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Just because its self-serving, doesn’t make it false….JVH 2019

“With all the fake news going on, consumers believe that if a company invests in the printed word it’s more valuable. Whether it’s true or not, that’s the perception…” Folio Magazine

Folio Magazine is a publication for folks who produce the printed word. In its August issue it featured a remarkable article that posited that in the face of all the hype about on-line content, readers actually reacted more positively to the printed word than to those in digital formats.

The article quoted PhD Scott McDonald extensively from his research into the subject. To wit:

… consumers trust print more than content published on digital platforms. “With all the fake news going on, consumers believe that if a company invests in the printed word it’s more valuable. Whether it’s true or not, that’s the perception.”

“…While his study focused on how print magazines serve as strong ROI performers for advertising partners, McDonald says that the neuroscience behind how readers remember print ads can be translated to how they engage with a branded print product.”

McDonald gets a little “woo-woo” as he delves into the minds of readers when he comments that:

“People read slower on paper and retain more of it. Plus they tend to fantasize more, projecting themselves into the pictures,” says McDonald. “It’s a leisurely activity compared to the more purpose-driven and distractible experience of navigating on screens. Retailers could take advantage of that difference.”

You can read the entire article here.

The article is about large consumer corporations that are producing magazines in house to send to their customers in place of catalogues. The idea is that content, stories about the product and services provided, allow the customer to interact and provide more return on their investment than a simple catalogue or digital presence.

I have watched company after company in our industry eschew print and move to digital. “The young people just don’t read magazines anymore.” Maybe not, but according to study after study, if you want to get someone’s attention, print is the way to go.

But then, what do I know?

JVH

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Something’s Wrong Here

Check this out:

It’s a EV charging installation at a Wal Mart in Santa Clarita, CA. Do you see any problems here? It took a moment but I found two.

1. There are four charging points and two parking spaces.

2. The space on the left is a handicapped only space. That will severely limit the number of cars that will have access to the chargers.

Beyond that, it seems just right.

H/T  David Garner, Classic Parking

JVH

 

 

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Nothing is “Free”

“There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Wags from New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to Science Fiction Writer Robert Heinlein have used this term to express economic truths. Economists write tomes on the subject. It’s a fact. You can’t get something for nothing. If you want something, you have to give up something else. Period.

Which brings me to the subject for today, “Free” Public Transportation. The idea is that if you give public transport away for free, more people will eschew their cars, ride buses and trains, and all will be right with the world.

We know that’s not true. First of all, something is going to pay for the buses and trains. Taxes, congestion pricing, tolls…The money will come from somewhere. It’s not free.

Don Shoup rails about “Free” parking. If you go to the store and there is “Free” parking in front of it, you are actually paying for it by the fact that the merchant has to increase the cost of goods to you to cover his increased costs for the “Free” parking. It’s not free.

The origin of the term TINSUTAAFL (There is no such thing as a free lunch) is unknown but consider bars that gave away lunch if you bought a beer. The publican would provide food, laced with salt, so his customers would be thirsty and buy more beer. So if you went in intending to have one beer and a sandwich, you would probably have three beers and a sandwich, thus paying for your “Free” lunch.

How many times have you had lunch paid for by a business associate only to discover that at the end you had agreed to a deal that certainly wasn’t free. My team was taken on a junket to Reno to see all that the city had to offer. There is no way that the airfare, hotel, and food provided was free. We will pay for it down the road. And what about “Free Love.” No need to expand on that.

I’m sure that all those high rollers that took a ‘Free’ ride on Epstein’s Lolita Express are wondering today just what the true cost will be.

Free Public Transportation has been tried. When people get something for “Free” do they realize that it has no value? It is something to be squandered rather than cherished. Can an organization that gives something away for “Free” really provide the service required to attract ongoing customers? “Why should I repair that broken seat or ensure the bus runs on time, they aren’t paying for it?”

You get the point.

JVH

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The Dog Days of Summer

This year, the dog days of summer are officially July 12 – August 20. That’s when Sirius, the “Dog Star” rises just before the sun and becomes a harbinger of all things hot, stuffy, and miserable, at least according to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The meaning has changed over the millennia as folks have begun to equate it with the slowing down of time, vacations, and those “lazy hazy crazy days of summer.”

You might wonder why I’m bringing this up. Astrid and I have been discussing the lack of any news that doesn’t have our President’s name in it. Things just seem to move more slowly this time of year.

People are on vacation. The heat seems to attack any bit of industriousness. We just slow down and look towards the fall and cooler weather. Our betters in Europe are taking six week vacations where they go rent a cabin at the beach or in the mountains and escape the heat of the city. I’m not sure what Americans would do for six weeks but we are pretty good at figuring such things out.

The people you call to find out what’s going on aren’t there. They have turned their jobs over to underlings who don’t know what’s going on. The flow of information just stops. Robert Townsend, author of “Up the Organization” gave the mail room at Avis a stamp that he had them place on every incoming missif addressed to him while he was out of the office. He then told them to send the letter to whomever in the organization they thought should handle it. The stamp said “Deal with this, and don’t tell me what you did.” He returned to a clean desk and never had a problem. If we could only do that in the day of email.

I think everyone this time of year is taking Townsend’s advice.

We are looking forward to Labor Day, the kids going back to school, and a return to a normal way of life.

Here’s to Canus, the dog, and his nose, Sirius, and his ongoing attempt to catch Lepus, the rabbit, as they race across the heavens. Don’t worry, every year about this time he catches sight of that critter, and every year he doesn’t quite make it. And things return to normal.

JVH

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Reno – Sleazy Little Town North of Las Vegas — NOT!

Betcha thought Reno was a sleazy little town north of Las Vegas where you went to get a divorce. You would be WRONG!

I spent a couple of days this week in this city of 350,000 and was wowed by its cleanliness, crispness, and beauty. When I arrived at Reno Tahoe International Airport, I wasn’t crushed by tens of thousands trying to get somewhere. It was like stepping back to a time when air travel was fun.

This city could be called a city of trees.  While Las Vegas is a city of desert, Reno has trees everywhere. It’s beautiful. Its also cool, well cooler.  We think of Nevada, and Las Vegas in particular, and we think of heat, 110 every day. Reno is high. Forty five hundred feet nestled in the foothills of the high Sierras. That makes it about 15- 20 degrees cooler than its big brother to the south.

The downtown center has been revitalized. The high rises are modern, the hotels refurbished, but still reminiscent of those yesterdays of Diamond Jim, quick draws, and thick steaks.

There are a number of ‘destination’ hotels that remind you of the Las Vegas ‘strip’ spread throughout the area that have all amenities one expects in a gambling resort. Fine restaurants, pools, shopping, and of course, casinos.

If you want more than to split aces at the tables, you can drive half an hour to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lake Tahoe. Pristine beaches, water skiing, hiking, fantastic views. This is an outdoors paradise. Plus, want to try out those new Skis, within 45 minutes is world class skiing, 8 months out of the year.

Reno has the largest collection of Classic Cars in the world and hosts “Hot August Nights” when tens of thousands of Classic Car enthusiasts from around the world bring their cars and polish to show just how wonderful cars of yesterday can be.

Remember Bonanza? Virginia City is just down the road. Once a bustling metropolis of 25,000, now only 1,000 live in this almost a ghost town. Great for experiencing the history and finding out how mining, cattle and railroads built the American West.

Has JVH become a card carrying member of the Reno chamber of commerce? Not really, but we are looking at this ‘Biggest Little City in the World” as a possible venue for the Parking Industry Exhibition. No decision has been made, but after San Diego in 2020 and Chicago in 2021, we have an open date.

Who knows? We’ve been known to roll the dice.

JVH

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Cars are bad!

I received this from another thoughtful and bright parking pro. He was commenting on my piece about trying to communicate with the short blurbs on twitter…JVH

My wife and I, kids, grandkids were on vacation last week on Pelee Island (on Lake Erie) and joined by some friends of which one has  a masters degree in Urban Planning.

Once he found out what my company did, we had a thoughtful and at times very dynamic exchange on automobiles, parking and alternatives.

Friend: Cars are bad.

Me:        What if they are all electric?

F:            Still bad.

M:          Why?

F:            Cities are designed around cars! They should be designed around and for people.

M:          To which I profoundly agree.

What we ultimately agreed upon is that

  • one’s desire for personal movement and freedom is deeply entrenched, instinctive even, and is manifested in a vehicle (car, bike, scooter etc) worldwide.
  • that cities should be designed for people first and transport a close second.

Of course the devil’s in the details.

Which defies a solution in 40 words (typically 280 characters).

Bill Franklin, www.autochalk.com

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We Need More Anti-Perfectionists

I received the following from one of the brightest folks in the industry. She’s right, of course.  JVH

If you’ve ever sat in on an interview, you’ve heard every interviewer’s favorite question, “What is your biggest flaw?” To which the applicant almost always gives this coy, bashful look, “I can be a bit of a perfectionist.” The interviewer’s face lights up (as that Interview Prep blog said it would), and he seemingly envisions the applicant sacrificing their first-born for the image of the company.

The parking industry especially loves perfectionists. From programmers, to hardware technicians, to  accountants…and rightly so. But there is a need for the anti-perfectionist, especially in the realm of marketing and project management. It seems here, in particular, we need the person that says, “No. We’re not going to get Joe Shmoe’s opinion on this, and no, you can’t try out that other istock image for the 56th time.” Sometimes, projects that should have been delivered to a customer in 2 weeks take 3 months because of these so-called, “perfectionists,” and with changes that (sorry) nobody noticed.

This is something I noticed in my previous career and developed a reputation for myself….the one that always, “Pulled the trigger.” It instilled fear in some (which I secretly enjoyed) and also much needed haste. Our team was given a set amount of days and set amount of changes to make on a project. After that, the trigger was pulled. Any you know what? We were never late on delivery and it was always a piece we were proud of.

The thing is, if you’re doing the job you were hired for, you shouldn’t need to be a perfectionist. We should hire these perfectionists carefully, too many and you’ll ‘gum up the works.’ We still need them, (and do we ever in the parking industry), but in doing so, we should balance them out with more ‘anti-perfectionists’ ….preferably the proverbial whip crackers and trigger pullers.

Julianne Wilhelm, www.flowbird.group

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Reality Check – What Autonomous Vehicles Will Look Like – Without the Hype

I have blatantly stolen that headline from Keith Jones over at Ace Parking and his Power 2 Go blog. You can read it all here.

Keith is much more kind to the AV industry than I have been over the years. I think it’s simple. They have overhyped their product and, in many cases, simply lied about it. As I have said time and again, privately owned level 5 vehicles simply aren’t in the foreseeable future. However, if you think about buses, long range freighters, taxis and the like, yes they are just around the corner.

It’s all based on economics, not technology. If you can take the driver out of the vehicle, you save a huge amount of money but really only if the vehicle’s purpose is to generate money. Like a semi hauling freight to Chicago, or an Uber of Lyft hauling you to the local watering hole.

Taking the driver out of a privately owned vehicle doesn’t really make economic sense. You aren’t being paid to drive. In fact, you might even enjoy sitting behind the wheel (Ok as long as it’s not parked on the 405.)

Keith takes a more academic approach than I do. He actually quotes people who know something about the topic. That probably comes of being a philosophy major from NYU. I have a tendency to look out the window and report what I see. Keith studies the topic and quotes experts. You may find me quoting Keith more often here in the future.

JVH

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Fail early and Fail fast

Failure, or the fear of failure, can be disastrous. If we are so afraid to fail we never begin, the disaster may be larger than failure itself. I’m sure you are aware that most of the great successes are built on attempts that failed. It could be said that failure is as important as success.

Astro Teller, the leader of Google’s “X” program, says they try to make a program fail before they try to make it succeed. In an article for Forbes and in a Ted Talk, Teller says that if they can make a program fail early on, much time and money is saved. Plus, spin offs from the program can become successes.

Astrid reviews in September’s Parking Today Ed Catmull’s exciting and thoughtful book Creativity, Inc. In it, Catmull stresses how important mistakes and failure are to the success of any venture. As Astrid writes in the review:

Catmull invites us to be introspective and to change our perception.  Mistakes are a necessary evil.  If we are in the arena as Teddy Roosevelt said, mistakes will be made.  Failure is painful but how we feel about failure doesn’t have to be painful.  “We need to think about failure differently. … failure, when approached properly, can be opportunity for growth.”  So as Andrew Stanton, creator of Finding Nemo and other films at Pixar says, “fail early and fail fast” and “be wrong as fast as you can.”

Just how many times have we let a failing employee bog us down. How many times have we let a program drag on and on, hoping for success but knowing in our collective guts that it was a nonstarter? But think about the bits of fairy dust that came from those failures, the couple of good ideas that came from a bad hire, the lessons learned, the new directions.

Remember these wise words – fail early and fail fast.

JVH

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All in for Veterans in Parking

Parking Today is changing the theme of our November to “Veterans in Parking.” Every article will be written by a veteran. The edition will be edited by Todd Tucker, one of the founders of the Veteran’s in Parking organization. We will donate a small percentage of the advertising revenue of that issue to Veterans in Parking.

I asked Todd to not only find men and women who have served their country to write the articles, but also have them pen a few bon mots on how their experience in the military prepared them for work in the civilian world.

I’m looking forward to the result.

JVH

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