Operating or Managing


Operating or Managing

I was talking to a friend in the industry the other day and the topic of operating garages came up. The question he asked was do commercial operators "manage" garages or do they "operate" garages.

Websters Says:

Manage: to handle or direct with a degree of skill: as a : to make and keep compliant  b : to treat with care c : to exercise executive, administrative, and supervisory direction of <manage a business> <manage a bond issue>2 : to work upon or try to alter for a purpose3 : to succeed in accomplishing intransitive senses1 a : to direct or carry on business or affairs; 2 : to achieve one’s purpose


1 : to perform a function : exert power or influence 2 : to produce an appropriate effect 3 a : to perform an operation or a series of operations b : to perform surgery c : to carry on a military or naval action or mission4 : to follow a course of conduct that is often irregular intransitive senses
1 : BRING ABOUT, EFFECT2 a : to cause to function : WORK b : to put or keep in operation
3 : to perform an operation on;

So, is the company that is put in charge of the garage exercising executive and administrative direction, handling with a degree of skill, directing or carrying on business or affairs…


is it performing a function, causing it to function?

Anyone got an answer…


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

8 Responses

  1. At my facilities I look for someone to do both, I want them to manage my operations. If their performance doesn’t meet the definition of both “manage” and “operate” then it’s time to look for someone else.

  2. Hate to add another word to the mix but it depends on who is “running” the facilities. Some manage and some barely manage others just operate and also barely operate.
    I guess this depends on the company. Back in the old days when I operated parking facilities the on-site manager was a blue collar employee who “operated” the facility and “managed” the employees and other day to day paperwork.
    Today some companies are more sophisticated employing more fully rounded managers that are expected to manage employees, create budgets, market their facility, handle claims, hire personnel, interface with building owners, do the accounting, banking, perform rate surveys and even produce P&L reports. Back in the old days we wore uniforms. Now managers wear suits.
    Sometimes these managers are so overloaded with paperwork and office functions they rarely ever leave the office to see whats going on in their facility.
    I remember when getting out on the “floor” was critical to managing/operating/running a parkiing facility. We would always be out in the facility for the fill and the peak exit periods.
    I have heard the words “put out fires” used to describe some companies’ operating philosophy as in we “can always put out fires”. Problem is sometimes you don’t have enough fire trucks.
    I better stop now before I continue rambling having digressed quite a bit.

  3. Well, I would say that I clearly MANAGE and OPERATE the facility here. As RMR says I clearly manage employees, create budgets, market their facility, handle claims, hire personnel, interface with building owners, do the accounting, banking, perform rate surveys and even produce P&L reports. I dont wear a suit every day, but quite often.
    So here is my question… how much do managers get paid vs. how much do operators make?

  4. Those who are truly “managing the operations” tend to “earn” as much as their abilities to perform allow. They will typically have incentive clauses in the contracts that make it a win/win in that the more they make the more the owners make.
    Those that don’t reach the incentive plateau usually find themselves in a re-bid situation.

  5. JVH,
    Maybe we could set up a poll on the board to do some salary benchmarking. I have not seen many salary benchmarking statistics for our industry. What do you think?

  6. Benchmarking the anmount of pay would be a hard thing to accomplish with any meaningful results simply because of the wide range variables that apply to this business. It would be interesting to see how many managers have incentive clauses in their contracts versus straight salary, and then see which properties have better year to year performance and which have better manager retention.

  7. Well — I agree that the contract makes the deal – however in many cases, and I would posit MOST cases, the operators fold when the owner pressures for lower fees and lower expenses. The fact is in the end, however, no matter the reason, parking line managers are underpaid for their responsibilities

  8. It’s important to note that parking facility manager’s may be under paid for their responsibilites, BUT are they underpaid for their performance. I’d venture to say more often than we care to admit they are overpaid.

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