Who You Gonna Call?

PARCS Systems are complex. Depending on the size of your project, they could have as many as 20 or 30 individual high tech pieces (Gates, dispensers, Pay on foot Machines) all of which are computers and all of which we ask to run in on of the most challenging environments on earth, a parking garage. They process tens of thousands of transactions each day, flawlessly.

And these complex monsters have to work, and work every time.

The manufacturers ship equipment that works on the factory floor.  Some even hook everything up together and make sure it runs as a complete system. But what happens when it arrives at the job site.

Cable has to be pulled through metal conduit. Concrete islands have to be poured. Walls have to be cut and Pay on Foot Machines mounted. Its a complex, dirty, complicated job and typically your local electrical contractor is not the one called to do the install. Its a specialist company, a group of installers and technicians who know how to make parking systems work.

Typically electrical contractors have no skin in the game.  They bid low, install quickly, and are on their way.  Parking Dealers want the installation to go well. They know that they are in this for the long haul. If something goes wrong, you call them and expect fast, competent service.  After all, when those gates are locked open, your revenue is at risk.

After the install is complete, the Dealer is the one that stands between you and the manufacturer.  They speak two languages, one to the customer, a completely different one to the manufacturer.  They know how to ask the right questions and get results. After all, they sell 20, 30, 40 systems a year. The manufacturer is going to listen to them.

Dealers are unsung heroes. They make the system work. They customize to fit the varied needs of their customers. Without them, who are you gonna call when things don’t go quite right.

Next time you see your installing dealer, shake his or her hand and say thank you.  They deserve it.

JVH

 

 

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But Advertising Doesn’t Pay

Our advertising director Marcy Sparrow penned the piece below to send to our customers. I though it should reach a wider audience. JVH

A man wakes up after sleeping under an advertised blanket on an advertised mattress pulls off advertised pajamas, bathes in an advertised shower, shaves with an advertised razor, brushes his teeth with advertised toothpaste, washes with advertised soap, puts on advertised clothes, drinks a cup of advertised coffee and drives to work in an advertised car and then…

He refuses to advertise believing it doesn’t pay.  Later if business is poor, he advertises it for sale!!!!

Advertising is not just putting an ad in a magazine or on line and waiting for the phone to ring.  The ad content has a lot to do with what you get out of your ad.  The first question you must ask yourself is who am I targeting?  Who is my audience?  Who am I trying to reach?  What does my audience know and what do they not know and how can I educate them?  What is their pain/problem?  Can I fix that problem?  And most importantly, do they know they have this problem?  Once these questions have been answered, you can then move on to creating the ad and its content.

There are many types of ads but for our purpose I have broken it down into three types; Qualification Ads, Product Ads and Branding ads.

Qualification ads are very specific ads like RFP’s, RFQ’s or job placement ads.  Theses ads have a lot of detail in them and are meant to inform a specific audience.  There is a call to ,action clearly stated.  By this I mean. what is it you want the reader to do after seeing your ad?  For example, send resume, send proposal etc…  These ads are changed often as the subject changes.

Product ads are meant to sell a particular product.  The call to action here is to call you or visit your website.  So it is very important for that information be clearly communicated in the ad.  Also, the ad should highlight what your product does above and beyond your competitors.  Don’t just state what it does, inform the readers of what it does better!!!

Branding ads are meant to take your company name and log it into the brains of your readers.  Branding helps get your name recognized from all of your competitors.  Nike is my favorite example of branding.  They print a swoosh and people know who they are and what they sell.   Granted, billions of dollars have been spent to get that type of reaction from an ad, but branding is just as important on a smaller scale.  Loyalty is another component of this type of ad.  It lets your customers know you are still out there.  It allows your employees to see you marketing your company.  Branding is a very beneficial part of advertising.

You can combine these ideas into one ad.  But the key component here is to know who you are targeting, what they need and what is the best way to communicate that.  Don’t assume that people know what you do.  The ad should be clear, concise and always have a call to action.

Take a look at your ad and see if it falls short in any area.

Good advice from Marcy – you can reach her at marcy@parkingtoday.com.

JVH

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Some Women Can’t Drive

Sometimes you can ignore your own complacency and sometimes your complacency earns you a kick in the head. I’m well versed in the parking culture in the United States, and use this forum regularly to share my opinions, but read an article today that defined the narrowness of my experience.

I read this article on arabnews.com and faced the reality that parking in the U.S. is literally and figuratively worlds apart from parking in other countries. According to the article, most women in Saudi Arabia do not drive – they are not allowed. Some have a driver, but others end up driving illegally. Some have licenses, but, reportedly, drive badly. Few, like the woman described by the author of this article, drive well and even know how to parallel park.

At that very moment I saw a young Saudi lady who parked her older model car, which apparently had no reverse guiding camera sensor or sound alarm, but she parked her car as if parking cars was her full-time job. In short, it was clear that she was a much better driver than me.

Of course, I know this is not big news or story, but let’s be honest and frank that talking about women driving in Saudi Arabia is always big news. As a matter of fact, many occasions it is international news. There are parts of the Kingdom where women can drive — one of them is the premise of Saudi Aramco.

The writer, Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, states that laws against women driving in Saudi Arabia are based on culture, not religion. The author reports that the country has the highest number of highway fatalities in the world – because of the recklessness of male drivers. The author suggests that putting more women in the road will, initially, make driving even more dangerous, but that it is a change that has to be made.

It is painful to see sexism and discrimination applied so perniciously. Here is a country that does not allow its women to drive. They are not allowed to learn to drive, and they are prevented from driving, in part, because they are expected to be bad drivers. Which came first? Neither. What came first was a belief that women are less than men.

Our country has a full set of issues based on racism, sexism and all kinds of isms, but we are 100 years ahead of a country that does not allow women to drive.

Read the article here.

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Parking laws apply to superstars, too

Maybe she has too much money, too many fans, too much fame or spent too many years living in England, but it appears Madonna thinks she can make up her own parking laws. She didn’t want anybody parking in front of her New York City townhouse, so she posted signs and painted the curb – to be clear, she didn’t do it herself, she hired out the job.

New York City authorities foiled her plan and required her to remove the signs and the paint.

She got herself into hot water last month with neighbors and city officials after she posted signs in front of her townhouse that read: “Tenant parking only … unauthorized vehicles will be towed away at vehicle owner’s expense.” In addition, the words “No Parking” had been embossed in cement on the sidewalk, and the nearby curb had been painted yellow.

It’s not clear whether Madonna had her curb painted yellow because she wanted the area to be a designated loading/drop off zone or she just liked the color. She did take a parting shot at the city for the ugly color of its concrete-colored curbs, maybe not fully understanding the meaning of the specific colors of painted curbs.

We all want our own private parking spots – for some of us, they’re called driveways, for others, they’re fake handicapped parking tags. Some people try the paper bag over a parking meter trick, others throw out a lawn chair and invoke the rule of “savesies.” Everybody’s got an angle on claiming parking – but few are as audacious about it as Madonna.

Read the article here.

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Lunch with The Donald — No Not That One – The Hutongs of Beijing

“Actually I learn more from you than you learn from me” he says as we part after lunch at the UCLA Faculty Center. I smile and nod. He is most gracious.

Don Shoup in retirement is the same Don Shoup when he was teaching. He still has an office at UCLA and he still is on speed dial with CNN and Fox News. When every they have a parking story, he’s worth a pithy quote.

He loves to talk about how the difficult part of making changes in parking policy is political, not technical. His lead story this lunch was about Beijing. During a recent visit, he was given a tour of the ancient alleyways, Hutongs,  near the Forbidden City. They are a mixture of poor dwellings and compounds where more well to do live. These houses and compounds have one thing in common, they do not have toilets. Residents use common facilities located down the block. And according to tour guides, these are some of the least hygienic in Asia. In addition, cars were parked everywhere.

hutong

Don wondered whether a residential parking program would generate enough money to clean up the local privies. Some graduate research discovered that it would cost $65,000 to upgrade the facilities in each Hutong.  The parking program and maintenance on the restrooms would cost $25,000 a year but would generate $50,000 in revenue. In a little over two years the program would pay for itself and begin to generate funds that could be used for other programs.

He published a paper on the subject and even before it was translated into Chinese it raised substantial interest in the Capital.  The government liked the idea that the more well to do (those owning cars) would be paying and the less fortunate would benefit from the resulting maintenance program. Wealth redistributed. A Communist dream. It’s being tested in a number of Hutongs today.

In a presentation to the Manhattan Institute, Don wondered why this type of program wouldn’t work in New York City.  There are no residential permit programs in the city, and car owners spend many hours searching for and keeping parking spaces. “Wouldn’t someone on the Upper East Side pay a lot to have a reserved parking space near their apartment home?” he said. Plus, wouldn’t someone in a less wealthy area like to participate in the program, too.   If the city were to auction the spaces on the Upper East Side, they could go for a substantial amount. Probably much more than the spaces would go for in less affluent areas.

upper east side (2)

In those areas a reverse auction could be held. If there were 1000 spaces available, residents could bid on the spaces, and the 1000 highest bids would be selected, however each would pay the lowest amount bid. The bids might range from $1000 to $100, but everyone bidding would pay $100. This program is being used with great success to allocate permits in some lots at Chapman University in Southern California.

The additional monies generated in the affluent areas could be used to supplement costs in the poorer sections of the city.

The problem is that New York has opposite side of the street parking bans where weekly you must move your car so the streets can be swept. How could I have a reserved space if I had to move my car twice a week? The streets still have to be swept.

Our fearless parking rock star proposes boutique street cleaning. City workers using high tech vacuums would walk the streets and clean around the parked cars. It would cost more, but the monies generated from the parking program could pay for it. “Think of the pressure removed from drivers in Manhattan. They wouldn’t be playing parking roulette twice a week. How much is that worth to them?”

Would this sell in the Big Apple. The current administration is ‘progressive.’ Don thinks it would. The program redistributes wealth by taking higher parking fees in some areas and using them to supplement lower fees in others.  It would also allow the city to hire more workers (street cleaners) and reduce some unemployment.

From the back alleys of Beijing to the streets of the Upper East Side. Who would have thunk it.

JVH

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit — What Happened to Neighborhoods in Los Angeles

Gerhart Mayer, an architect, planner, and futurist in Los Angeles, has written a piece on how parking affects the ‘design’ of areas in the city. We have posted it on Park News trending.  You can read his piece here.

He is saying that all the surface parking is taking space that could be used for quaint villages surrounding metro rail stations. He longs for cities that look like Zurich or Amsterdam, not high rises like Manhattan and Century City. He calls these vertical gated communities.

An example of his ideal is Third street in Santa Monica, where he says that the city planned garages surrounding the promenade.  Well, not really.

Third street in Santa Monica has gone through many changes over the past half century. The parking structures were built to support the commercial activity on Third street. Then a shopping center was built at one end. Then the street was turned into a promenade. Then it was ‘revitalized.’  The shopping center basically torn down and rebuilt. The parking has existed through all this activity.  Now it will be the terminus of the expo line of the metro.

Amsterdam, Zurich, Bologna, Saltsberg, even San Francisco, and myriads of other quaint, walkable cities, are also old cities.  They were built before trains and buses. The rapid transit was added later.  In Amsterdam, for instance, the very efficient tram system was build to fit narrow streets and hundreds of bridges over canals. The neighborhoods came first, the transit followed.

Mayer posits that we should mandate such neighborhoods and assist in their creation by:

  • Eliminating parking minimums
  • Eliminating long-term parking above grade
  • Eliminating parking in the vicinity of a transit station
  • Allowing conventional parking below the public right of way (e.g., under streets)
  • Creating automated parking
  • Creating automated parking below the public right of way (e.g., under streets)
  • Managing parking as a public utility

The problem with all this is that quaint little neighborhoods are expensive to build. Revitalizing the century old buildings as they did in Santa Monica is one thing, to build them from scratch is quite another. Mayer disparages ready built neighborhoods like Americana in Glendale or the Grove in Los Angeles, which are basically shopping centers build to look like neighborhoods. He considers them fake and ‘bubbly’.

But the thing that makes neighborhoods in Amsterdam, or Paris, or London what they are isn’t the quaint buildings or the cobblestone streets, its the history that underlies the area. If you want a quaint walkable area in Santa Monica, go to Main Street. or Abbott Kinney. The shops, clubs and restaurants there have a history. The construction goes back what, 100 years. The Promenade in Santa Monica is in reality a long shopping center with upscale stores and readymade theme restaurants. Its The Americana or the Grove laid out in a straight line over four blocks.

Quaint walkable neighborhoods create themselves over time. Unique shops locate there because of the lower rent, people go there because of the shops.  I agree with Mayer that getting the government out of the business of requiring parking is a good first step. However changing zoning laws to enable a restaurant to go where a hardware store once was is also a beginning.

I admire his desire to have it all, a quaint walkable area with parking underground so it doesn’t show.  Suddenly those inexpensive shops and clubs become rent prohibitive. The most expensive construction you can have is underground.

My solution — let it evolve over time. Follow Houston’s lead and do way with zoning. Let entrepreneurs open their stores and get the regulation out of the way. Instead of light rail, why not put trams on the streets. Make it convenient for people to hop on and hop off.

You know, like they had in Los Angeles in 1920.  The finest most complete transit system on the planet. But then politics and greed destroyed all that. Rent ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’ As Mayer points out, it tells the whole story.

JVH

 

 

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Trigger Warning == Read at your own risk

The previous blog’s headline has created more discussion than any 10 blogs about on and off street parking. I have been lambasted for my crudeness and congratulated on the wisdom of the blog. What to do.

The tendency when these things happen is to do nothing, as whatever you do you simply draw attention to the gaff, assuming its a gaff. Thinking on it in 2020 hindsight, using that headline probably wasn’t in the best of taste. However it also shows that some of our readers have a sensitive streak that I seem to have found. To those who found the headline offensive, mea culpa.
For the others out there that wrote in expressing the wisdom of the blog in toto, thanks.

Sometimes in an effort to be cute or catch an eye, we go around the bend a bit. Stuff happens.

I think that we have moved into a time in our society when virtually everything, in any context, can be taken as offensive to some. We are beaten to death by those who feel offended by almost any slight. Our college students live in fear of hearing a word or seeing a bit of graffiti that might offend them to the point of tears. Who are we raising, a bunch of wimps. They are actually creating ‘safe zones’ where kids can go so they won’t have to listen to speech that offends. Good Grief.

Comedians can’t tell jokes any more. They will be pilloried. Don’t compliment a woman, she may take offense. And for God’s sake don’t use the term “niggardly” (from middle English, nigon) when you describe Shylock, an entire race or maybe two, will feel slighted.

Have we reached the point where our sensitivity scale overwhelms common sense? When I came home in tears because some bully called me a name, my mother told me to get over it. “For goodness sake,”she told me as she dried my tears, “worry about something that is important.”

Thanks Mom – Nuff Said

JVH

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Does Size Matter? Intertraffic and Amsterdam

No I’m not talking about THAT.  All men know that size does not matter.  I’m talking about Trade Shows.  I have just returned from Intertraffic in Amsterdam, arguably the largest trade event for Parking and Traffic anywhere.

INt 1

The IPI may argue that their event is larger but I defy anyone to spend a few days in Amsterdam and not be wowed by an event that is held in six huge halls, has over 800 exhibits, and more than 30,000 people who pass through the doors.

intger 1

However, when its soo big, it can be overwhelming. One visitors came into our booth and sat down shaking his head.  “I’m overwhelmed. It will take three days just to see the parking portion.  Some of the booths are larger than my house.”

There must have been 100 people in the Scheidt and Bachmann booth. OK 50

scheidt int

There were work stations, displays of equipment, and folks ready to help.  Assuming you could squeeze your way into the booth. Don’t single out S and B. The same was true of Skidata, Hub, Parkeon, Designa and the rest.  S and B had a theater that sat 50 people where they could give presentations.  Virtually all the major booths had bars (yes beer and wine), food service (Hub imported their chef from Bologna), plus private meeting rooms.

Amsterdam is a wild place. Las Vegas is almost prudish in comparison.  One booth had a woman wearing only a bikini bottom covered in body paint rollerskating the hall passing out cards welcome folks to their display.  She only lasted one day after an Iranian visitor complained and the local PC police shut her down. What a waste.

Don’t get me wrong — I love Intertraffic.  Its big, its bold, it has everything. Its well worth the trip. But just how much solid information do you get? How many close contacts do you make?  The exhibitors spends tens if not hundreds of thousands to display their wares. You really need a filter to ensure you get the information you want.

As an exhibitor how do you know who is a suspect, a prospect, or a lookie loo.  Its almost impossible to tell. Plus add the tower of babel language issues and who knows.

A number of American companies were there simply to walk the floor and get a ‘feel’ for the place. They asked me if they should exhibit.  I asked if they were opening and office in Europe.  If so, yes. If not, no. I don’t think you make sales at Intertraffic.  You set the process in motion. Then you follow up.

They announce huge deals signed at the show. But these had been in the works for months. No one walked into a stand for the first time and signed a purchase order.

I suggest you go to Amsterdam and intertraffic to see Anne Frank’s house, the Riksmuseum, Rembrandt and the rest. The tulips are just blooming, the food is fantastic, and canals, the best. Spend a couple of days at the show and see what’s coming down the pike parking wise — the Europeans seem to lead the way. Take in the atmosphere of one of the worlds great exhibitions and great cities.

Then come to PIE  and the NPA and talk turkey about your needs.

JVH

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Turning Parking into Housing

It’s all a matter of perspective. A vacant parking garage is a failed venture to some, and a structure of enormous potential to others. Architect Alfredo Brillembourg has an interesting plan for unused parking structures in Europe: turn them into housing. According to curbed.com, Brillembourg noticed under-used parking structures throughout his travels in Europe and surrounding areas. While the structures were under-used for their original purpose, they had found new life as restaurants, unofficial homeless shelters, and unfortunately, havens for drug use.

Brillembourg says that empty parking structures are already being converted for other uses – just not intentionally or intelligently. He says they could be purposefully reimagined and revised to function in ways that are more relevant. Parking is still relevant everywhere, but in some places, public transit has overtaken driving, and in others, parking is been more than adequately provided leaving some parking structures vacant. Brillembourg sees these buildings being transformed to spaces for refugees, the homeless and even modelled into low-cost public housing.

A parking garage is an open building, and Brillembourg and his team see specific advantages to that. Open buildings both adapt more readily to a user’s needs and encourage that user’s participation, which is particularly important when it comes to public housing.

Parking structures provide an eminently adaptable existing infrastructure. They are central and sturdy. Internal reconfiguration wouldn’t need to consider supporting walls, and a structure’s open sides would provide ventilation and natural light. They’re also modular: “You can rent a parking space, you can rent two or three. Depending on your expandability, you can expand and improve,” says Brillembourg.

Many won’t see a parking structure as the ideal home, but those with no other option might be more than grateful. In places like Dallas, where there is a known surplus of parking, this could be something to consider. There would ne many obstacles to a transformation of this type, especially in the United States, but regardless of actual feasibility, it’s fascinating to hear such an original idea.

Read the article here.

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Parking for the Rich and Famous

You think you’ve heard of every possible parking configuration possible. You think you’ve heard of every extreme parking scenario ever formed. But then you read something on nypost.com that opens your eyes a little. A high-end apartment complex in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. offers buyers parking right off their units – two spots for each of the 132 homes. And for the owner of the 4-story penthouse, a special spot for a car collection.

What sets the penthouse apart, however, is that its deep-pocketed buyer will also receive a separate 57th-floor “car gallery” — a roughly 3,000-square-foot space that can accommodate up to seven additional cars, The Post can reveal.

Only six of the tower’s units are still available – including the penthouse. The sky rise, built by developer Gil Dezer is called the Porsche Design Tower. The building has a car lift that delivers vehicles to their owners’ apartments. The car is definitely a main theme.

Anybody interested can make a bid for the $32 million penthouse. The car gallery can be customized with rooms, pool tables, bars and any old thing – or left open for car storage.

I don’t want to own this place, but I’d really like to see it in person.

Read the article here.

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