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The Parking Spot Takes Branding to a New Level

John Van Horn

“Branding makes a huge difference – after 14 years, our ‘spotted’ vans immediately tell people who we are. They stand for something.” Kevin Shrier Chief Operating Officer of The Parking Spot, talked about his company and where it has gone over the past decade and a half.

“We started with our unique look from the beginning, and it has made a difference. We stand out in a market that is filled with competition.

“We were purchased by Green Courte Partners, LLC last December and it was like being given an extra set of hands,” Shrier said. “The folks at Green Courte know parking, and they know real estate.

“Since we develop properties at major airports around the country, having a partner who knows land development is important. We now have access to the funds we need to continue our growth.”

The Parking Spot has more than 70,000 parking spaces in 40 properties at 24 airports around the U.S. In Houston, for instance, they have three locations at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and two at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).

“Image is extremely important,” Shrier continued. “It’s everything we stand for: service, the customer experience, our sales team. In a competitive environment, often a parking spot is a parking spot. It’s the customer’s experience that brings them back.”

Shrier said that The Parking Spot business is up over last year, but that, in general, the feeling around airports is one of caution.

“Everything seems to be on hold. Businesses are awaiting the outcome of the election before they commit to expansion. This means that we have to be diligent and seek out every customer and ensure they return.”

Rates at off-airport facilities are market-driven and can be based on various factors, including what the competition does, what the airport charges, and location of the parking operation. Close-in lots can charge a bit more because they can offer quicker service to the airport.

Amenity packages also can alter the rate structure. Valet parking and the ability to have a person’s car ready to leave with the fee paid and the engine running can command a higher fee than the vehicle parked on the roof – an elevator ride and a walk away.

Other amenities including high-end shuttles, upscale waiting areas, check-in desks, newspapers and water for patrons all figure when rates are set.

In certain climates, covered parking is important. Protection from sun, hail and snow is a revenue generator. In general, The Parking Spot commands a price premium because of the amenity program it offers.

According to Shrier, the company has attracted a large number of customers to its loyalty program. 50% of their transactions are from loyalty customers. The program offers executive discounts to certain employers and discounts to frequent parkers.

“We link our loyalty card to the customer’s credit card,” Shrier said, “and they have to use only one card. Their discounts and rate structures are automatically applied when they depart.

“Valet? Yes, we provide valet service in some markets, depending on the property and the customer requirements. However, we offer valet at every location when the lot fills. If we have a full lot, we switch to valet and provide the service to customers at the same price as standard parking. We never turn a customer away.”

Since the company was founded, it has had an extensive CCTV monitoring system that connects all its locations with its headquarters in Chicago, so they can monitor each cashier booth in real-time, plus review all aspects of the operations.

“We can both see and hear the interaction between the customer and the cashier and attendants,” Shrier said. “This program greatly assists us in providing good security, plus we can determine if an employee needs coaching to improve customer service.

“We also have cameras and monitors in our shuttles,” he added. “They provide a window of information around an incident, plus the driver can turn them on to record a conversation with a customer. In addition, we monitor the vehicle’s speed and location so we can ensure that drivers are providing the safest possible service.”



John Van Horn is Editor of Parking Today. Contact him at

jvh@parkingtoday.com.



 

Article Abstract from October, 2012




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