Getting time to meet with one of the busiest and most energetic men in JustPark is difficult enough. So trying to pin him down and interview him about his first 12 months at JustPark and the impact Covid-19 had on the company didn’t come easily. But we’ve managed to corner Greg Hughes, our Commercial Director and extract some fascinating insights on how he has dealt with a very difficult year.
When did you start working at JustPark and what was your remit at that time?
“16th December 2019, the day of the Christmas party. It was clear that I was joining an environment full of energy and great banter, and everyone made me feel welcome. The days after showed me how dedicated everyone was to the success of our clients and happiness of our drivers. Joining as Sales Operations Director, it was my job to make sure that the commercial engine at JustPark was purring and my first intent was to design a repeatable, scalable and profitable process to handle the explosive growth on the horizon for 2020.”
And to provide comparison, one year on, what is your remit now?
“Of course, it turns out that 2020 was less about explosive growth, and more about traversing an industry and country going through its biggest crisis since the war!
A full restructure of the commercial department took place as our working lives were turned upside down. We streamlined operations and absorbed the business to business marketing function into the commercial team. I was promoted to Commercial Director, which meant I was able to take responsibility for the client journey end to end; from b2b marketing to sales to client success and client operations.”
Why did it need to change so much?
“JustPark’s previous approach was that we wanted to do it all and never say no. People refer to us as the airbnb of parking, but the reality when I joined was that the company was more like the Amazon of parking. “Companies die of indigestion, not starvation” is one of the only things I remember from my MBA, and seeing us taking on everything when I first arrived was a big red flag for our future.
Of course, the impact Covid had only heightened the need to focus on doing a few things in a world class fashion. I am glad to say we know EXACTLY where we add value in the market and have doubled down our efforts in those areas, with (so far) great results.”
How much did JustPark have to pivot its focus because of Covid-19?
“We didn’t! JustPark has been providing cashless payments for over 10 years for parking. So you could say Covid pivoted the parking industry to us! During lockdown 1.0 there was a quote making the rounds “There are decades where nothing happens, and then there are weeks when decades happen” That paradigm shift is an amazing working experience for us to live through.
It’s also worth noting that our last round of crowdfunding was on the back of a compelling mobility and electric vehicle story that we already started before the pandemic hit. Covid was a great accelerant, driving government policy to embrace the electric future we were already embracing, ahead of schedule.”
What do you believe are the core commercial imperatives to remaining successful during these very testing times?
“There is no hiding from the fact that our success is tied very closely to our clients success. We need to see drivers making smart and safe parking and payment choices in the future. The network we have built over the last decade plus has seen a huge behaviour change in the past 9 months.
Our coastal locations, for example, saw record numbers of parking sessions paid for through our app during the summer this year. We acquired more drivers in Q3 this year than any other quarter. We experienced unprecedented revenue growth in the same period.”
Do you think the parking world will return to pre-Covid operating practices?
“We may not understand the new normal until 2022. How will driver behaviour change? What will the percentage of cashless payments be in an average car park post vaccine? The industry has suffered immensely this year, with Q2 stretching many to the limit. But recent vaccine announcements have given us reason for cautious optimism.”
What do you think will differentiate a successful company from the pack in the future?
“Let’s be clear, parking is a commodity, people want a space that is close, cheap and available. The only way to gain loyalty with drivers is by providing the greatest experience at all stages of the transaction. Especially on those rare occasions when it goes wrong!
The only way to deliver on that is by having the most talented, hardworking and conscientious employees possible. Last quote, I promise, Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!” and JustPark has the best culture I have experienced in my professional life.”
With an impressive first year under his belt Greg has been shortlisted in this year's BPA People in Parking Awards for Inspirational Leadership. Let’s hope his second year at JustPark is just as successful but perhaps a little less difficult for us all.