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Its Time to Sell the Bananas

The Parking Industry must adapt to changing times. We must become involved in planning and government as urban areas evolve. Parking is part of the future. Terms like ‘reinventing,’ mobility, planning models, and ecosystem are sprinkled liberally in sage publications like this one.

Wags like me post platitudes like those above and seem wise and ‘forward thinking.’ But except for crafting documents that are “wise and forward thinking,” just what do we bring to the party.

It seems to me like we write like this to justify our existence. Our readers feel warm and cuddly that they have read something worth while, and we scribes feel good about ourselves and press on with other sage and learned prose. But so what?

Where is the guidance as to just how to do whatever it is we are promoting that day, or the input that tells us what happens if we take certain differing paths. In most cases its nonexistent.

The problem is that we simply don’t know what to do, or worse, think we know what to do but are afraid to say so because, shudder, we might be wrong. If we are an organization, we can’t be accused of taking a position that favors one side over another, so we take none at all. If we are a publication like PT, we cover ourselves in platitudes so we can’t be accused later of being wrong.

If the authors are good, we don’t even realize that we are reading pablum.

At a seminar held at PIE last week, an attendee asked me specifically what he should do to increase the revenues in the parking facility he owned in downtown Chicago. His numbers were going down, and he had just attended a seminar that basically said his numbers should be going up. Yikes.

Its easy to blather on about what may happen, or might be, or what the world will look like in two or three decades, but what about reality. What about today, right now. All the forward thinking on the planet isn’t going to help this fellow fill his garage.

So I got cute and told him to imagine he was selling bananas. He had a lot of them but people weren’t buying. Perhaps he should try to sell them one at a time so people could eat them when they walked out of his store, like an ice cream cone. Or maybe sell them in big bunches so the whole family could enjoy. How about selling them while they were green so they could be eaten next week. Perhaps one was too much, and they should be cut in half.

It got the reaction I wanted. People laughed. The time has come to consider just what it is we are selling and maybe ask our customers just what they want. What if they want more than just a place to store their car? What if they want security, cleanliness, ease of payment, a Starbucks on the corner, maybe a shuttle to the park or the city hall, how about…. You get the idea.

Enough about mobility, autonomous cars, and scary stories about empty garages. Its time to sell the bananas.

JVH

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