I have been arguing for years that parking operators get the raw end of the stick. They need more money to pay for their operations, to pay their staff, to run proper garages, but the asset managers won’t allow them the luxury of doing that. All those money grubbing developers and owners want is lower fees and lower expenses. Its all their fault. If the operators could get the money they need, parking operations would be pristine, and all would be right with the world.
I had a long discussion with a buddy of mine who is involved in a number of garages across the country. He represents owners.
He sets the budgets that operators are to follow when hiring and setting salary levels. In three cases, that cover three different operators, he described the following scenario:
The owner set a salary cap almost 30% higher than the operator was paying. Now remember, this money wasn’t coming out of the operator’s pocket, the owner was footing the bill.
The operator was having difficulty filling some positions. They refused to pay the amount the owner budgeted. How can that be?
In another case, my friend set a salary level for a garage manager 25% higher than was being paid. His point: "Hell, the garages in this situation were generating over 30 million a year. I think that someone in charge of that kind of revenue should command a high salary. We can’t get good people unless we are willing to pay for them."
In both cases the operators were non plussed. I think that they had some concerns that if they paid more in one location, they would eventually be forced to pay more in all locations. There were union issues, and it would also be difficult for them to transfer staff from one location to another. (Lets face it, if a manager was making $75K in one place, he wouldn’t take a job making $60K in another.) I grant that these are issues.
However, the owner is also correct. Quality people will not work for low wages. We are in a time of virtual no unemployment. The folks not working are typically those who always have difficulty finding jobs. Work, like any commodity, is a function of supply and demand. When the supply goes down, and the demand up, the cost must also go up. Its economics 101.
To get good people you must pay them. Parking salaries, particularly at the garage manager level and below, are notoriously low based on the responsibility that the position has. A manager at MacDonald’s can make double what a garage manager in a location grossing the same amount garners. Why would I want to manage a garage when I can make a lot more managing a MacDonald’s?
Think about it. The solution — not an easy one — but its out there somewhere.