Denise Schuster founded the company in 2013 as part of a study project.
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Text: Oliver Schönfeld
Photos: Marcel Krippendorf, Martin Leder
It is comparable to musical chairs – but without the fun factor of the game. Thousands of truck drivers search in vain every day for a parking space so that they can keep to their rest periods. The start-up company “Park Your Truck” wants to solve the well-known problem by bringing space owners and professional drivers together in a smart way.
All searches are often unsuccessful – in the end, trucks are parked illegally and, what’s more, in dangerous places: for example, on the access road to the rest area or on the hard shoulder of the motorway. Every night, at least 23,500 professional drivers come up empty in their search for a suitable, safe parking space. This is the result of a study by the Federal Highway Research Institute. Since many truckers seek their salvation in industrial estates or somewhere along the way, the actual demand is probably considerably higher again.
Denise Schuster, founder and managing director of the truck parking reservation platform Park Your Truck from Dessau-Rosslau, has set herself the goal of alleviating this dilemma, which has been known for years. “Creating new parking spaces along the motorways offers a long-term perspective, but the planning approval procedures alone take several years,” reports the entrepreneur. “Until then, we need pragmatic solutions that can be implemented quickly and are suitable for everyday use.” The company has already received several awards for its smart parking space management system – most recently in March 2021 in the “Start-up” category of the Eco Performance Awards, one of Europe’s leading prizes for sustainability in commercial road transport.
Created as a student project
Denise Schuster found her way into the world of logistics by chance: as part of her MBA studies at the Technical University of Munich, she was given the project task of developing a new business model together with fellow students. The idea for “UnserParkplatz” was born and the company was founded in August 2013 – initially as an online platform for sharing car parking spaces. “After about a year, we left this market and turned to the parking problem for trucks: This market is much bigger because of driving time restrictions – and there was no solution yet,” the founder reports. There are enough potentially suitable empty spaces in Germany. “But how do I get their owners to make them available to us? This was and still is the central question,” Denise Schuster explains. The answer: All parties involved – the land “lessors” as well as haulage companies and their drivers – should have as little effort as possible. The entire brokerage system is therefore geared towards digitalisation and automation from the very beginning. The search for suitable spaces, the booking, the billing with the haulage companies and the land owners – everything runs as leanly and automatically as possible.
Find a parking space via app
Direct integration into common haulage apps ensures convenient handling. If a driver is approaching the limit of his driving time, he can have parking spaces suggested in the vicinity. He makes his selection at the touch of a finger, and booking and cashless payment are processed in the background. Next, the driver receives his access code to the parking space, and the on-board navigation system guides him directly to his destination. Every parking space entered in the app fulfils two minimum requirements: It has a solid surface that is safe to drive on, and there are toilets.
The completely digital solution brings area owners, haulage companies and drivers together in a smart way.
The car park does not have to have more equipment – but of course additional features are welcome. Many space owners get involved by providing showers for drivers, offering lounge areas and a small kitchen to heat up food, or even installing security equipment such as gates and video surveillance. “In some cases they even provide washing machines and dryers. The drivers are really grateful for anything that makes their everyday life easier,” Denise Schuster underlines. According to her, 80 per cent of the reservable parking spaces for trucks are secured spaces according to BAG and Tapa standards.
Rapid growth in the pandemic year
Has the pandemic slowed down the development of the young company? On the contrary, explains the founder: “Corona has clearly shown many people the importance of reliable logistical processes. This has once again greatly increased the willingness to offer free parking spaces.” Park Your Truck was able to acquire many new parking spaces, on some days up to 2,000. There was another reason for this: unused spaces of trade fair companies, at sports stadiums or airports, which the company had been trying to acquire for years, sometimes in vain, were now suddenly accessible. Thus 2020 became the most successful year in the company’s history so far, and 2021 should be even better. “By the end of this year, we want to be able to offer 20,000 parking spaces nationwide,” Denise Schuster affirms. Already today, the service can fulfil a good 98 per cent of the requests from truck drivers – and by no means only in the metropolitan areas, but nationwide.
New solutions for delivery transport
The founder is not running out of ideas. A new approach: Schuster is working together with local authorities to equalise the parking situation in commercial areas by setting up parking areas for delivery traffic. Using time slot software (pregating software), delivery traffic can be optimally controlled and pre-stowed in a common car park. In addition to the time slot, the parking time is also booked; up to four days are possible. The result is a jointly used parking area that offers optimal delivery control for all companies at the location. The municipalities in turn benefit from reduced traffic congestion – and the drivers themselves from a significant improvement in their working situation.