I have a secret obsession: I like to find online articles about parking management decisions in various communities and read the comments that the local folks add at the end. Sometimes I don’t even read the articles. I shoot straight to the bottom and read the comments. Most times, those comments read like this:
“I can’t believe they are going to charge for parking…nobody is ever going to come downtown again!”
“Why does the city constantly try to hurt business? More parking management means less customers.”
You almost never read:
“Why, what a wonderful idea! Now I will be able to find a convenient parking space.”
For so long, our industry has been plagued by perception: there is not enough parking, parking costs too much, suburbs with free parking are better than downtowns with paid parking, parking enforcement is only out to get people’s money.
It’s up to parking professionals to change those perceptions, and it’s amazing what little decisions can do to help change a customer’s mind about parking. A focus on improving customer service goes a long way in changing the perception of parking, both inside and outside of our industry. The ultimate goal of parking managers today should be maximizing customer experiences rather than focusing on maximizing revenue. Because, just like they told Kevin Costner’s character in “Field of Dreams,” “If you make the parking experience better, they will come.”
We don’t have to go that far to improve the perception of parking. We just need to start thinking about how our customers will use and appreciate our parking decisions.