They’ll Park, You’ll Fly

Photo: Steve Cole

Park ’N Fly offers a whole lot more than a convenient parking space.

Spend a few minutes with Tony Paalz and parking cars becomes exciting. The president and CEO of Park ’N Fly, an Atlanta-based airport parking-service provider, was hired to breathe life into an established industry. Nearly four years into it, he’s doing just that.

“As a leader, think baseball. If 7 of your last 10 decisions were good, you’re batting .700. That’s beyond Hall of Fame stuff. Don’t make the same mistake twice, but don’t dwell on the missteps. Use the wins and positive learning to help you grow.”
—Tony Paalz

What’s the mission of Park ‘N Fly?

It’s very simple: to be the first choice in airport parking. We do that through our vision, which is to make our customers’ lives easier by providing them with more than just parking. We have a service–focused culture dedicated to delighting each and every one of our customers. We set the bar high, and we deliver. We also offer additional services beyond parking to enhance the customer experience. It’s not just about parking; it’s about much more.

Describe this “more.”

Our first goal is to make the trip to the airport as efficient as possible, picking customers up at their cars and assisting with their luggage moments after they arrive. We also help our customers reclaim their personal time by making things easy for them. For example, we partnered with Jiffy Lube so we can service their car while they’re away. We also offer car-wash and full-detail services at many of our locations. And we’ve partnered with Pet Paradise, so our customers can board their pets when they travel and pick them up when they return, no matter what time it is. Those things that someone would do over the weekend, we can provide for them while their car sits in our lot. It’s all about delighting the customer.

With 17 locations nationwide, how do you ensure a great customer experience each time?

We’ve created a company culture of service. Part of that is giving employees the tools to do what’s right for the customer without having to always have management approval. The other part is accountability. It’s one thing to say we’re great at service, but we prove it. We invite customers to evaluate us using a voice-of-the-customer survey, which provides us with a Net Promoter Score and actionable written feedback. Basically, the Net Promoter Score tells us what percent of our customers would recommend us. A good score is 30 percent; world class is 70 percent. We’re over 75 percent. Everyone in the company sees those scores daily. If we receive a negative score or negative feedback, we contact the customer and make it right.

How has Park ’N Fly grown during its 45-year history?

The first 40 years were about steady growth, which is the nature of the parking industry. Today, having the right location and the right deal, regardless of the ownership, allows us to create a compelling service that customers value. The first Park ’N Fly location opened in St. Louis in 1967. By 1988, the company had grown to 12 locations. I was hired in 2009, and my background is in start-ups and high-growth businesses.

If you’re limited by the number of airports in the United States, how do you grow?

You redefine it. Growth then becomes about adding other things, such as the services mentioned. It’s also about going vertical. For example, we’re a large player in insurance, with more than a thousand employees. We can help other parking companies reduce their premiums by offering an opportunity to buy into our group policy. We constantly assess our business and find additional revenue streams.

What’s one perception about the industry you hope to change?

People may not think parking is exciting, but we’re out to change that.