The knee jerk reaction to that questions is an unequivocal YES! How can it not? Technology makes garages run smoother, ensures more money is collected, helps with enforcement, lowers labor cost, helps parkers find their spaces, gives us data that helps us make educated decisions. What can possibly be wrong with that?
The answer is nothing is wrong with that. But are we, as an industry, stronger because new technology exists. Do we make better decisions, is our corporate ethic firmly in place.? Do we reach out to our customers and ensure we meet their expectations? Do we treat our customers and employees with respect and honor?
When we turn our business over to technology, we do so at our peril. How may times have you heard (or said) “we don’t need an audit, we have computers running our facility and they don’t cheat.” If you install a certain technology, you can reduce the people that interact with customers. Things will run faster and smoother. Fair enough.
But aren’t we in a people business. We deal with people constantly. We park their cars, we issue citations, we direct them to spaces, we keep our facilities clean and secure. All that takes people.
I know we are all proud of the fact that we don’t go into banks any more. ATM’s have taken the people out of banking. Want a loan — deal with someone a thousand miles away. Have a questions “Call our on line banker.” Go into a bank and ask a question, they hand you a phone to talk to someone across the continent. Is this progress? — I think not.
Many of our customers have questions. Where, when, how, why. And its reassuring if we have a good person on site to conveniently deal with problems. I often have a more positive feeling from an organization when they properly deal with a problem than if no problem exists.
The strength of any industry is in its people. We need good people, people who enjoy what they do. They need training and support. They need to know how to turn negatives into positives, something no technology has mastered.
It we rely totally on technology we will survive, be profitable, and grow. But will we be stronger? Will we be the kind of industry that the young want to emulate? I know the answer and so do you.