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Parking Personalities: Jeffrey Okyle

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ABOUT SP+: SP Plus Corp. (Nasdaq: SP) is an industry leaders in professional parking management. Through their SP+ Parking, Standard Parking and Central Parking brands, the company operates several thousands of parking facilities comprising in excess of 2 million parking stalls in hundreds of markets across both the U.S. and Canada.



DESCRIBE YOUR JOB IN A NUTSHELL… I focus on new business opportunities for our parking and transportation verticals, as well as consultation to clients for new development, acquisitions and dispositions. While I concentrate geographically on Southern California, SP+ and our clients sometimes take me to other parts of North America. The other part of my job is to create lifelong relationships with our clients and the charitable institutions they support.


HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE PARKING INDUSTRY? WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’VE SEEN SO FAR? 31 years; all with the same firm through a series of mergers and acquisitions. The automation of the industry, both the front line, as well as the back office operations.


WHERE DO YOU SEE THE INDUSTRY HEADED? IN WHAT WAYS WILL PARKING BE DIFFERENT IN 5 YEARS? To a large extent, the industry is moving towards further commoditizing the service industry, in particular the parking industry. It will continue to be important to provide offerings which differentiate the company from the competition. Relationships continue to be a successful link in providing the bridge between the client and provider. Customer parking choices will be more closely tied to on-line offerings providing the end user with options in advance of their decision making process of where to park and how much to pay. On-line choices may slow the growth of parking rates. Another factor which is evolving will be autonomous driving vehicles. This market segment is developing very quickly and could begin to provide an option for the public to commute in new and exciting ways. If this evolves into “shared” car programs, we may see less vehicles per household on average. It is foreseeable a commuter could “book” a ride to and from work, much like Lyft or Uber, and never have to pay for parking. As Uber has rolled out sharing rides, this could also be an option for autonomous vehicles. I’m not saying autonomous vehicles will replace all current forms of automobiles, nor replace parking garages at places of business, but it could theoretically have a negative impact.


WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST PARKING PET PEEVE? (FEEL FREE TO TELL A PARKING STORY HERE IF YOU WISH). My biggest pet peeve is when someone behaves stupid, as opposed to ignorant. Being ignorant of a situation implies the person does not understand the subject matter. But being stupid means the person has the capacity to understand, but just behaves poorly. Translating this to my parking experience allows one to consider the best information, and most direct information, comes from field staff. People often say the frontline is the backbone of a company, and I would strongly agree. Our frontline staff enters into rental agreements or purchase agreements on homes; provides training via raising children and monitors their school progress; lives under a tight budget which includes utilities, food, entertainment, education, health costs, maintenance, etc. We do not give our frontline enough credit to understand exactly what our customers like and how they like to be treated, nor the sensitivity of economic conditions and how much and how often to raise rates, or maximize revenues. Lesson learned: engage the frontline staff and ask for their opinion and advice.

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