Do Commercial Operators Get the Press They Deserve?

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Do Commercial Operators Get the Press They Deserve?

I have been in a bit of a kerfuffle this week over an article that never appeared in Parking Today. The details aren’t important. Suffice it to say that the article wasn’t in the best of taste. A couple of commercial operators got wind of it, and therein lies the tale.

The piece got loose for a couple of days and before I could corral it, feelings were hurt, tempers rose, and rightly so. In addition it gave the impression that PT and JVH were arch enemies of commercial parking operators. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For all this, I can only offer my sincerest apologies to those involved.

As I have said many times on these pages, operators have an impossible job, are paid very little to do it, and are often placed in positions where it’s very difficult to succeed. Yet they show up every day, provide a service that is necessary and important, and all in all, perform it well.

If any good came of this incident, perhaps it brought to light the fact that some in our industry have a negative opinion of operators. That opinion is often fed by rumor, gossip, and sometimes personal experience.

Are parking operators perfect? Of course not. Neither are owners, asset managers, customers, auditors, or for that matter, editors. Everyone has issues. What we need to do is not paint with too wide a brush. We hear about an operator having a problem, but we don’t hear about the other 500 locations that are running smoothly.

If I can say anything negative about commercial parking operators, it is that they don’t spend a lot of time telling the positive side of their story. They aren’t alone. Few of us in the business world take the time to tout our good sides. We are very busy making a living, and let’s face it in trying times, that’s often hard enough.

However, theirs is a good story and needs to be told. Many smaller companies just don’t know how to do it; larger ones are enjoined by everything from corporate rules to Sarbanes Oxley.

The main stream media likes bad news. If it bleeds, it leads. They get a story about a manager that is less than honest or a mistake by an enforcement officer and boy, its banner headlines on the front page. However if an operator institutes a new program to let people pay their parking fees with toys at Christmas, or adds additional staff to help senior citizens find their way in complicated garages, no one will ever hear about it.

So we here at PT are adding a new monthly feature. We are going to tell the operator’s story. It may be about a successful off airport operation, or how an operator helps folks trying to catch a train in to town. It could be about that new shuttle program being set up to “increase” the amount of parking at a university or hospital by providing convenient offsite parking for employees.

We will start in April. See if you can find the article. Oh, don’t worry, we will continue to bring you ideas and help with your parking operations, just as commercial operators do every day.

JVH

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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