We recently interviewed Jonathan Wicks of Walker Parking Consultants to pick his brain about the biggest challenges faced by their parking clients, their unique approach to solving the issues presented to them, and the ways technology can help grow your parking business. Today we are sharing his responses:
PE (ParkingExec): What would you say is Walker Parking Consultants’ “mission” within the parking industry?
JW (Jonathan Wicks): Walker’s mission is to develop and provide high value and innovative parking and restoration consulting and design services to clients who reward our expertise. As the premiere parking and restoration consultant in the world, we value our reputation for providing quality service, establishing industry practices and adding value for our clients.
PE: What are the most common issues you see as parking consultants?
JW: The three biggest issues for parking consultants are design and construction of new garages, restoration of existing garages, and advising on operational efficiencies. It comes down to the fact that owners want as much parking capacity as possible from their parking asset.
PE: You probably work with a lot of different types of parking facilities, how do they differ in terms of challenges?
JW: One of the biggest challenges Walker sees in all types of parking facilities is neglect.
Short-sighted owners and operators who plan to flip a property often delay much needed maintenance in a garage which over many years adds up to capex restoration.
It can be painful in the interim, but yearly maintenance to a facility is one of the best ways to ensure an asset is usable for the full 50 year lifespan which most garages can provide.
PE: What makes your approach to solving parking problems different from your competitors?
JW: Our approach to ensuring the client’s parking requirements and needs are collected and successfully built into the design begins the moment a project is born.
We present proven, state-of-the-art solutions that are available within the industry to address the unique needs and desires of our clients. Pros, cons, and approximate costs of the various solutions are presented.
Through a consensus-building process, Walker works with clients to determine the best, most efficient and cost saving ideas for their project to ensure a satisfactory product that meets the client’s expectations.
Once the agreed upon parking criteria are documented, the communication plan includes holding detailed progress workshops with the client, deliverable milestones to present the ideas, collect the client’s comments, and incorporate them in to the next submittal.
PE: What are a few ways that smaller parking operators can get ahead?
JW: The most important thing for any operator is understanding your metrics. Smaller operators who can’t afford support staff can get buried in data entry or reporting key performance indicators up the corporate chain of command.
If you find yourself backlogged with admin work, consider SaaS solutions to streamline the paperwork. If you have a project that needs to get done but you just don’t have the time, consider hiring a consultant to do the work for you.
PE: At ParkingExec, we focus highly on mobile technology in parking. What do you see as being the biggest benefit to operators of integrating with a mobile parking app?
JW: Marketing. On-street signage still generates significant parking demand but mobile apps work 24/7 so the operator can focus on other needs. Real time availability? Even better.
PE: What are most operators concerned about when considering working with a mobile app? How would you dispel those concerns?
JW: Most operators are concerned about time and money. Any time spent adopting a new product, which could possibly fail, is a serious concern – especially if there is a large cost of entry.
The parking industry is traditionally conservative because operators are usually spending someone else’s money. Good luck winning the RFP under the next round of bids if you just lost the owner a huge chunk of change in a failed app push.
Rather, find a mobile solution provider who is willing to adjust their product to your needs. Many mobile app companies offer white label products to seamlessly integrate proven solutions with your brand.
PE: For those who missed Don Monahan’s talk at PIE. What are three things attendees learned in his presentation?
JW: Don Monahan had an amazing case study presentation that addressed achieving sustainable design with automated parking.
- Obtaining LEED certification with automated parking facilities.
- Achieving building and planning department approvals for construction from local authorities.
- Reducing construction cost.
Jonathan Wicks is a forward-thinking parking consultant who’s worked in mobile app development and EV implementation. He is a partner with private and public sector clients who desire change.
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