Relationships on Campus


Relationships on Campus

When we think about relationships, we often categorize them within the sphere of our personal lives. We manage our personal relationships with our partner, children, family, and friends recognizing the importance of such relationships; however, business relationships are equally important and play a very important role in the success of a business. Transportation and Parking is a business, and building solid relationships are crucial to the success of your parking operation. 

As a former parking manager at a university, one of the first tasks I took on (besides technology advancement) was to repair the reputation of the parking operation itself. Viewed as an operation whose sole purpose was to issue citations and with no heart, I had my work cut out for me. Altering a campus and city-wide perception is not easy, but it is possible through relationship building. A solid relationship fosters trust and builds a customer base that respects the operational goals—which ultimately repairs the reputation itself. 

To build relationships, I had to be willing to put myself out there on a university and city level. This meant listening to the criticism with an open mind and using constructive feedback as a tool to improve the operation. Behind every customer complaint, even the ridiculous ones, lies an opportunity to evaluate if there is something that needs changing from an operational perspective. 

Showing up and being willing to listen fostered a sense of trust from an interdepartmental perspective, as well as on a city-wide level. Not only did people begin to trust that the operation itself wanted to do better, but the operation benefited, as well. By becoming involved with a variety of campus and city departments, I was able to gain a seat at the planning table for upcoming events, which allowed parking to be part of the pre-planning rather than an afterthought, which always led to customers receiving citations and further blackening the operation’s reputation. This formed relationships with key departments such as: 

• Campus Police & City Police

• Student Affairs

• Marketing & Communication

• Dining & Housing Services

• Campus Events & Services

• Design & Construction

• Planning

• City Transit & Planning

• Athletics

By forming relationships with each of these departments, I was able to ensure parking information was properly communicated and within the correct format. We were also able to evaluate planned activities in advance of scheduled dates and incorporate parking information into the plan. Marrying transportation and parking with each of these campus departments created a wholistic campus view where, from the customer’s perspective, transportation and parking was PART of the University rather than an independent operation. 

While we were always part of the University, it was often a perception that we were not, and this helped to avoid this perception. This method also significantly decreased customer frustration before it was an issue and allowed for a positive customer experience while on campus. This certainly made a difference in student, staff, and guest parking on campus as it provided information in advance of a visit, decreased staff frustration when their routine parking needs were impacted, and provided a way to improve the overall perception of the parking operation itself while also increasing our ability to properly communicate to the public. 

A solid relationship
fosters trust and builds a
customer base that respects
the operational goals.

As Parking industry professionals, we easily identify our role of managing parking portfolios, the sale of parking permits, and even the issuance of citations, but it is often the case that we overlook the importance of relationship building within our communities and how it can positively impact the operation and ensure success. 

Relationship building increases communication, trust, and even the success of a business. One should never be afraid to listen to customer experiences, sit at the table opposite a firing squad, and keep an open mind when it comes to what is and is not working within an operation. Growth occurs most during these times, and fostering strong relationships is the key to growth for a parking operation. 

Teresa Trussel, CAPP is Sales Director, U.S. Midwest and Canada east for PayByPhone. She can be reached at

Article contributed by:
Teresa Trussel
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