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Revenue Control, the Weather and a Happy New Year

John Van Horn

Wow! I have just finished reading the articles on revenue control that you will find in this month's PT. They are written by various vendors and end users in the parking industry. It's an impressive group of stories.
I shamelessly stole the idea of having a group of people from the industry write about a single topic from another magazine. I reached out to about 20, got a dozen responses. My guidance was: "Write anything you want about revenue control." That was it.
You will note that many wrote about what they know best. Diana Perey and Bob Johnson at the U of W wrote about university parking; Jim Eversman at the Wilmington Parking Authority about his recent purchase of new equipment; and Pierre Hubert from Autovu on LPR. Be sure to read Jeff Fitzwilliams' hilarious piece on the history of parking tickets and what he claims they have done to our industry.
Bob Harkins from the U of T gave us a short piece on training your staff, and Tom Rollo over at Scheidt and Bachmann talks about customers and how revenue control doesn't have to be anti-service. We hear from the City of San Francisco on legislating Revenue Control, and Tom Phillips of System Parking on what operators need to do to keep such legislation out of their cities.
Robert Milner holds forth on quality and standards in the parking industry (is he for or against -- who can tell?) and my old buddy PT the Auditor discusses the issues of "Mining for Data" with new revenue systems.
But, my favorite has to be the walk down memory lane by John Lovell. His description of the installation of the first computerized system in his area brought back memories of all the hiccups and problems in the early days of revenue control, those days of reset buttons and lock ups, of unfindable problems and software bugs. (Or is that today?)
These folks put a lot of work into these articles. They are meaty and fun. They took literary license and let their personalities come through. It's not the most exciting subject, but these writers have brought it to life. I guess if ever an issue of Parking Today had a theme, this is it.
By the way, take a look at Industry Notes. A lot is happening in your industry.
* * *
As I write this (in early December), the Northeast is digging out from the season's first snow and ice storm. I am told that this one is an early storm, quite unusual. I wouldn't know about those things. My biggest problem this weekend is whether to use a nine iron or a pitching wedge. Southern California has its problems (fire, flood, earthquakes, riots) but winter weather isn't one of them.
The New Year is upon us. The grim reaper has come and taken the old year away. Most of us, looking back, say good riddance. But that's the best part of this time of year. We get to draw a line and start over. New plans, new projections, new ideas -- a new year.
Many look back and wring their hands over missed deadlines, or poor sales numbers, or problems and issues past. I think that's good if we learn from those issues, but now is time to look forward. Truly make it a new beginning.
I have been traveling quite a bit for the past couple of months and talking to manufacturers and owners across the county. What have I been hearing? Not the headlines in the mainstream media. I have been hearing optimism. The last quarter has been good for many in our business. Manufacturers are getting orders, and purse strings are loosening. One vendor told me that the fourth quarter was so good it made up for the depressing three before it.
We have seen some consolidation in the parking manufacturing market over the past year. A couple of companies have merged, and new life has been breathed into others. PT has seen some of our advertisers leave, then come back in 2003. The business is there, and companies are going out to get it.
Will 2003 be as good as 1999? Probably not. But then an overheated economy must be allowed to cool down. It will however, be a year of opportunity. Money will be made, and losses reversed.
How do it know? I have no guarantee. But I do have a sense of what's happening based on talking to the people who have to make payrolls and ship equipment every day. They are saying that times are definitely getting better.
The problem is that the market and the media will lag what we in the trenches know to be true. There will be bears bellowing about disaster around every corner. However, if you are feeling down a bit, just talk to one of your fellow manufacturers or owners. (Not a competitor. Who knows what they will tell you?)
But you have to know what questions to ask. Don't ask if it's been a good year. Ask if they are getting the feeling that the tide has turned. How have orders been in the past quarter? What have their salespersons been hearing from their customers? You will find that a sea change is beginning.
This is going to be a great year. I can just feel it. A year of change, a year of success, and a year of growth. I don't know about the rest of you, but my glass is half full.
Happy New Year!

Article Abstract from January, 2003




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