In New York City, the parking garage industry is a quiet yet mighty beast. Like the subway system, it is essential to how the city (and its economy) hums and operates day to day.
The five boroughs alone are home to approximately 1,000 parking garages, owned by different operators. City Parking, a family business founded just three years ago, runs 110 of those, and is slated to acquire 40 more locations by the end of the year.
“That’s a total of 150 parking garages, and that will make us the largest single operator in New York City,” says Jeffrey Rader, technology director at City Parking (cityparking.nyc). He joined the company just three months ago.
This portfolio expansion is a major accomplishment, especially after enduring the economic downturn of the pandemic. According to the WSJ, car owners fled the city due to Covid-19, all causing the parking industry to go idle in 2020. Fast forward to 2021, with the reopening of restaurants, offices, Broadway and sports stadiums, Rader is ready to modernize the business and help it meet a new wave of demand.
Founder Rafael Llopiz and his family started City Parking in 2019 with just nine locations--a figure that quickly ballooned to 110. “Since day one, they used a .NYC name, it’s the only domain they use for web as well as email,” says Rader. “For some, looking to different domains is second nature but for this company, .NYC is our primary form of communication.”
Whereas most garage operators branch out to other cities and states across the country, the decision to take the CityParking.NYC route speaks to a strategic long-term decision: “We only strive to be a New York City company, we have no aspirations to branch out of the NYC market,” says Rader. “That’s why we went with a .NYC domain as opposed to another; we want to stress we are in NYC.”
Why only NYC? According to Rader, the Llopiz family has been in the industry since the early 90s and have deep-rooted relationships with the New York market and property owners. “And they believe there is still room to grow,” says Rader. “This is just the tip of the iceberg to grow in New York City.”
Needless to say, this concentrated region alone is a handful. City Parking is the official parking provider for prestigious addresses like Broadway, Yankee Stadium, Lincoln Center and Montefiore Hospital.
“I was brought on because the company started and took off like a rocketship, but the tech didn’t follow,” explains Rader. He was tasked with bringing in automation and improving its online presence. These tech processes allow City Parking to better serve customers without having to take on more employees.
Within just 90 days, Rader has taken significant steps to empower City Parking to work with a reawakening city. His list of to-dos can serve as a blueprint for any small business or family-run venture.
“It may seem like 101 but we want to focus on a robust email marketing and online marketing strategy,” says Rader.
Rader’s goal is to build an online presence that allows customers to be more self-sufficient with parking payments and reservations. The new site will allow people to manage accounts and opt into auto-pay systems. The homepage meanwhile will boast a new loyalty and discounts program called City Go.
Rader says, “We want to let customers fend for themselves, we find they want to manage their lives independently without speaking to a human. They want mobile functionality and check in without having to take their wallet out.”
Rader says despite all the tech upgrades, the .NYC domain is here to stay, and will continue to serve as a pillar for marketing. But he does plan to dial up the look and feel of the website, to match the NYC branding.
With help from a web developer, the website’s design and aesthetic will evolve overtime. The homepage will feature moving images and video of cityscapes and buildings, in line with its .NYC branding.
While City Parking is aiming to be a tech-driven platform, Rader says the company heavily relies on its longstanding relationships in the NYC area. He is tapping his professional network to team up with Broadway shows and theaters, and hopes to advertise City Parking’s Times Square location on ticket envelopes, especially as Broadway reemerges.
The company is even building a microsite for its Yankee Stadium location, allowing fans to purchase and reserve parking for games, concerts and events for the 16,000-seat venue. “It should be ready in time for baseball season,” says Rader.
Says Rader, “We want to partner and care for NYC.”