A Conversation with Incoming NPA Board Chair Jeff Wolfe
Jeff Wolfe is Founder of The Car Park, a Northwest commercial parking operator that provides managed parking services to commercial real estate owners, universities and cities. Wolfe has owned the company for 10 years. Earlier in his career, he was a Senior VP for Central Parking.
Wolfe takes the helm of the National Parking Association as the organization reelects an entirely new board that includes parking operators, valet services, public sector leaders, industry suppliers and consultants.
The NPA has just launched a new board structure and councils that give unique segments in the parking industry a voice in NPA leadership and a role in research, education and peer networks that address their unique needs.
A little editorial comment here: In the past, the national association was not known for this. But all that has changed. The NPA successfully acquired the National Valet Parking Association by showing that it meets the needs of members. The NPA’s valet members will get access to valet certification, audit training and a parking council, as well as legislative alerts requested by valet owners on topics such as healthcare reform.
According to Wolfe, the NPA is “focused on meaningful value, market growth and bringing parking pros the real tools, training and information they need to succeed and grow their careers, organizations and companies.”
Q: How has bottom-line business pressure changed the parking industry?
A: For the public sector, increased government debt load has put great pressure on parking directors and city managers to increase revenue and net return and reduce slippage through auditing and revenue control. For the private sector, a very competitive parking market means the same, and that the best operators can demonstrate how their practices translate into both top-line and bottom-line returns.
Q: So, you’re saying the industry has common ground? Commercial owners, municipalities, cities and universities all want more bang for their buck?
A: Yes. And, there are very good parking pros throughout the industry delivering good value. But the bar is being raised, and our industry is facing dramatic change. Now more than ever, parking professionals need access to research to understand where the market is going; to peers to make bid/vendor match connections; and to skills that help drive those net results.
Q: Jeff, you will be elected Board Chair in a few days during the 2012 NPA Convention & Expo, Oct. 15-18, at The Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, FL. What’s next for the NPA?
A: Growth. Change. Progress. NPA membership has grown 40% in two years, because we are focusing on the unique needs of parking professionals in solving problems in their jobs and on helping them build the skills for getting bottom-line results.
In 2013, the NPA will launch audit training for on-street, off-street and valet parking. … As an industry, we have to demonstrate effective loss prevention in managing the responsibility of managing the money that parking receives.
Q: Why is the NPA focusing so heavily on parking research?
A: Knowledge is power. The more we as an industry know about market conditions, parking demand, industry purchasing patterns and technology adoption, the better each of us can make smart decisions that manage risk and maximize the potential for growth.
This month, the NPA launches its first Parking Tech Trends report showing how parking is adopting mobile payment, eCommerce and sustainability into its businesses.
In February, the NPA will launch its first Parking Market Demand report, which analyzes population, employment, hospitality, retail, parking construction and economic data to forecast potential parking demand.
Research takes time, money and expertise. The NPA is committed to bringing top-flight researchers and broad sample sizes that provide sound data that business leaders in both the private and public sectors can use as a decision-making tool.
Q: What’s next for the parking industry?
A: Technology change. Automation, “cloud-based” applications, mobile payment, mobile marketing and “Big Data” management. Parking is becoming a more complex business, and automation is the way to standardize and simplify the process. That means big changes for industry suppliers, parking operators, universities, municipalities, valets and consultants. What tech to choose, how it gets deployed, and who manages the process and systems determine success.
We see it as an industry positive that private, public, suppliers and consultants are converging as parking pros move between the private and public sectors. These job transitions mean that we as an industry value the skills everyone brings to the table and that the parking industry needs to stand together.
Automation means parking pros need strong training on business processes, parking management and access to a network of “thought leaders” throughout the industry. You don’t have to have the answer. But you have to be able to find it. The NPA is the place to find the professionals, programs, research and best practices to help you succeed in a changing industry.
Change is indeed in the air at the NPA. For those attending the NPA’s 61st annual convention and expo Oct. 15-18, Wolfe is already delivering on what he says.
There’s an in-depth audit training session. And two sessions from Los Angeles – an overview on its citywide parking management and a deep dive into how to put in place technology systems.
Also, T2 gives a case study on “cloud-based” systems management at universities. And an entire technology track gives the 30,000-foot-view on “smart” cities, technologies and vehicles.
For more information on the convention and expo, and on the
NPA itself, go to www.npapark.org.