The State of the Parking Industry - 2006 A Paradigm Shift
The Temecula Parking GroupIIn May 2005, the Temecula Parking Group (TPG) released its first publication: "A Parking White Paper." That document served four purposes. It:
1. Introduced the members of the group;
The members of the Temecula Parking Group represent different aspects of the parking industry - private operators, public agencies and equipment/service providers. We are members of the NPA, IPI and regional industry organizations. Although we represent diverse elements of the parking industry, we share a common passion for it and a commitment to elevate its professionalism.
2. Expressed our concerns with the direction of the major parking organizations;
The TPG recognizes the importance of both organizations to the parking industry. The organizations, however, have perpetuated a schism between private and public management. In a mobile society, where the automobile is the preferred mode of transportation, it is essential that an organization represents the industry with a voice that is clear and respected. Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need to unite the industry, gather strength from its numbers and diversity, and lead it in a coalesced direction.
3. Presented our vision of a national parking organization;
The parking organization we envision is one that:
Actively recruits and embraces all individuals and groups involved in providing parking services and/or equipment.
Allows egalitarian representation for all members.
Serves as the spokesperson for the parking industry.
Provides value to its members by supplying enhanced training opportunities, a technical resource library, an interactive Web site, and more.
4. Offered our cooperation to work with the existing organizations to enhance the parking industry.
To this end, members of the TPG would like to meet with your organizations' boards to move forward with this initiative. We offer our assistance to explore funding methods to achieve the vision presented herein.
Nine months after the release of "A Parking White Paper," the TPG has received no formal response from either national parking organization, but remains passionate about the parking industry, committed to our vision, and hopeful that our offer to meet with these groups will be formally accepted.
Our passion, however, is tempered by the fact that with each passing month, the parking industry overlooks an opportunity to publish a positive article about our business. With each passing week, we miss a chance to attract new people into the business. With each passing day, we miss an opportunity to bridge the private-public schism. To discover the state of the parking industry in 2006, one only needs to look at the services other trade organizations provide, not only to their members, but to the general public.
To discover the number of hospitals in the U.S., one performs a simple Internet search. By entering "number of hospitals in U.S.," the search engine directs you to the web site of the American Hospital Association. There, you discover that there are 5,759 hospitals in the United States. In addition, the web site also provides information on the number of beds, the number of private and public hospitals, the number of admissions, etc. These hospitals vary in size and they vary in their ownership and management structure, but it is safe to state that every hospital has some parking. Yet of those 5,759 hospitals, only 22 are listed in IPI's 2005 Who's Who In Parking.
By substituting the word "cities" for "hospitals" in the search engine, one is connected to the web site of the National League of Cities. That site reveals the existence of 19,429 municipal governments. Moreover, it has links to more than 30 documents, each providing insights on local government operations. Although the extent of parking issues will vary with each city, every one of those 19,429 governments has some parking. How many are members of the NPA?
Now substitute "parking spaces" for "cities." You are directed to a web site that sells books on zoning and land use management.
That is the state of the parking industry today. It's an industry whose organizations include only a small percentage of those in the business - and those who do join are segregated into groups as if the parking space at a shopping center is fundamentally different from a parking space at an airport, or as if the equipment supplier has no interest in the management of a facility. As a result, it's an industry without an authoritative voice and without a source of basic information.
Leadership and resources are needed to provide the level of services that the TPG advocates - and both are available. Besides the 19,000-plus cities and 5,000-plus hospitals, there are universities, airports, building managers, entertainment venue operators, consultants, equipment suppliers, and more. At least 30,000 and perhaps 35,000 potential members exist in just the U.S. If just 10% of the potential member groups had only one member in an organization with $100 of their annual dues dedicated toward industry development, it would provide $350,000 for research and public relations. If 50% of those potential member groups had one member in an organization and paid only $200 in annual dues, it would generate $3.5 million. Imagine the services that could be provided with such an organization!
The existing parking organizations can, with vision and change, move forward to represent the entire width and breadth of our industry. However, we understand that time and resources may be difficult to obtain. To that end, we propose the following:
The TPG will take on two of the tasks we feel most important in the short term:
1. The hiring and management of a public relations firm that will provide positive information about the parking industry to the mainstream and business media.
2. The formation of a collective database of parking information that will be available to those needing information about parking. Some of this is readily available but not in a form that can be accessed, and some will require research and study.
We hope this can be accomplished under the auspices of one or both of the parking organizations. However, we cannot overstate the sense of urgency we feel regarding these tasks.
The organizations need to look to opening their membership, combining trade shows, and moving ahead with programs to professionalize our industry. With an expanded membership base, not only are financial resources more accessible, human resources also become more available. Working together (private, public, owners, operators, suppliers, building managers, etc.), there are more members available to participate in planning, researching and educating. More important, there are now more members, each with a vote, available to elect leaders who share the passion for the parking industry.
The TPG wants the parking industry paradigm to evolve. We want an industry respected for its professionalism and known for its contributions, and we are willing to commit ourselves to assist to that end.
The Temecula Parking Group
Members, Temecula Parking Group:
John Van Horn