Ansgar Matz, owner of the German consulting company Park-Konzepte, has known evopark since the first days of its foundation. After four years of intensive cooperation, the industry expert now occasionally provides strategic advice to evopark. How important are digital parking solutions in the future of urban mobility? Ansgar considers these and other questions in the first interview of our expert series.
What experience do you have in the parking business?
Since over 10 years I have specialized in parking. Before taking over the company Park Konzepte, I was Head of Innovation and Market Development Parking at the international construction company GOLDBECK. The company is the European market leader in car park construction. I was the first employee to help build up the subsidiary GPS GOLDBECK Parking Services and Dr. Iding contributed his knowledge and strategic approaches from the PPP sector. By 2018, after four years, we already had 100 employees and over 80 locations.
Prior to that I worked as a Business Developer at APCOA and was directly reporting to the Management. This knowledge and my expertise in the real estate industry were very helpful in the set-up of GPS.
Since when do you know evopark?
I got to know evopark shortly after its foundation. Soon it was obvious that evopark’s vision of seamless parking matches with the goals of my former employer. The concept, in which evopark enables the end customer to rent parking spaces in car parks and on parking lots digitally, combined with a convenient monthly cashless billing, was an important step on the way to the digitization of long-term parking. At that time evopark managed all contract parkers of the GPS and handled the dispatch of the access media, the correspondence and thus the complete long-term parking processing. At the same time, evopark provided the customer with seamless entry and exit via RFID.
What are your tasks at Park-Konzepte?
I am the owner of Park-Konzepte and advise companies in the parking industry strategically in different states of business planning. Park-Konzepte has been offering strategic consulting services around parking and innovative solutions for professional parking management since 11 years. This includes e.g. location analysis, estimates of frequency, turnover and profitability, feasibility studies, operational optimization, support of tendering procedures and outsourcing options.
Smart parking is a key element for Smart City concepts. What role do digital parking solutions play in this context?
Digital parking solutions play a significant role in the planning of urban mobility concepts. They not only facilitate the handling of a parking process. With smart parking solutions, end customers enjoy significantly more comfort and at the same time the processing effort for parking operators is reduced.
Crucial for the success of such solutions is that their application is as simple as possible and self-explanatory for the user, otherwise digital parking solutions will not be used. In my opinion, solutions are only “smart” if they can be used intuitively and effectively.
Connected mobility and urban mobility are key trends. Where is the parking industry heading in this context?
The parking industry has established a joint platform, the APDS (Alliance for Parking Data Standards, editor’s note). This platform is designed to help bundle current insights into customer parking needs around the world and explore how these insights can help link to other forms of mobility. The aim is to achieve an ideal mix of different types of motorized individual transport with other transport forms such as public transport or walking.
Those who adopt APDS specifications can reduce their efforts to combine different technology solutions and manage to condense resources to develop new innovative services.
What are the key challenges for car park operators regarding the quantity and diversity of mobility services?
German municipalities, cities and communities pursue different concepts for their local transport policy. This is rather disadvantageous for the user experience: If the customer travels nationwide, for example, he or she must carry several RFID cards instead of one. B2C solutions of mobility providers with private users are in my opinion not well accepted by the population now and are not economical for the offering companies due to the low usage.
B2B solutions which bundle different mobility services nationwide are the best choice. These can help cities and private companies (e.g. keyword: employee parking) not only to make their offer more attractive for end customers, but also to better calculate usage figures and costs, acquisition, maintenance, repair and replacement costs and much more, and thus to plan for the long term.
How will cash and seamless parking evolve?
The easier it will be to pay before or after parking using digital services by pre-booking and pre-payments and payment via app after parking, the faster it will spread and be accepted. If major cities were to set a better example here and offer cashless payment only at various locations, these solutions would certainly establish themselves more quickly in the private sector as well.
My recommendation here too is to make it as easy as possible for users to pay digitally. Then, gradually, fewer and fewer entry and exit devices and automatic pay stations with cash functions will be needed.
What role will car park operators play in the future?
For me, the professionalism of the operator makes a decisive difference in this regard. Whoever masters the business is the right operator, no matter whether large, medium or small business, private or public operator.
Software and hardware can help operators to increase their professionalism. The question is which solutions are convincing in the long term and how much know-how the operator needs in advance to operate the parking facility. Of course, it also makes a difference whether, for example, if an owner wants to make a parking facility his core competence and operate it with passion and first-class service, or if this role is taken over by a leaseholder.
I believe it is possible that when using innovative software and hardware, after support by an expert in the parking sector, even a layman can master this subject after about 10,000 hours of experience and intensive support by a consultant, if he wants to pursue it with passion as one of his core competences.
If this is not the case, I recommend to have the complete management carried out by professionals, because there is much more to it than just buying a soft- and hardware and maybe completing two short technical and commercial trainings. An intensive course is not enough to manage a parking facility professionally.
Thank you very much for the interview!
You are welcome.