Partner Company Spotlight: Total Parking Solutions on Innovations
Insight. Valuable research. Thought leadership.
At Passport, we crave knowledge. We’re passionate about our industry and are always seeking to gain the latest insight from industry experts who share the same passion we do. The newest trends, the biggest challenges, the innovations that are on the horizon – we love collaborating with our partners and getting a glimpse into the industry through their eyes.
As the parking industry transforms, I sat back and watched it through the eyes of Tom Zawacki, co-owner of Total Parking Solutions. With over 20 years of experience in the parking industry, Tom gave me invaluable insight into the industry; where it’s been, where it’s going, and what’s next.
Q: What are the most significant changes happening in parking right now?
Tom: We’re seeing clients moving into completely integrated systems that involve more than just one technology. Instead of having mobile parking on one system and parking enforcement on another – now we’re seeing clients really choose one platform to integrate all services.
Q: It’s no surprise that technology is an essential part of the transportation industry. How do you believe technology has impacted the industry?
T: We’ve seen it really start out with mobile payment parking. As you get further along everyone shifts into the citation management side of the industry. Now we’re really seeing the progression of the digital permit side. It may be our niche business, but we do have a large amount of permit holder clients because we have a lot of commuter stations. Most commuter stations are full of permit holders and daily parkers. The integration of everything into one portal, including the digital permitting aspect will be a very important part of how technology transforms.
Q: As one of your partners, in what ways has Passport set ourselves apart in the industry?
T: The reason we preferred using Passport, for over 3 years now, is really the flexibility. With our previous vendor, we had customers that had specific requirements and our vendor didn’t have the flexibility to accommodate those requests. Whether they were able to make the changes or not, it didn’t seem like they were willing to. At that time, the partnership between Passport and Total Parking Solutions formed due to their platform functionality and the ability to integrate with our system.
Q: How does customer service levels influence the industry and clients?
T: When we started this company 11.5 years ago, customer service hasn’t really changed. In my eyes, it’s really the most important part of business. When pay-by-phone and mobile payment apps didn’t exist, customer service was still everything. We have seen a lot of companies in our marketplace and in our type of business that have tried to do what we do and failed. They just weren’t there for the customers; they created machines and sold them to the customers, but weren’t there for the client.
When we created our product, we knew at the core the only way we could succeed was to provide customer service that was beyond what anyone else could provide. Today, we select third party vendors, such as Passport, that provide the same level of customer support that we give our customers. To this day, it still remains the most important part of business.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face today?
T: The biggest obstacle we had to overcome were companies in the marketplace that tried to do what we do and didn’t succeed. They put a bad taste in the customer’s mouth about companies like ours, but also about the technology in general. Right away, it was the technologies fault. It was a hurdle to get past that point and to get over that it was not the technologies fault, it was the company supporting that technology.
Another hurdle of course is allocation of funds. Nowadays, especially in our state, we need budgets to operate. One of the biggest problems is that a lot of time it’s a capital expenditure to do some of these projects.
Q: What innovations are next?
T: I wish I could be a mind reader, but to be honest what we continue to see more of is the implementation of digital platforms. Now more than ever we’re seeing technology geared toward the millennial generation that provides for more instantaneous use of their mobile platforms.
However, some of our customers are very behind in technology. Where are they going to be in 20 years from now? It really just depends on the marketplace you’re in and how potential customers have been exposed to technology.