent award winner, the department has previously been recognized with an ACT Marketing & Outreach Award and a Diamond Ring Award for Outstanding Leadership, along with Zipcar’s Wheels of Change award and being named a Bicycle-Friendly University (Silver) by the League of American Bicyclists. The campus was also named a Best Workplace for Commuters and recognized as one of the country’s 100 Best Fleets.

Transportation Services delivers customer-focused resources to a community of 65,000 people, many of whom commute to the campus for school or work. More than 80 percent of trips to campus are made by modes other than driving alone, and an estimated 2,500 visitors park on campus every day.

UW Transportation Services and its individual departments are responsible for everything from representation on federal, state, and local transportation issues to planning, financing, and developing a multi-modal transportation infrastructure. The department also maintains parking resources for 12,000 vehicles and 6,000 bicycles, manages parking for events that host up to 72,000 people, manages a fleet of 650 vehicles, and operates shuttle programs throughout campus.

During the last two years, UW Transportation Services migrated nearly 90,000 customers across five campuses to smartcard technology to align the U-PASS campus transportation program with regional transportation systems. It also reorganized operations to better reflect services offered and streamline service delivery, and took action to achieve LEED Platinum recognition for its new University Transportation Center—the first LEED Platinum rating for the Seattle campus and the first LEED-CI (commercial interiors) rating for the entire university.

The department implemented its First and Last Impressions initiative that brought national leaders to campus to teach staff to play key roles in providing exceptional customer experiences. And it implemented Lean principles to every aspect of the organization, allowing each individual to play a role in identifying common strategic goals that eliminate duplication and minimize waste. They give every employee responsibility for recognizing where change is needed to reach goals and empower them to make those changes.

UW Transportation Services stands as a model for other departments, going far beyond simple parking to improve overall quality of life for everyone on campus.

Larry Cohen, CAPP, is executive director of the Lancaster Parking Authority and co-chair of IPI’s Professional Recognition Committee. He can be reached at lcohen@lancasterparkingauthority.com or 717.299.0907.

Gary Means, CAPP, is executive director of the Lexington & Fayette County Parking Authority and co-chair of IPI’s Professional Recognition Committee. He can be reached at gmeans@lexingtonky.gov or 859.233.7275.

TPP-2014-07-Professional Perfection

Outstanding Accomplishments

TPP-2014-07-Outstanding AccomplishmentsBy Tracey Bruch, CAPP

Every year, the International Parking Institute (IPI) honors the best in parking design and programs with its Awards of Excellence, which have become something of an industry hallmark. This year was no exception. What was exceptional, however, was the number of truly outstanding entries that were received. Choosing a handful to honor was difficult to say the least.

Parking has come a long way in recent years; utilitarian concrete boxes have been replaced with art-filled community centers. Garages and surface lots have morphed into landmarks and neighborhood gathering spaces while serving as hubs between privately owned vehicles, cities, campuses, and other forms of transportation. No longer places to be dealt with as we go from here to there, parking structures and lots have become a pleasant part of the journey, doing their part to make our cities and towns greener, safer, and nicer places to be.

It is our pleasure to present the winners of the 2014 IPI Awards of Excellence, with our heartiest congratulations.

Best Design of a Parking Facility
with Fewer than 800 Spaces

City of Santa Monica Parking Structure 6
Santa Monica, Calif.
Owner: City of Santa Monica
Project participants:
Morley Builders, General Contractor
International Parking Design, Architect of Record
Miriam Mulder, City Architect
Christopher Dishlip, Civil Engineer
Frank Ching, City Parking Administrator
Project Cost: $45 million

Inspired by Paris’s famous Centre Pompidou, this attractive structure invites all parking patrons to make their way to the street, reducing wayfinding confusion and making an excellent impression on city visitors. The garage’s dramatic red diagonal staircase offers a clear path in or out, exercise, visibility, and security, and a spectacular ocean view. But that’s just one feature that makes Parking Structure 6 a winner.

Parking Structure 6 is part of a strategic plan to
retrofit, rebuild, and plan for future parking needs with a focus on sustainability. Its prime location in downtown Santa Monica, adjacent to the pedestrian-friendly Third Street Promenade, makes it a natural spot for visitors and residents alike to begin their days downtown.

The structure’s façade functions as a light enhancement screen and was carefully crafted to invite natural light deep into the building. The portion that is unfolded has holes that allow low-angle light to pass into the structure and provide a high degree of visual transparency, both offering natural light all day long and minimizing the use of electric lighting. It has already become a city landmark, too.

Materials used in the structure are durable and easy to clean, and the panel system is resistant to the corrosive coastal environment. The structure was constructed with a big focus on sustainability and designed to meet LEED silver standards. It offers 744 parking spaces, including 11 accessible spaces and 15 van-accessible spaces, in eight above-ground and three-and-a-half below-ground floors; it can function as two separate structures when necessary.

Enclosed bicycle racks on the ground can hold 72 bicycles, and an additional 40 can be held in bollards on the street. Thirty electric vehicle (EV) charging stations welcome alternate-fuel vehicles, and infrastructure was included for an additional 130 stations to be added in the future. Solar panels on the roof power much of the structure, which largely operates off the grid; it also features energy-efficient lighting systems and other energy-saving components.

Drivers and pedestrians alike are impressed with the structure, which keeps walkers safe on designated walkways separated from roadways. Drivers find a guidance system that displays car counts on each floor—those counts are exported to the city’s website and smartphone app in real time. Automated payment systems keep congestion down at exits, and staff are employed to serve as ambassadors instead of cashiers. A license plate recognition (LPR) system offers additional security and vehicle control.

Best Design of a Parking Facility
with 800 or More Spaces

Ajax GO Station
Toronto, Canada
Owner: GO Transit, a Division of Metrolinx
Project Participants:
IBI Group, Architect, Architect of Record, Landscape,
Civil Engineer, Planning, and Traffic Engineer
Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd., Structural Engineer,
Engineer of Record, and Parking Consultant
Kenaidan Contracting Ltd., Design Builder
MCW Consultants Limited, Mechanical and
Electrical Engineer
Project Cost: $55 million

Parking demand at Toronto’s GO Ajax multimodal transit station had reached capacity, and while several surface parking lots were built in recent years, structured parking was chosen as a next step to accommodate future and present demand and make better use of the land. Constructed to serve patrons of the GOTransit station, this structure was designed to be an urban landmark and appears as a green box floating lightly above the ground, anchored by glass towers with an origami-inspired canopy above.

The upper three floors of the building were fitted with an array of green aluminum tubes installed vertically in a scalloped wave pattern. Pre-cast concrete columns serve as the visual bones of the structure. Structural spandrel panels were installed on either side of perimeter columns to clarify the notion of an upper mass resting on columns below.

The lower levels of the façade were finished with an asymmetric system of perforated screens that appear as a cell-like pattern beneath the skin of the tubes. Exit stairs and elevator cores serve both their practical functions and as wayfinding beacons. All these elements combined create a varied system of filters for light to enter the building.

This six-level structure houses 1,500 parking spaces and includes an elevator tower and canopy renewal program for the passenger rail platform and a new canopy system that connects the parking facility with an existing bus loop. The garage offers one inbound and one outbound path of travel and circulates the vehicles around two-way traffic flow on sloped ramps. Efficient circulation was a priority of the project, particularly around a Kiss & Ride area; a single unimpeded drive was designed to serve as a feeder there.

The building’s vehicle entrance and exit are located on one side, which is opposite to the pedestrian tunnel entrance to the rail platforms, isolating circulation flow and simplifying vehicular movement to street connections.

The cost to build this structure was about $30,000 per space, which is comparable or less expensive than other structures in the area. This was done thanks to use of a pre-cast concrete structural system, while durable materials were employed to minimize future maintenance costs.

Designers aimed to meet LEED silver requirements, and sustainable initiatives in the structure include erosion control, waste management, use of regional content and recycled construction materials, low-emitting materials, and low water consumption, along with efficient lighting systems and controls. A white membrane roof was designed to both mitigate snow removal costs and accommodate photovoltaic panels that connect to a net metering system. EV charging stations were incorporated in the building and a stall sensor system lets patrons know where open spaces are available.

Best Design/Implementation
of a Surface Parking Lot

Carpark 251, 201 Claremont Street
Toronto, Canada
Owner: Toronto Parking Authority
Project Participants:
Marton Smith Landscape Architects, Architect
EGF Associates, Planner
Cook Consulting Engineers Limited,
Stormwater Management
Mopal Construction Limited, General Contractor
Project Cost: $510,840

Designed to set a new sustainable precedent for the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA), this 43-space carpark was built to meet and exceed the city’s development and greening standards for surface parking facilities. Working with the local community, the city’s goal was to meet short-term parking needs while offering an aesthetic improvement to the neighborhood.

The lot was designed to be barrier-free and easy to navigate. A handicapped parking stall was located adjacent to a pay-and-display machine at the main entrance, and a series of masonry seat walls front a walkway. Plants and ornamental metal screen the parking area while offering a natural visual landscape for the neighborhood.

A variety of elements were incorporated into the lot to accomplish a sustainable and attractive end product. These include a paving area along the north property line that offers both pedestrian connections and a seating area that was requested by the community. Raised concrete planting beds screen the parking area from neighboring properties, reduce salt damage, and protect neighbors from pedestrian foot traffic.

Native plants were chosen for their year-round interest and ability to screen, while permeable pavers create a sustainable stormwater management system. A combination of high-albedo surface materials and tree plantings was designed to reduce the urban heat island effect, and a unique living wall provides a green fence made of five beautiful willows.

Two pay-and-display machines offer credit card or cash payment, and the lot features a variety of lighting solutions that illuminate both parking spaces and walkways. It features a continuous loop design with stall layout at 90 degrees, along with generous stall dimensions for ease of use. Directional signs were installed throughout the neighborhood’s main streets, while four bike rings were installed onsite in a highly visible location. Lighting is photocell-controlled to automatically adjust with natural light.

Community involvement was key in the construction of this lot. As a result of community input, the TPA altered the original carpark design to incorporate extensively landscaped areas and the walkway and seating that turn it into a neighborhood space. The final product was applauded by the neighborhood, which values both its parking and its gathering potential.

Best Parking Facility Rehabilitation or Restoration
Memphis International Airport Ground Transportation Center
Memphis, Tenn.
Owner: Memphis Shelby County Airport Authority
Project Participants:
Walker Parking Consultants, Inc., Project Management, and Parking Consultant and Structural Engineer
OGCB Incorporated, Electrical Engineer of Record
LRK, Inc., Concept Architect
Self + Tucker Architects, Architect of Record
Parsons Transportation Group Inc., Program Manager
Walker Restoration Consultants, Inc.,
Restoration Engineering
Flintco, Inc., General Contractor
Clark Dixon Associates, Graphics and Wayfinding
GALA Engineering, Mechanical and Plumbing
Pickering Firm, Inc., Roadways/Civil Engineering
Ritchie Smith Associates, Landscape Architect
Project Cost: $16 million

In a unique renovation, parts of an existing short/long-term parking structure at Memphis International Airport were removed to create an atrium that incorporates a pedestrian plaza with moving walkways that connect the terminal with new and pre-existing parking. The walking distance to the terminal was reduced by incorporating 480 feet of moving walkway underneath attractive fabric canopies designed to match the airport terminal’s iconic champagne flute sculptures. They are illuminated by LED fixtures controlled by a photocell, which reflect diffused light back onto the plaza. Glass canopies at each end of the fabric structures offer weather protection, and the plaza area features water features, landscaping, hardscaping, and music by local artists.

Existing parking structures were renovated and received concrete repairs, traffic-topping recoat and replacement, latex-modified overlay, re-striping, expansion joint repair/replacement, and floor strengthening to support valet operations.

A PARCS system was reorganized to integrate the new parking facilities, and a new valet sub-system allows curbside drop-off and pick-up, tracking vehicles from the time they are picked up by attendants until they’re returned to their owners. A new LPR system captures photos of vehicles at entry and exit, and wireless handheld devices track vehicles through control points.

Three tunnels connecting the existing garage to the terminal were upgraded with stone glass panels, metal panel ceilings, terrazzo floors, thermoset resin panels, and cove-mounted LED strip lights that produce asymmetrical lighting that accents the finishes.

Most demolition work was performed at night, but the Federal Aviation Administration limited the use of tall construction equipment and large floodlights; the contractor used a combination of concrete wet saws, jackhammers, and crushers to control dust, noise, and scrap value. Contractors also scheduled projects around high-traffic holiday seasons and shielded open areas of the garage from construction areas with full-height plywood boards that were decorated to mask as closure walls. The entire project was driven by a focus to get people into and out of the airport seamlessly.

Innovation in a Parking Operation or Program
LADOT Express Park
Los Angeles
Owner: City of Los Angeles, Department of Transportation
Project Participants:
LADOT Parking Meters Division, Project Manager
Xerox State & Local Solutions, Prime Contractor
Xerox Innovation Group, Pricing Engine Developer
Project Cost: $18.5 million

LA Express Park was a U.S. Department of Transportation-
sponsored demonstration project and aims to relieve traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, and improve transit efficiency by applying the principles of demand-based pricing.

This complete intelligent transportation system employs vehicle sensors and a real-time parking guidance system to optimize the use of public on- and off-street parking in the downtown area.

Los Angeles has approximately 6,300 on-street metered parking spaces in the project area that, until this project started, offered consistent pricing during daily enforcement hours with variety dictated by broad zones. High-demand areas had little parking availability, and low-demand areas were underused.

Sensor data showed that in many areas, demand for parking remained high for an additional two hours after enforcement ended, so enforcement was extended by that much time. Fixed rates were established by blockface demand rather than large zones, and three Monday-Friday pricing periods were then put into place with a single all-day Saturday rate. Each block’s pricing is now set based on occupancy thresholds and designed to increase parking availability and reduce the need to circle for parking. Surveys and analysis found that demand has shifted to lower-priced, lower-occupancy
areas, and that 76 percent of drivers would park in less-expensive areas nearby rather than higher-priced spaces. Parking demand was brought into line with supply in both congested and under-used block faces without hurting parking revenue.

This project brought all the technology into a single information system that allowed the user to manage parking resources intelligently. Some innovations were used for the first time anywhere, including:

  • A pricing engine driven by a unique set of algorithms that calculates an ideal block rate by demand and time of day.
  • A complete parking guidance system with a web-based application to identify available parking locations, prices, and policies; apps that guide parkers to available parking; on-street dynamic signs that report availability; and an interactive voice response system for locating parking.
  • The ability to set parking rates in real time based on current demand.

Award for Architectural Achievement
Park Place
Missoula, Mont.
Owner: Missoula Parking Commission
Project Participants:
MacArthur, Means & Wells, Architect
Missoula Redevelopment Agency, Partner/Project Manager
Gordon Construction, Contractor
Carl Walker, Parking Consultant/Structural Engineer
Beaudette Consulting Engineers, Structural Engineer
WGM Group, Civil Engineer
Landscape Architecture Studio, Landscape Architect
DC Engineering, Mechanical/Electrical Engineer
Project Cost: $7.86 million

Park Place is a five-level, 333-space public parking structure with 3,000 square feet of retail space in the heart of Missoula, Mont. Five design goals were established for this project:

  • It should be fresh, urban, and progressive.
  • It should support the urban design and economic vitality of the city and help activate the street.
  • It should maximize the number of parking spaces per dollar, considering both construction cost and life-cycle costs.
  • It should be parker-friendly: easy to navigate, light and bright, and safe and accessible.
  • It should demonstrate municipal stewardship for the environment.

The small site dictated a single-helix design with two-way flow. A post-tensioned structure increases the sense of height and airiness inside and improves slab durability. Cast-in-place concrete maximizes the use of local materials and labor, and the project is net-zero, with a photovoltaic array that completely powers it. State-of-the-art lighting and controls systems and a green elevator reduce electrical load by 64 percent from energy code standards.

In good weather, the project’s outside deli seating area is filled with patrons. Cut-off light fixtures were used to provide appropriate light levels while complying with the city’s dark sky ordinance; lighting and signage are concentrated at pedestrian and vehicle entry points. Landscaping connects the building to place, recalling the rivers that formed the Missoula valleys. The project also incorporates public art, including an installation selected for its scale and relation to the building and landscape; it is an abstraction of waves in a river.

The parking commission’s new logo appears as 12-foot diameter wayfinding signs on the most prominent corner of the building. The signs were carefully integrated with the swoop of the artwork and have become a prominent feature of the façade design.
Land had to be purchased from a reluctant-to-negotiate corporation and a nearby hotel. Ultimately, the project became a model of cooperation between public and private sectors.

Award for New Sustainable Parking & Transportation Facilities Excellence
Boston Common Garage
Owner: Massachusetts Convention Center Authority
Project Participants:
Massachusetts Convention Center Authority,
James E. Rooney, Executive Director
Massachusetts Convention Center Authority,
Fred Peterson, Director of Facilities Operations
Dave Levesque, Amano McGann, Account Manager
Sammy Yemane, SP+ Corporation, Facility Manager
Project Cost: $508,989

The Boston Common Garage, a 1,300-space facility beneath America’s oldest public park, is as green below as it is above. From new EV charging stations to a partnership with Zipcar, this is one of the most environmentally friendly parking structures in Boston.

Cashier booths at entrances and exits were removed and replaced with pay-on-foot kiosks at all four elevator banks. Automatic vehicle identification (AVI) readers were installed to read EZ Pass transponders for monthly parking patrons, significantly reducing vehicle idle times and carbon emissions.

Comingled recycling receptacles were installed to capture everything from newspapers to plastic, glass, and fiberboard and keep all those materials out of the trash. Bins were placed at each egress point for customers, reducing waste diversion by two tons as a result. Additionally, EV charging stations and priority parking spaces for hybrid vehicles were added in a “green zone” on the middle level of the garage. The new green area is branded and very close to the entrance and exit ramps. Wayfinding signs lead drivers to the area, which can also be used by Zipcar hybrid or plug-in vehicles; Zipcar’s on-site fleet added several Honda Accord plug-in hybrids at the same time. There is also priority parking for hybrids at each of the garage’s four entrances. Charging stations were funded through a U.S. Department of Energy grant. Energy-efficient lighting completes the sustainable picture; goals were met and will be continued in the future.

Tracey Bruch, CAPP, is regional manager with Duncan Solutions and co-chair of IPI’s Awards of Excellence Committee. She can be reached at tbruch@duncansolutions.com or 866.353.7156.

TPP-2014-07-Outstanding Accomplishments

Building Your Organization’s Brand

TPP-2014-07-Building Your Organization’s BrandBy Bill Smith

One of the essentials of successful marketing is building a brand key audiences care about and one for which they are willing to pay. While many parking organizations don’t give a lot of thought to their brands, every organization should. Cities’ brands should help fill their parking facilities; consultants’ brands should help attract clients needing design or planning services; and technology and other equipment providers’ brands should appeal to parking owners and operators.

I recently spoke with Brent Robertson, a partner with branding firm Fathom, about branding and the important role it plays for parking organizations. He had some terrific insight to share.

“Often, business-to-business organizations ignore the importance of establishing a meaningful brand,” said Robertson. “Your brand is the sum total of each person’s experience with your organization. It’s what makes them want to hire or work with you again and again.”

Branding: a Definition
One of the challenges organizations have in establishing a brand is that they don’t understand what one is. It’s not merely an image that you express about your organization. It’s how you convey the very essence of your organization.

“Your brand is the promise that you make and keep, the products and services you provide, and the way you make customers feel,” Robertson said. “Ultimately, your brand is the story people tell themselves about you—it’s what and who you become in their eyes.”

I asked Robertson what goes into establishing a brand strategy. He told me it’s a matter of making conscious decisions about what you stand for, who you are, and what difference you make in your world. Once that’s established, you need to be able to talk about these things in ways audiences care about and understand.

“An effective brand strategy reveals a number of things about your organization,” Robertson said. “It reveals your values and cultural drivers, your single-most important commitment, your customers’ fundamental need, the greatest benefit you provide, and how you are different.”

According to Robertson, the most common mistake business-to-business organizations make is only talking about what they’ve done and what they know. They never address who they are. Customers want to build relationships with companies they care about, and if you are successful doing that, they will transact with you again and again. That’s why it’s important to talk about your organizational values and commitments. When you talk about your commitment to sustainability or to creating a safer parking environment, for example, you can attract customers who share similar values.

Equally important is your ability to convey your understanding of your customers’ fundamental challenges and needs and the benefits you provide. When you can demonstrate that you already have a deep understanding of prospective customers’ needs, you are on your way to earning their trust.

The Key to Branding
A final step—and one most organizations miss—is setting yourself apart from your competition. When prospective customers think of you as one of many prospective vendors or parking providers, your chance of winning their business drops exponentially. But if you can establish yourself as the only organization that can meet their unique needs, you are well on your way to winning their business.

Once you’ve figured out how you want customers and prospects to think of you, you can rely on any number of marketing tactics to promote your brand. Your website, a public relations program, social media, electronic publications, and other marketing strategies can be used together to promote your brand to huge numbers of prospective customers.

“When done right, your brand influences how people feel about your company and how much they are willing to pay for your products and services,” Robertson said. “An effective brand strategy doesn’t just make prospective customers take notice of your firm—it makes them need to hire you.”

Bill Smith, APR, is principal of Smith-Phillips Strategic Communications and contributing editor of The Parking Professional. He can be reached at bsmith@smith-phillips.com or 603.491.4280.

TPP-2014-07-Building Your Organization’s Brand

Joining the Electrical Vehicle Age

TPP-2014-07-Joining the Electrical Vehicle AgeBy Mark Pace

Electric vehicles (EV) are currently the topic of a great deal of conversation and legislation in some areas despite the fact that fewer than 1 percent of all new vehicles are plug-in capable. Enforcement of EV charging-only spaces is a challenge for some jurisdictions.

Case in point: Montgomery County, Md., added a new law to the books so police officers could write citations for illegally parking in spaces set aside for charging plug-in vehicles. The county council also proposed a change to the building code to say that any parking facility of 50 spaces or more constructed after a given date must have one charging station per 50 spaces. The committee tabled this proposal for further discussion, noting that the number required seemed onerous given the number of plug-in vehicles. I believe the parking industry and property owners will meet future EV demand without legislation.

I joined the EV age last December when I purchased a 2014 Chevrolet Volt. I have a one-way commute of 35 to 40 miles based on which way I maneuver the Washington, D.C.-area roads between Northern Virginia and Montgomery County. The Volt is rated at 35 miles of driving on a full charge. Driving style can increase or decrease that number and has caused me to pay more attention to how I drive.

According to the Green Car Congress website, “Studies have concluded that optimizing a driver’s driving style can reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 40 percent; exactly how to achieve that optimization across a large and diverse driving population remains an area of active investigation—and one of great opportunity.” Eco-driving is one important step toward sustainable mobility. A smart and effective driving style helps improve quality of life because it benefits the individual and the environment.

Eco-Driving Tips

  • Anticipate traffic flow. Read the road as far ahead as possible and anticipate the flow of traffic. Act instead of react, increase reaction time with an appropriate distance between vehicles, use momentum to optimize the options to balance speed fluctuations in traffic flow, and enable steady driving with constant speed. Try to plan ahead for decelerations and coast when possible. Do not rush to stop signs or traffic signals.
  • Maintain a steady speed. When appropriate, use cruise control to maintain a steady speed. Smooth driving with steady speed saves a lot of fuel compared to the same average speed with sequences of acceleration and braking. Unnecessary speed peaks and aggressive braking not only waste fuel, but also raise stress levels while driving and cause additional safety risks.
  • Check tire pressure frequently. Always keep your tires properly inflated and your vehicle properly aligned, as low tire pressure is a safety risk and wastes fuel.
  • Consider any extra energy required. Use air conditioning and electrical equipment wisely, and switch them off when not needed. Electrical energy is converted from extra fuel burned in a combustion engine, so electrical equipment doesn’t work for free—it always costs extra energy and money.

Electric and hybrid vehicles are equipped with an efficiency gauge that, when used, will improve your gas mileage or extend your electric range. I can see right in front of me the effects of rapid acceleration and quick stops and the benefits of smooth deceleration. The automatic engine shutoff feature when stopped has made it to some gasoline engine models. This makes turning the engine off at long traffic lights automatic and seamless.

Our vehicles and how we handle them are among the most effective environmental and sustainable efforts most of us can make in our everyday lives. New and old vehicles can all be operated in a more sustainable way.

Mark Pace is parking and transportation manager at Montgomery College and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at mark.pace@montgomerycollege.edu or 240.567.4213.

TPP-2014-07-Joining the Electrical Vehicle Age

That’s Not What I Ordered

TPP-2014-07-That’s not What I OrderedBy Neill Hurley

None of us would walk into a car dealership and say, “Give me a car, any car will do.” Most of the time, we put a lot of thought into the features and functionalities we need before a final vehicle decision is made. If we don’t spend time thinking through what we need and effectively communicating those needs to the salesperson, we might end up with a burnt orange station wagon when we thought we ordered a maroon sports car.

The procurement of parking technology is infinitely more complex than the car-buying process, but we sometimes fail to make sure requirements are adequately defined and documented before signing on the dotted line. The end result is usually an owner and system users who feel like they didn’t get what they ordered.

Clear and effectively communicated requirements can help ensure you implement a system that meets your needs and the needs of your customers. The following are some best practices that can be used to develop effective requirements:

Identify Key Stakeholders

Including all stakeholders in the process makes sure all needs—or as many as possible—are met. Many users interact with a parking access and revenue control system (PARCS), as an example. These include executive staff, supervisors, mangers, frontline staff, accountants, auditors, maintenance technicians, IT staff, and customers, to name a few. Identify the users and involve them in the entire process, including developing requirements for the system; they’ll be the ones affected by any deficiencies.

Draw on Industry Experience
You’re not the first one to go through this process. Chances are, many of your peers have implemented the same parking technology you’re looking to implement and they’re willing to share their war stories. Reach out to your peers and use their lessons learned to help avoid pitfalls and incorporate elements that worked well. I may be a little biased, but I think consultants are another good resource. We use experience gained through numerous system procurements involving various vendors and end users to help clients develop effective requirements.

Separate Needs from Wants
After you’ve taken the time to glean information from your peers and document your stakeholders’ desires, it’s time to take a look at that long list of needs and identify the wants that may need to be sacrificed to meet other project goals. Do you really need those built-in DVD players in the backseat? Sure, they may keep the kids from killing each other on a long road trip, but are they necessary to get your new car from point A to point B? And are they worth the extra $1,500?

Incorporate Functional Requirements with Performance Metrics
Ensuring that your wants and needs are clearly communicated to the system provider is the most critical part of the process. Requirements documents should be the basis for measuring project success and incorporated into the contract with the system provider. Developing functional requirements for each need on your list with performance metrics that must be met is an effective tool for communicating the desired results you expect from the system without telling the system provider the exact methodology that must be used to provide functionality. There will be the need for incorporating some technical requirements to ensure compliance with certain standards, but where there’s flexibility, functional requirements allow system providers to draw on their experience in developing creative solutions for addressing a desired functionality.

Following these best practices won’t guarantee you’ll get a system that meets 100 percent of your needs, but it will guarantee that simple lack of information won’t sacrifice that hot sports coupe for a burnt orange station wagon.

Neill Hurley is parking consultant, car park management systems, with Walker Parking Consultants/Walker Restoration Consultants. He can be reached at neill.hurley@walkerparking.com or 281.280.0068.

TPP-2014-07-That’s not What I Ordered