Why Engage a Consultant?
If frustrations or performance issues with your parking operation, technologies, financial performance or customer service always seem to be right around the corner, and the solutions are elusive, you are not alone. The reasons?
No two garages are exactly alike, customer expectations vary greatly and every market and submarket differs from the other. In most cases, the challenges cannot be simply resolved through a standardized technology, business strategy or process implementation. Even garages that seem to have similar makeup and user expectations within portfolio often have unique challenges. In today’s challenging business environment and an ever-changing landscape of service providers and solutions, it can be difficult to easily achieve results without thoroughly understanding the property, the owner’s desired outcomes and the available solutions.
Even garages that seem to have similar makeup and user expectations within portfolio often have unique challenges.
So why do you need a consultant to help resolve issues and achieve results rather than doing it on your own? There are three simple reasons that have propelled Parking Advisors to be the industry’s leading parking consultant and why hiring a consultant typically provides you the insight and expertise that will best serve you:
1- Objectivity – The right consultant will provide objectivity. This has been key to our firm’s success and growth. After experimenting with several approaches and structures, we’ve determined that a fixed-fee contract with clear deliverables drives the best results for the client. While incentive-based fees might seem to align objectives between the consultant and client, too often contracts with fees tied to “found revenue” or “improved Net Income” lead to significant misalignment.
A contract structure and working relationship with transparency and objectivity provides the opportunity to clearly see the bigger picture, avoiding “what’s in it for us”.
By not being financially tied to the asset performance, the right contract structure allows the consultant the opportunity to provide objective feedback regarding solutions, improvements and results.
This is not always the case with a business partner that has other motives, agendas or opportunities for financial reward.
2- Implementation – The ability to execute and implement findings is a key component of a successful consultant relationship. In many cases, recommendations are brought to the table by a variety of stakeholders, each with a different take on how the operations can be improved or what results are possible.
However, the ability to sort through and determine what is actionable and achievable is key. “Low hanging fruit” can achieve near-term results. Impractical, expensive and high-risk activities can be avoided, and ongoing feedback can be incorporated.
3- Confidentiality – Any time parking challenges and frustrations are discussed, or planning is taking place for future projects, confidentiality is critically important.
The ability to have detailed, confidential conversations that are productive and avoid alarming the staff, or putting current service providers or parkers on edge. is key. Our firm takes confidentiality very seriously, and is one of the primary reasons we have grown significantly over the past 10+ years.
We are regularly involved with property acquisitions and dispositions, as well as feasibility studies; most of these are highly confidential. We also are involved with performance issues related to parking operators or technology providers.
In many cases we can help resolve issues rather than simply replacing the provider. The parking industry is notorious for the “rumor mill,” and it’s important to avoid partnering with a consulting firm, parking operator or technology provider that is more interested in gossip than they are in solving problems.
The bottom line: hiring the right parking consultant can enable you to identify and resolve issues, improve financial performance or service levels and allow you to focus on your core business.
As with any other business relationship, it’s important to do your research. Ask questions, check references, and spend the right amount of time structuring and documenting the engagement.
Parking is a unique aspect of any commercial property, municipal or other portfolio - despite this, parking is usually critically important to the overall strategy. As an owner, asset manager or individual overseeing the parking operations, you need an advocate and expert to get the results needed and expected. The right consultant can help you get there.
Erik Eloe is with Parking Advisors, Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com