Originally published on Blueprint
Written by David Harry, Produced by Andrew Wright & Kirk Dyson
The equation may appear simple when designing a new parking garage. But while it’s still about how many spaces are needed and how traffic flows inside, 21st century variables are now part of the math.
As Jose Morales of FlashParking notes, even the basic steps of getting a time-stamped ticket from a dispenser and then paying at a booth is changing in the digital world. Parking operators that embrace mobility, he argues, improve the customer experience and gain troves of new data.
Morales, who used to sell power tools at job sites, now sells mobility technology as FlashParking’s director of sales for new construction.
“We’re the company that provides a cloud-based operating system capable of interfacing with the mobility ecosystem. We offer better alternatives with a suite of options to replace legacy systems that need maintenance contracts and surprise fees for software updates,” he says. “What [operators] should think about is evolving their parking assets into mobility hubs.”
Founded as a valet software-as-a-service company in Austin, Texas, in 2011, FlashParking soon sought to replace “an antiquated, decades-old mindset that prevailed in the marketplace,” according to its website.
The methods for access and payment were quickly becoming outmoded in the digital world. On-premises servers, computers and virtual private networks require maintenance and upgrades while taking up space that can be put to better use.
FlashParking does away with all that hardware by moving everything to the cloud for its customers, Morales explains, and its customers now include the cities of Las Vegas and Tallahassee, Florida; Starwood Resorts and Hotels, the Marriott Corp. and the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Morales soon began concentrating on how FlashParking services could be added to developments under construction, not just retrofits of existing garages.
FlashParking may not typically be involved in the initial planning and design of a garage. However, Morales and his team have worked to ensure the considerations about tech infrastructure are present before a new building opens. It’s not an afterthought, they emphasize, it’s a way to envision future uses and how the garage links to its surroundings.
Meeting new demands
It’s termed “last mile mobility,” he explains. Garages need to offer more than just a place to park, lock up and walk away. For instance, FlashParking’s platform is integrated with hotel property management system networks so parking charges can be added to the bill for a stay while hotel room and garage access is controlled by one credential. That also makes it easier for a customer to leave the garage and return or even keep a vehicle parked after the hotel stay is through.
FlashParking also enables drivers to use Bluetooth technology to open gates without opening a car window—never a bad thing on a winter’s day. Garage operators can allow access for package deliveries and accept reservations to use electric vehicle charging stations. In Las Vegas, Morales says operators have used the company’s technology so ride share drivers can pull into a garage to pick up passengers.
“FlashParking is a great fit because we facilitate conversations on how to be future ready,” he says. “We can help at the very start of an operation, and what we offer is scalable across a portfolio.”
It’s a safer alternative, too. Whether by allowing people using ride share services to wait off-street or through myriad no-touch access and payment options, FlashParking is a mix of convenience and analytics that also removes the operator’s dependency on service technicians for maintenance, Morales says.
Equally important, he adds, is that FlashParking enables its customers to upgrade their operations, because the platform can accommodate new artificial intelligence and analytics, for instance, and apply them as management tools.
“We’re the most advanced from day one, and what we offer builds on the mobility ecosystem,” he says. “It’s a question of how to adapt it for the best uses.”
Selling and planning
Born and raised in Phoenix, Morales first considered a career in planning on a larger scale as he earned his bachelor’s in urban planning from Arizona State University in 2010.
While attending ASU, he was vice president of recruitment for its interfraternity council and served as a water conservation intern for the city of Glendale, Arizona. His first work experience with parking came when he was hired in 2012 as operations manager for Lanier Parking Solutions, where he handled daily operations at one of the largest mixed-use developments in Phoenix.
Yet Morales recalls he was not fully used, and when offered the chance to join Stanley Black & Decker’s management program in 2014, he took it, even though it required moving across the country to Atlanta. As a sales and marketing coordinator, he first sold to big box stores such as Home Depot.
Promoted to field marketing, he moved to Miami and sold tools and concrete anchors by visiting job sites. When not working, he earned his MBA from the University of Miami in 2018.
Morales had become an enterprise solutions specialist when FlashParking reached out through LinkedIn with a sales opportunity. While Morales admits he met with the company to practice his interviewing skills, he was quickly drawn to its potential for growth and joined in April 2018 as national manager of new construction. He was promoted to his current role in April 2020.
In 2019, Morales and FlashParking colleague Chris Munoz were named members of the “40 Under 40” class by the National Parking Association, but he says his opportunities outweigh the honor.
“I feel incredibly blessed the company has entrusted me in growing this branch of the business,” he says. “There’s a lot of dots needing to be connected. The more we continue to grow our ability to work with construction and management, the more I’m sure we’re the industry leader.”