The Politics of Parking
By Cynthia Lang, CAPP, MPA
When you hear the word “politics,” parking may not the first thought to come to mind. Those of us who work in this industry know all too well that politics can and does play a role. Let’s examine how politics may play into parking.
The politics of parking generally take the form of “reserved” parking spaces. At hospitals, there are signs for physicians; universities have dedicated parking for department heads and senior university staff; and at legal building, judges may have dedicated parking. Regardless of the industry, at some point in time a customer will walk into the parking office and start the conversation with the statement, “I am the Director of X office, my organization informed me I would not be given a parking permit.” Immediately you know this is a conversation requiring listening skills and how to say no, you will not be getting a permit – without actually saying the word no. Clearly the customer’s position clues you in they feel entitled to a dedicated space. So, what do you do? How do you navigate the sense of entitlement based on position or power?
First, listen to the customer’s request. Next, when responding stick to the facts. Do not provide more information than is required to answer the question or request. This will only cause more questions, demand, or a comparison of how Customer X has something he or she does not- followed by why can’t I? If the customer has already been denied permanent parking, only offer solutions per the applicable parking policy for your location. If things escalate, keep a calm level voice, ask the customer to have a seat, state the request is beyond your authority, and get the immediate supervisor or parking manager.
The parking manager may have several unassigned spaces only he or she can approve to support individual customer requests. The customer support team is there to support the customers using the guidelines and training provided. Supervisors and managers must be in the wings to provide a protective shield again those who try to use position and politics to get what they want – a dedicated parking space!