This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

JVH comments on Parking News every day at PT Blog – log on at Each month, there are at least 40 other comments like these, posted daily.

If you go to the online edition of June 2011 Parking Today,

you will find all the “hot links” below. And even more current comments by PT Editor JVH.

Advertising Works! (Posted May 3)

I have been ambivalent about Parking Today’s foray into

social media. Facebook is for kids, I said, and getting involved is dis- tracting. A friend opined that the main reason for Facebook was so adolescent boys could meet girls without actually having to see them and risk embarrassment. I thought he had a point. However, cooler heads prevailed here at PT Central, and last

year about this time, we were off to the social media races, Facebook races, that is. I told my crew that if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right. We committed ourselves to putting information up on our

Facebook page. Every day we post a dozen articles about parking, gleaned from the news media, worldwide. We have attracted some folks who seem to like to comment on those stories and some even post articles of their own. All this was great. We had a “Facebook Page.” But were we reaching an audience?

As of a couple of months ago, we had around 200 “fans.” Not exact- ly earthshaking. We realized that we needed to let the world know about our Facebook activities. We researched the alternatives and decided to invest a bit. After all, we are in the advertising business. We began a program of including references to Facebook in all

our publications (Like this one). We started a program of ads reach- ing out to Facebook members worldwide. I now “drive” people to Facebook by making references to articles in my PT Blog. There are email blasts that go out to our subscribers promoting Facebook. And guess what? We have proved that advertising works! Our numbers in the past couple of months have more than dou-

bled. Is it magic? Nope, just good old marketing. • First – Have a product that is attractive to a segment of

the population. • Second – Begin a consistent program of telling folks about

your product. • Third – Use every possible means to communicate your story.

Print, Net, video, email, word of mouth. • Fourth – Keep at it. Every day, every week, every month.

Don’t stop. Don’t let up. Marketing works only if it is like the “Energizer Bunny” – going and going and going. • Fifth – Adapt. Check your product constantly and ensure that

it is still filling a marketplace need. If not, make course corrections: You can’t change the wind, but you can adjust the sails. Check out Parking Today on Facebook at

The Placard Fiasco in NYC (Posted April 29)

You can read about the NYC placard fiasco in the PT Blog post-

ing below (Why Not Ticket Them All?). One of the readers who responded to that April 27 post noted that the contracts considered in the PPP leases all have limits on the number of placards that can be issued.


UCLA professor Don Shoup told me that he mused on just how

any private entity could possibly bid on an on-street operation, knowing that an unknown number of disabled placards (or “freebie” placards) issued by the city were out there and in use. How can one realistically compute revenue if some number of cars will show up every day and legally be able to park without paying? My solution was wholeheartedly endorsed by the Shoupdog –

do away with “free” parking for disabled and city workers. If their job requires that city workers park on-street, let them pay and then turn in the expense for reimbursement, like salespeople and deliv- ery trucks. As for the disabled, they, I think, want access, not charity. If

charging parking fees reduces the fraud and enables a disabled per- son to find a space where they can get out of their vehicle easily, then so be it.

Fraud with placards relates to people who want to game the sys-

tem, get something for nothing. I believe that most people who use disabled placards illegally seldom even think about the person who uses a wheelchair or is on crutches who needs a bit of extra space to get out of their car. So how about a little “ad council” advertising campaign that

depicts folks in wheelchairs and on crutches moving in and out of their cars and thanking the rest of the parking population for pro- viding them access so they can continue to be productive citizens. By the way, NYC isn’t alone. Here in LA there are areas where

half the vehicles have bogus placards. It’s usually in areas around government buildings. Yes, I can believe that.

How Do Non-Parking Researchers Study the Parking Industry? (Posted April 29) I was interviewed the other day by a consulting firm doing

research on the parking industry. From the questions they asked, I can guess the type of customers they have, but I’ll keep that to myself. I can understand where they are coming from. They want to

take an industry and then quantify it. In other words, turn our com- plex, variable and personal business into numbers. What is the per- centage of this? How many do that? Etc. I did my best with the questions, but frankly, I’m not sure how

one does that with a lot of reliability. And this is where many in this position have gone wrong. So often “outsiders” have underestimat- ed our industry, and have failed. International banking groups have gone belly-up when invest-

ing in parking. Venture capitalists have supported what seemed like reasonable technology only to see it disappear like so much morning mist. So how do you get a handle on our industry so you can make reasonable business decisions? One of the questions I was asked was how major parking com-

panies succeed in some markets and not others. The answer seemed simple to me – they hire the right people. I know that operator “A” is well respected and does excellent work in one market, but is con- sidered on the second tier in another. The difference – the people. Hard to quantify. You either understand parking or you don’t. I told them that parking is a relationship business. It is extreme-

ly important that the operator have a good relationship with the cus- tomer. Running garages is hard. There are so many personalities and problems. The operator must be able to not only solve them, but also keep the owner protected, informed and in control. I’m not sure how you teach that talent. You either have it or you don’t. Continued on Page 38

Parking Today

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