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Want a job in Parking? “Working Knowledge of Parking Management Information Systems a Plus”

I was asked by the International Downtown Association to provide a bit of input as to finding and hiring parking managers. Here, in part, is what I wrote:

The suggestion is to look for someone with experience in all aspects of the parking business. If they have worked for private operators, so much the better. If they have had experience in municipal operations in cities of your size or slightly smaller, great! Perhaps they are number two in a municipal parking organization and looking to move up. By the way, don’t be afraid to pay an appropriate salary. Remember you are asking them to run a multimillion dollar operation with many staff, a large amount of equipment, high tech software and apps, and you are expecting them to be sure the mayor’s wife doesn’t get a ticket. If you are paying less than the local McDonalds, expect less. You get what you pay for.

I have put the relevant part of the City of Cambridge job description for the Parking Services Manager for the City. Note where the word “parking” falls. Next to last sentence. The most important thing is a Bachelor’s Degree, IT experience, and familiarity with the City of Cambridge. Any knowledge about parking “a plus.”

Bachelor’s Degree in Business or Public Administration or other relevant field plus seven or more years of experience in staff supervision, customer service, financial management, information technology and operations management or an equivalent combination of education/experience required.  Must have demonstrated ability to exercise sound judgment, especially in making fair and impartial customer service decisions; to work in a collaborative, team environment; and to maintain discretion and confidentiality with customer, database and other information.  Must have excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to explain technical information and analysis to the general public. Must be well organized and able to manage multiple responsibilities within a complex, multi-disciplinary, multi-variate environment.  Strong information technology experience preferred, demonstrated experience with Microsoft Office programs required. Familiarity with City of Cambridge street and building locations and the Cambridge community at large and working knowledge of Parking Management Information Systems and Geographical Information Systems a plus.  Must have demonstrated experience leading and managing a workgroup and creating an integrated team capable of delivering a high-quality product while balancing multiple competing concerns.

I know, I’m just a luddite. But wouldn’t a working knowledge of a municipal parking operation be at least mentioned in the job description? I can see someone who has done an excellent job running the city’s parks department for the past decade applying for and getting this position. They would meet all the criteria. Only they wouldn’t have a clue about parking.

But then, how hard can it be? Its only parking cars.

JVH

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3 Responses to Want a job in Parking? “Working Knowledge of Parking Management Information Systems a Plus”

  1. Pauline says:

    I am struggling with the same scenario except reversed, the incumbent with year of parking experience feels that is more important than leadership, business, accounting qualifications, being able to associate cause and effect, i.e. in developing policy.

    I came with a strong business/accounting background and learned the industry of parking quickly. I think the leadership and business skills are more important, you can learn the parking industry fairly quickly – that doesn’t mean it isn’t complex. In a parking operation, you will be highly successful applying your leadership, intuitive, business skills to the industry – you don’t need to have a parking background – you are the leader, not the technician.

  2. MJC says:

    I completely agree, well said.

  3. rta says:

    Bottom line is you need both skill sets. I’ve seen very talented managers completely bomb in a parking operation, and I’ve also seen very talented parking “operators” fail miserably when put in a management position.

    Parking is a very hands on business, and the best of the best understand every facet of this business from the ground up. Hiring someone for a major leadership position that you “hope” will either learn the business or else develop high level management skills is a crap shoot.

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