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Property Owners Want Integrity; Operators Say They Want Low Price

Last month, Parking Today published responses from Commercial Operators as to the biggest concerns they have in dealing with clients, and what they thought were the biggest concerns that their clients, the Facility Owners, have. This month, we turned the tables and asked the Owners what their biggest concerns are when hiring Operators.
Fully 75 percent of the Owners mentioned integrity and profitability in their responses, while one-third of Operators thought Owners wanted integrity and
profitability.
One-third of the Operators thought that the biggest concerns of Owners would be integrity and the profitability of the location. However, Operators thought that the price charged was also very important to Owners. Operators, it seems, believe that the quality of their management skills was extremely important to Owners.
Based on this very unscientific finding, Operators need to work on the perception of their honesty and integrity, and Owners need to communicate their need for this trait more successfully in their Requests for Quotations. Let's face it, Owners, the Commercial Operators think all you care about is cost. How are you going to get the highest quality company if the companies you interview truly believe all you care about is the lowest price?

The Owners' responses follow:

Be honest in all things. Follow through on all aspects, even if you bid too low just to get the contract. Don't make the owner pay for your mistakes or arrogance. The owner should not have to watch you like a hawk or chase you down for every little thing just to make sure you are doing your job as per the contract. Provide full accounting and back-up documents without having to be asked.
Be honest and above board in all things.
-- Ken Petry, Manager, Parking Facilities,
Vancouver Coastal Health Authority

Attention to detail. Timely reports. Always looking for ways to increase revenue. Good maintenance program. Team players. Bring solutions to the table. Depth of experience.
-- Clark C. Rice, CPP,
Kemper Development Co.

1) The company's reputation within the geographical area where they are conducting business.
2) The professionalism and the commitment to customer service of the parking staff and management.
3) The ability of the company to produce profit without sacrificing the quality of their service.
-- Doug Moore,
FDC Enterprises
Does the company have a reputation for honesty and integrity?
Is the company "deep enough" to provide the proper levels of staffing needed in our facilities (especially on those days when someone calls in sick or when a special project is requested)?
Does its corporate office provide a high level of support to its managers and other employees (e.g., training, new technology, methods of reporting)?
-- Anne I. Hayes,
St. Paul Travelers

The ideal operator would be a company with a trustworthy record: that is, a company motivated to hold down costs while at the same time increasing customer service.
The answer to this question is often hidden in the type of agreement the customer chooses.
With a Concession agreement, there is little incentive for the operator to increase or maintain customer service. With the Management agreement, there is little incentive for the operator to hold down costs. If the customer has the will and is interested, the "self-rule" option seems the best, since customer service and budget control are completely up to the airport.
-- Stuart Gilbert,
State of Alaska DOT

No. 1 is complete management, free of problems for the owner.
No. 2 is profit.
No. 3 is attention to detail and complete reporting.
-- David Felt,
Gibraltar Finance

Listen, not assume.
Prepare a proposal for my operation.
Listen again.
-- Collins S. Downing, Manager,
Loyola Transportation

It is most important to have correct accountability. When hiring an operator to manage your facility, it is very easy to forget to "audit" all activity. Also, good customer service skills is a key factor and, as always, low costs!
-- Allen Saunders,
qWest Center

Efficient and effective operations, based on written policies and procedures that are specific to each garage/lot.
Effective communications that inform and protect the owner's and management company's interests. This should include appropriate reporting. (I require a rotation of parker lists -- alphabetically by parker one month, card number the next month, and alphabetically by tenant the following month. That way I have reports no older than one quarter for quick reference in my office, and it ensures that the operator maintains current records.)
Cash and system controls and reporting to provide assurance of economic performance.
-- D. Dillard,
Trinity Partners

Security, location and cost. Followed by convenience and cleanliness.
-- John Conley,
Barco Products

Innovative approach to marketing and customer service in order to increase volumes.
Comprehensive and timely reporting capabilities.
Justification for a long-term partnership arrangement.
-- Larry Schneider,
ARRB Transport Research

Experience. Innovation. Fidelity.
-- Wallace Heggie, CPPB,
City of Meridian, MS

Items to consider:
1) Operational costs.
2) Operator's familiarity with the local market.
3) Operator's creative thinking in increasing revenue.
4) Qualifications of the manager assigned to the facility.
-- Dilip Nandwana,
International Parking Design

Relevant experience of operator/local GM with size, complexity, speed, type of operation like ours.
Integrity of GM, AGM.
Relevant creative problem-solving in technology, management, personnel/union issues.
Lack of upline micromanaging from operator's managers.
We want the local GM to spend time solving our issues not needed to placate
the regional managers or above.
There's a start.
-- Rick Decker,
Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport

We're a non-hub airport that has struggled since 9/11. The things important to us are:
1. Price of operator's service.
2. Flexibility in staffing.
3. Structure of agreement (i.e., how are costs shared, how is risk shared, how are costs controlled, how are operators rewarded for good service, etc.).
-- Glenn Januska,
Sioux City (IA) Airport

Customer service is important, but revenue control is also right up there. In the last five years, I have internalized two outside parking operations. The daily revenue at the first location more than doubled, and at the second location, it more than quadrupled. My feeling is that most of the operators want a lot of locations, but they really do not have the expertise to control them.
A few years ago, my Southern counterpart was in town and I arranged to tour a local garage with new pay-on-foot equipment. The garage was run by an outside operator. I asked the manager what the monthly/yearly gross was. His answer: "I don't know." This was the worst answer that could be given.
I've heard the saying that a good manager can manage anyone. My actual belief is that that may work in other places; however, in parking management -- particularly audit control -- you need parking expertise.
-- Joe Randisi,
Kaiser Permanente

Honesty. Integrity. Great customer service and responsiveness.
-- Glen Sicard,
University of Rochester

Good, auditable reporting records.
Great service at a fair price.
Professional appearance (polite, clean employees, etc.).
-- Brian West,
Crystal Asset Management

1. Know the product.
2. Show up for work, and then work hard.
3. Remember at all times that the caller is the customer. Treat the caller with that respect.
4. Always end with a thank you.
-- Kent Blackwell,
AFE Industries

The ability to pull up requested information immediately .
Control and knowledge of its on-site staff
-- Michael Eismann,
SG Detroit

Understanding of parking equipment. (Please don't vandalize those printers if they are out of ink, and don't blame the software when there is a fried hard disk inside the terminal.)
Understanding the software. (There is no magic to software. Every unknown error or problem is not a software glitch.)
Honesty. (Those reports don't match 'cause your people steal and auditors are not smart enough to compare the shift close-out reports with the system-generated reports.)
-- Nikhil Joshi


Support the company mission.
Good personality.
Adaptability with parking.
-- Chuck Smallwood,
Scripps

1) Professional and courteous communication skills.
2) Ability to handle issues independently.
3) Follow-through to ensure that issues are resolved.
-- Nancy Bao,
Children's National Medical Center

Although ours is not a commercial operation, I look for Integrity, Dependability and People Skills.
A person may not remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
-- Ssgt. C.M. Truitt,
University of Southern Indiana

Article Abstract from October, 2004




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