Of Operators and Owners


Of Operators and Owners

I think parking operators do themselves a disservice by not having real heart to heart discussions with their owners. After all, the owner must be involved in the process.

For years operators have told owners "we are the experts, just turn your parking operation over to us, and we’ll take it from there, and send you a check." I think that’s the wrong approach. Operators need to tell owners what their problems are and how the owner can help solve them

First — The Owner needs to know that the operator that wins the location on low bid isn’t necessarily the one that will generate the most revenue. Its a fact of life that you can’t pay a garage manager $35,000 a year and expect them to run a multimillion dollar business. But often when the operator comes and and looks to the owner for more money to hire qualified help, the owners shrugs and says that its the operator’s problem.

The owner needs to educated that the parking under the building is a very large business and the operator is running it for the owner. They simply can’t expect someone making a low wage to have the experience or abilities to handle all the complex aspects of the parking facility  –  from banking, to customer service, to maintenance, to marketing.  It just isn’t reasonable.

But how often does the operator have that conversation, particularly before the deal is done? My guess is not often enough.

In the past operators didn’t need to be too concerned as owners did abrogate their responsibility in parking to the commercial operators. As we all know, that has gone the way of high button shoes and dial telephones (or for that matter, telephones with wires attached.) Owners now check everything, hire auditors, and hold operator’s feet to the fire. Their expectations have changed. So then should the costs.

Using an example from this month’s PT, if an operator has a manager with low experience and skills in a location because the owner wouldn’t pony up the money to pay a more capable person, and the location is losing $700,000 a year because the manager isn’t filling the garage with enough monthly parkers, the 20 or 30 grand saved from the salary boost cost $650,000 from the bottom line.

They say it isn’t brain surgery, but I think the problem is that operators don’t take the time to explain the issues. Is it possible they are afraid to admit that they are only as good as the people they can hire? 


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Hi John
    I agree somewhat with your philosophy. My concerns would be that a lot of “Parking Managers” are not that good. I recently interviewed a person that told me he was a parking manager. I believe he was in the parking business. I could not verify his employment so I asked him what type of revenue control equipment they had. He did not know. Likewise this is not one instance, there are similar others. I think there are good operators however I believe they save costs by having either inexperienced managers or ones that are spread so thin that there are no audit controls to speak of. I’m curious how much revenue is lost from a manager not paying enough attention.
    In conclusion if the owner is really getting what he pays extra for, then it is worthwhile to pay more. The owners may pay more and not be any better off depending on the operator. Everyone wants to get the best deal but you can pay a big price in lost revenue for that.

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