Tag Archives: customer service

IPMI Webinar: The CCPA and State Efforts to Protect Consumer Privacy: What the Parking Industry Should Know

Live Online Webcast: Free for CPPA and IPMI Members $25.00 for Non-members

The California Public Parking Association (CPPA) in partnership with IPMI is hosting this presentation that will review the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 and various state efforts to protect the privacy of its citizens, including:

  • An overview of common privacy threats and legal landscape:  Shooting at a moving target
  • The intersection of expanding customer expectations and legal obligations
  • Discussion of what makes an information security/privacy program “defensible”?
  • The ROI for investing time and resources in an information security/privacy program
  • Effective strategizing for moving to the next level of cybersecurity and privacy protection

Objectives:

  • Understand the changing legal landscape related to consumer privacy and the likely legal changes on the horizon;
  • What efforts that they can engage in now to both prepare to meet their specific legal obligations and to implement information security/privacy program “best practices” in their organizations; and
  • Which internal and external resources (e.g., data privacy officers, outside counsel, information security experts) can help them right-size their efforts regarding a fast changing area of the law.

Presenters:

Sue Friedburg is the co-chair of Buchanan’s Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Group.  Sue advises clients about the rapidly evolving standards of care for safeguarding confidential information and responding effectively to security incidents that threaten to compromise our client’s valuable or protected information.  Sue has extensive experience advising clients on the fast-changing world of consumer privacy laws at the federal and state level.

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Holland regularly advises clients from all business sectors on the impact of consumer privacy laws and legislation that continue to be a hot topic across the United States.  Bringing his experience to businesses offering a variety of products and services, Rob helps them address the sometimes thorny implementation issues related to the laws.  No two businesses are the same, and Rob brings that recognition to help each business craft a unique approach to protect their customers and their reputations.

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Wrona is a legal veteran to the parking industry, having served as counsel to a number of public and private parking operators and related businesses.  Notably, Jason has served as the outside counsel to the Pittsburgh Parking Authority for more than 10 years.  He has a deep understanding of all facets of the parking industry and is proud to be counted as a “parking nerd.”

Member News: Flowbird Uses Advanced Technology To Limit Contact During Transactions

May 6th, 2020

Company focuses on reducing germ spread while supporting city financial health

Moorestown, NJ – Flowbird Group has announced recent developments that limit the amount of physical interaction with its parking kiosks and an alternative to avoid the kiosks altogether. The leader in curbside management, having been involved in downtown commerce for over 50 years, plays a critical role in urban mobility. The company’s solutions have helped cities worldwide collect vital revenue that is reinvested to provide invaluable services to the community. During this global pandemic, the physical and financial health of cities are being threatened, leading Flowbird to respond to the call.

One such feature is Flowbird’s latest release of pay station software called, “recall”, which is now available on the CWT smart parking kiosk.  How does it work? The recall feature makes a ‘token’ from the credit card used the first time a driver makes a transaction at a kiosk. The next time they return and swipe their card, the kiosk will suggest the same license plate number and phone number for text receipts. This limits the amount of physical interaction when entering their license plate number for pay-by-plate transactions, or entering their phone number for time expiration reminders and receipts. The recall function is an optional feature that the City operator can choose to enable on their kiosks.

While credit card use at Flowbird kiosks remain high and contactless payments rise in popularity, Flowbird reminds and encourages drivers to use ‘tap-to-pay’ methods whenever possible. Several Flowbird clients are in the final phases of launching contactless/NFC payments, including the ability to accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and credit cards with the NFC symbol.  This method of payment eliminates another touchpoint at the kiosk.

For users who are not quite ready to interact with pay stations or meters, Flowbird continues to provide and make advances to its Flowbird mobile payment application. The latest release of the app was recently launched at the end of April, giving drivers the option to search, filter, book and pay for a parking reservation before they even leave their home.  This gives motorists a completely contactless parking experience.

“Our number one concern will always be our customers and their safety,” said Benoit Reliquet, President of Flowbird, North America, “Over the last several months, we have also seen city revenues dropping tremendously, so it is important that we offer as many ways as possible for cities to continue to collect parking fees while ensuring the health and wellbeing of its citizens.”

Currently, Flowbird supports over 40,000 parking pay stations for over 600 customers throughout the U.S.  Their mobile apps have been deployed in over 600 municipalities and universities around the world including 100 locations in the United States, with over 1.5 million mobile users globally.

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Flowbird US Media Contact
Sean Renn – Vice President of Marketing & Communications
856-220-1577
sean.renn@flowbird.group
www.flowbird.group

GARAGE CASE STUDY: An Automated Solution to Parking Perils

By Christian Hermansen

PARKING IS A NECESSARY EVIL IN THE PUBLIC’S MIND. It’s something we all do be­fore going shopping, hanging out with friends, or catching a game. It’s the experi­ence before the experience.

As someone who has recently joined the parking-sphere, I see parking as something where you either have a neutral experience or a below-­average one. Con­sumers rarely perceive a top-notch parking experience.

This lines up with the feedback I hear from friends, family, and members of the general public. People forget the times where everything worked perfectly but re­member the bad experi­ences when it all went wrong. Circling for ages and not being able to find a space, getting confused by not knowing where to drive, and the resulting congestion are all reasons for a negative parking experience.

Parking is also (normally) the first impression a customer gets of the place he or she has just arrived. Everyone knows how important the first impression is in any interaction! It sets the tone for the expe­rience. Making it easy, stress-free, and frictionless means your customer is content when he or she walks in the door ready to engage with your offering rather than lamenting over the bad experience in your park­ing lot.

Many large providers and operators of parking, particularly shopping centers, airports, and cities, are acknowledging this and are taking steps to ensure the best neutral (or even net positive) experience possible for users of their parking. If only there was some way of automatically displaying occupancy and guiding people to available parking spaces.

Circling for ages and not being able to find a space, getting confused by not knowing where to drive, and the resulting congestion are all reasons for a negative parking experience.

Case Study: Irvine Spectrum Center

The Irvine Company has worked for five years to make parking easier for visitors to the massive Southern California shopping center the Irvine Spectrum Cen­ter. It started with the outdoor parking area and then moved to the indoor spaces, with a number of custom requirements catered for along the way.

When the company sought to install another in­door solution at the new Block 800 parking garage on the south side of the site, it took into consideration lessons learned from its established Irvine Center parking areas. Being a new garage, a key component of this project was to keep that minimal, slick, and premium look and feel with the parking guidance installation.

Since implementing the initial parking guidance project at the Irvine Spectrum Center, a new method of detecting vehicles, using an eye-safe, class-one laser sensor mounted in the middle of the driving aisle instead of an older, Bluetooth sensor, had been developed. Users say it offers detection ac­curacy but also greater reliability from eliminating batteries, having no hardware on the often harsh road surface, and a lower cost of install.
But with a new sensor in the equation, the integration done in the past with the site’s existing strip-lighting and LED guidance lights needed a redesign to incorporate new components.

Retrofitting
With a large, internal team of product and hardware engi­neers, along with a dose of can-do attitude, the vendor was able to produce a new fixture to seamlessly attach to the end of lighting enclosures.

There are some other significant benefits to integrating parking guidance technology with existing lighting infra­structure. For example, integrating with the existing infra­structure at the parking lot meant an extremely low-impact installation. Installers were able to use an existing power supply and wire power into the same power supply as the lights, reducing costly cabling or the need for specialized power points.

Anecdotal evidence on the ground suggests the parking guidance is working. Speaking to parking users on a recent site visit, I was told they thought the garage looked smart, new, premium, and clean. Users also told us they enjoyed the easy journey and fast parking and compared the experience they’d just had with an experience in a garage without parking guidance. Customers often cited those “red and green lights and the signs” as the reason for that.

An easier parking experience gets you off on the right foot with your customers. Reduce the time to park, re­duce congestion, reduce circulation time and increase your customer’s experience.

Read the article here.

CHRISTIAN HERMANSEN is brand manager with Frogparking. He can be reached at christian@frogparking.com.

 

BECOMING OUTSTANDING

tpp-2016-03-becoming-outstandingBy Cindy Campbell

Customer service is an interesting thing, isn’t it? As with most service industries, it seems as if parking agencies talk about customer service and how to deliver it ad nauseam. We all want to be on the receiving end of superior service delivery, but many still struggle with how to define and deliver it. Oh sure, there are the routine descriptors: Friendly, helpful, kind, congenial, accommodating. All of these are true enough, but what tools are we providing within our organizations to deliver this top-level service?

I recently spent three days  at a hotel property that I will not soon forget, and I mean that in the best possible way. From the moment I arrived, every interaction I had with hotel staff was exceptional. Everyone was accommodating, personable, and kind, but it went deeper than that. Across the board, they all seemed to genuinely like being there.

On the last day of my stay, I had a conversation with a young woman who had been my server each morning at breakfast. I shared my observations about the exceptional service I’d enjoyed throughout the hotel. She was appreciative of my comments, yet she didn’t seem at all surprised. During our brief discussion, she talked about the hotel management’s philosophy of service: Employees need to feel good about what they do and what they’re empowered to do for the customer.

She told me about daily employee briefings. They celebrate each other’s successes on an ongoing basis. “I feel really supported by my supervisors and my team of co-workers,” she said. The smile on her face gave me no reason to doubt her sincerity. I asked her if this was the first hotel property she had worked for. It was not—she had worked for other properties prior to getting this position about three years ago. “I’ll be honest,” she said, “it was a bit of a culture shock to me at the beginning, but they provide a lot of training on how things are to be done here. I’ve never worked anywhere that had such high standards, but I can tell you that I’ve never been happier. I really like what I do. I like our team.”

Does this theory of service translate to parking? I think it can and should, but we sometimes inadvertently overlook the critical step of building a strong team before we ask our team members to go out and individually deliver service.

Translating to Parking
If you’re contemplating how to go about improving customer service delivery within your organization, here are five points worth considering as you set the stage for success:

  1. Effective customer service requires teamwork. While most staff work independently, it’s important to emphasize that they belong to a larger team. Training is required to effectively think and work like a team.
  2. Hold team meetings or pre-shift briefings. Daily is best but not always feasible. In the absence of daily face-to-face briefings, post updates online or on a team briefing board. Make sure to include praise and positive comments received about team members.
  3. Empower your staff. Once they’ve been trained to perform their job tasks, give them enough latitude to independently do good things for customers. I once worked for a police chief who always said, “Empower your team. You’ll find that 98 percent of the time, they’ll do good things on our behalf. We can deal with the other 2 percent.”
  4. Make customer follow-up a high priority. An organization that doesn’t place high value on timely follow-up with customers will have difficulty being perceived as professional and customer service-oriented.
  5. Encourage team members to feel good about themselves and what they do. Acknowledge and celebrate successes. Large or small, all positive feedback received from customers, supervisors, and other team members should be shared. Acknowledge good work and noble efforts. Offer praise for professionally dealing with a challenging customer.

They say that an organization’s reputation is only as good as the service it delivers. What is your organization’s current reputation?

CINDY CAMPBELL is IPI’s senior training and development specialist. She is available for onsite training and professional development and can be reached at campbell@parking.org.

TPP-2016-03 Becoming Outstanding

IPMI On-Demand Webinar: Cracking the Code to Sustaining a Customer Service Culture

OFFERED FREE TO MEMBERS THROUGH JUNE 2020.

Regular Pricing: $35.00 for IPMI Members, $50.00 for Non-Members

Register Button

In this webinar, the key tactics that can be used to sustain a customer service culture within your organization will be reviewed. The webinar will give you practical solutions to implement with limited time and dollars including: refresher training ideas, reward and recognition program options and mechanisms to create feedback channels with employees that can help to address common customer challenges proactively, so some customer service issues can be avoided altogether.
Objectives:

1. Recognize customer service program components that be motivating and effective within an organization’s workforce;

2. Implement tactics within their own operations to develop and sustain a customer service culture.

Presenter:

VICKI_PEROVicki Pero, SPHR
Marlyn Group clients ensuring Employee Training, and Organizational Development programs align with operational needs. Vicki has over seventeen years of experience in the parking industry. She is a member of the Green Parking Council Board of Directors, serving as Treasurer. She is also a member of IPMI, where she serves on the Education Development Committee.

Wow Your Customers

tpp-2016-04-wow-your-customersBy Dennis Snow

Three keys for delivering great service. 

The term “customer service” evokes different images in people’s minds. One image could be that of friendly, smiling, helpful employees who go out of their way to serve you. Or it could be the opposite—indifferent, unfriendly employees who can’t wait for you to leave or hang up the phone.

Most people can recall many examples of poor customer service. Whether it’s the help desk employee who puts you on
hold for 20 minutes or the store cashier who engages in a personal conversation instead of ringing up your purchase, poor
customer service can make people feel frustrated and vow never to do business with that company again.

On the other hand, great service feels like a gift. It makes us want to continue to do business with an organization for the long haul. And that alone is the secret to business success—retaining customers by providing great customer service. With so much competition out there, customer loyalty is the single most important attribute your business can have. You achieve loyalty by doing the little things that make customers want to deal with you again and again and recommend you to their friends. The real difference is how a business makes its customers feel. If customers feel valued, most will remain loyal. If they feel under-valued, sooner or later, they will defect to a competitor.

Why They Leave
Several reasons exist for why customers defect from a company. They may move away, a competitor may lure them away, or they may leave because they are unhappy with the product. However, a recent study found that a whopping 68 percent of customers who defect do so because of poor service. That’s a sobering statistic. The study further noted how customers defined poor service: “an attitude of indifference on the part of employees.” So while bad service certainly causes customers to leave, indifferent service can be just as detrimental.

Nurturing Loyalty
With two out of every three customers citing poor customer service as a reason for leaving, what can your company do to achieve customer loyalty? Assuming your products and prices are competitive, you need to focus on providing superior customer service. To do that, here are three simple steps to help you make sure your customers stay with your company:

1. Look through the lens of the customer.
No matter what industry you’re in, chances are that you interact with customers at some level. Realize that customers can be drivers who want to park their cars, shoppers at a store, patrons at a bank, patients of a doctor, clients of a law firm, etc. Because customers have their choice of where to obtain goods or services, the business has to convince the customer that it truly cares. An engaged, caring employee raises the customer’s confidence that the business is looking out for the customer’s interests. When that employee suggests a new product or service, the customer trusts that his or her best interest is at heart. On the flip side, if the customer senses a lack of caring, he or she will question the motives behind any recommendations.

Every business has its jargon, so be careful to speak in a language customers understand. Successful businesses speak the language of the customer, not the language of their own industry. Take, for example, the banking industry. Would a young couple buying their first house be looking through the same lens as a customer who buys and sells real estate for a living? Of course not. That young couple purchasing their first house is excited and nervous—that is the lens with which they are experiencing this purchase. Therefore, they need loan officers who are excited for them, who explain the terms in everyday language, and
who provide information that will make their buying experience easier. A bank that shows that level of care is likely to earn that young couple’s ongoing business.

The same applies for customer complaints, which can be frustrating for customers and employees alike. As employees, we often can’t understand why a customer is making such a big deal about a particular issue. Didn’t the customer read the contract? (Probably not.) Doesn’t the customer understand that researching a problem takes time? (No.) Remember, it’s not the customer’s job to see through the business’s lens; it’s the business’s job to see through the customer’s lens and show an understanding
of the customer’s frustration.

Next time you are working with a customer, stop and ask yourself: “Am I seeing this experience through the customer’s lens?”

2. When it comes to a company’s environment, recognize that everything speaks.
Imagine visiting a fine-dining restaurant for a special occasion. You’ve been looking forward to the meal, and you’ve heard good things about the restaurant. Then imagine noticing something crusty dried to your silverware and old lipstick marks on your water glass. Wouldn’t you begin worrying about the cleanliness and quality of everything else in the restaurant? Everything speaks!

Now imagine a customer entering a place of business. She notices trash in the parking lot. When she enters the reception area, she sees delivery boxes stacked by the receptionist’s desk. She sees employees standing around eating and having personal conversations. All of this detracts from your business’s image. Consciously or unconsciously, the customer’s antenna goes up and
makes him or her question, “Do I really want to spend my money here?”

The “everything speaks” philosophy means all employees understand that even the little things count. So pay attention to everything, including whether the physical environment is neat and clean, whether all necessary supplies are available, whether
employees are dressed appropriately, etc. Anything that sticks out as wrong becomes an intrusion on the customer experience. These intrusions add up and result in customer concern. On the other hand, when customers sense an atmosphere of professionalism, care, and order, they feel a sense of confidence.

How many times have you seen employees in a business walk right past trash on the floor or a display that has been bumped
out of alignment? Employees who understand that everything speaks will take a moment to pick up some wadded paper
and straighten the display because they know such behaviors have a direct impact on the customer experience.

Take a moment to think about your company’s environment. Because everything speaks, what are the details saying about
your organization?

3. Create customer “wow”s.
Small gestures can create customer wows. Consider the housekeepers working in the hotels at Walt Disney World. Housekeepers have a tough job. Cleaning up after people on vacation is a challenge. Even in such a challenging job, Disney’s housekeepers will do little things that make guests say “wow.” For example, while spending a day in the Magic Kingdom, children will often leave their stuffed Disney characters in their hotel room. Housekeepers have been known to position the characters with playing cards in their hands or tuck the characters into the children’s bed to create a moment of magic.

Employees can do many things to create wows. Remembering a customer’s name is a huge wow, creating a feeling of family. Letting a customer know that another product may better meet their needs is another wow. Sending a goody basket with a handwritten note to that young couple who just took out their first mortgage is a wow. Some wows are small, and some are large, but make no mistake about it—wows add up.

One of the most powerful ways to create wows is to share best practices with fellow employees. Hold a company meeting so employees can share things that they have done that dazzled customers. Just talking about these behaviors increases the likelihood
that others will adopt some of the practices or create new ones of their own. It is also likely that some wows can become standard procedure, whether it’s a grocery store bakery handing out fresh-baked cookies to children or salespeople escorting customers to a product rather than simply pointing.

Next time you’re helping a customer, ask yourself, “Will my behaviors make this customer say or think ‘wow’?”

Take Action Now
Excellent service is not about policy manuals. Excellent service is about excellent behaviors. When employees focus on excellent service, the results can be magical. Customers are happy, employees are happy, and shareholders are happy. Everyone wins. The key is to make service excellence a habit. Encourage every employee to internalize the above steps so they become habits. When employees focus on these principles, your company will achieve the most powerful result of all—intense customer loyalty.

 

DENNIS SNOW is a speaker, consultant, and author of two books, “Lessons from the Mouse: A Guide for Applying Disney World’s Secrets of Success to Your Organization, Your Career, and Your Life” and “Unleashing Excellence: The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service.” He can be reached at dennis@snowassociates.com or 407.294.1855.

TPP-2016-04 Wow Your Customers

Two Plain Hamburgers. No Fries.

tpp-2016-05-two-plain-hamburgers-no-friesby Cindy Campbell

Very few of us have ever received specific training on effective listening. My first formal course on the topic came in a workshop about Steven Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Covey talks about listening skills, or more appropriately, the lack thereof. One of the points made about his fifth habit—seek first to understand, then to be understood—rang true with me: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Why do we do this? Were we taught in our formative years to ignore message content? Perhaps not explicitly, but in some ways I suppose we were. For the sake of efficiency or expedience, we learned to listen for key words and to anticipate phrases so that we could reply quickly.

As adults, we filter everything we hear through our own life experience and previous knowledge. Sometimes in our haste—certainly more often than we realize—we draw the wrong conclusions, completely missing what someone is really trying to tell us. When this occurs in our business dealings, we risk being perceived as uncaring, disinterested, or even mechanical in our responses. In an industry in which the public’s perception can be critical to our success, leaving customers with a bad impression
can prove to be costly on many levels.

No Fries
In line at a fast-food place (don’t judge me), I recently overheard a conversation that illustrates Covey’s assessment of the importance of listening.

“How are you today?” asked the employee. “Would you care to try one of our new menu items?”
“No, thank you,” came the reply. “I’d like two plain hamburgers and nothing else. To go.”
“Would you like anything to drink?”
“No, no drink. Just the burgers.”
“Okay. Would you like anything else?”
“No. Nothing else.”
“OK, so that’s one hamburger …”
“No, I’d like two hamburgers.”
“OK, so two hamburgers. Would you like any fries?”
“No fries. Just two plain hamburgers. That’s it. To go.”
“So two plain hamburgers, no fries. And, I’m sorry, what did you say you wanted to drink?”
“No drink.”
“OK, will that be for here or to go?”

As I stood there, I could feel the tension radiating from the customer trying to order his meal. I wondered how long it would be before he ventured back in for another hamburger.

Listening
Now, I recognize that we don’t sell fast food, but the lesson from this observation still applies. In the parking industry, our product is a combination of services and access accompanied by a healthy dose of problem-solving and chaos prevention. Customers
don’t always fully understand or appreciate our services. Often, they can be unpleasant and difficult to assist and yet despite their attitudes and the lack of respect they may exhibit toward us, we must still provide them with an attitude of service. Pretending to listen or only listening selectively is not providing service. It’s withholding service.

As industry leaders, we must recognize that active listening plays a vital role in how we are perceived. To be successful, we must instill the attitudes and aptitudes for active listening within our organization. Active, in-the-moment listening conveys significant proof of genuine care about what the speaker is saying, thinking, or feeling. It isn’t necessary to agree with or even to understand everything that is being said; we simply have to set aside our preconceived ideas about what’s coming next and try to understand someone else’s point of view.

One last thought on the importance of active listening: Good listening skills can improve relationships beyond the office. Listening effectively can bring understanding and cooperation to our interactions with our friends, our family, and especially our significant others and our children. We owe it to ourselves and to those important to us to be fully present and listen carefully.

CINDY CAMPBELL is IPI’s senior training and development specialist. She is available for onsite training and professional development and can be reached at  campbell@parking.org.

TPP-2016-05-Two Hamburgers. No Fries.

Leaving the Desk

by Gloria Gallo, CAPP

Looking for insight into your parking operation? Spend a day with a frontline professional.tpp-2016-06-leaving-the-desk_page_1

AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE FORT LEE, N.J., PARKING AUTHORITY (LPA), I find it critical to spend time out on the street with my employees from time to time to get an idea of the issues they encounter on a regular basis. I have come to realize this practice not only benefits me as the director, offering insight into the positions and enhancing my own awareness of what goes on between my employees and the general public, but more importantly, it gives my officers a sense of worth that the agency they work for is interested in knowing firsthand about that part of the operation—the issues they encounter, how they handle disputes, and other complications. This also gives the employees the opportunity to demonstrate how well they do their jobs—or not.

In most cases, I have found officers are eager to share all they know and are more than open to suggestions to resolve their dilemmas. They are happy to show me how much I am missing sitting in my office on the phone or at meetings. I have found going out on the road with my officers here and there to check on equipment performance, defuse a specific situation, or to determine why summonses are down/up, etc., is not really enough. It has become apparent that there is still much more going on and much to be learned by being out there in that day-to-day environment in the capacity of the officer. This experience has given me an incredible amount of valuable knowledge.

Because most people do not recognize all the services some parking authorities provide to their communities, these agencies are only looked upon as the ticket-giving departments of municipalities. As we all know, parking enforcement officers (PEOs) meet all kinds of controversy out on the streets, and how they act and react has a tremendous effect on the public’s perspective of the authority, both structurally and politically.

Parking enforcement officers are the face of your agency; that realization becomes clear when people come into your office and complain about a citation they received and are upset about the officer’s behavior, whether founded or unfounded. The public groups together the director and the entire staff in their unique perspective of an unsettling experience. Directors find themselves needing to be diplomatic and understanding of the public’s side of the story while needing to support the officer’s decision on how the situation was handled, even though the director was not there, has no idea what was said back and forth, and may not even be familiar with such incidents. However, directors can get a better feel for the overall picture and what staff approaches should be during controversy when they have had firsthand experience on the road dealing with the public.

The Battle
Everyone deserves to feel appreciated and respected for the job he or she does. One thing I have learned from witnessing the backlash an enforcement officer gets from some members of the public is we have to be thickskinned. People can be cruel when they feel they have been wronged, and that’s when the battle begins. There are so many excuses used, and some are legitimate, but most are not. The public is also under the impression they can dispute and correct any misunderstanding or errors right there on the street. Some get so angry they spit, tear up their tickets and throw them in our faces, and then scream out a number of commonly used expletives. Parking officers must really step back and remove themselves from these types of situations, both physically and emotionally.

Many people are simply uncomfortable with the presence of a parking officer, even when they are not in any violation. Just seeing an officer walking down the street checking meters annoys some enough to call out or to go running to the officers to make sure their vehicles are safe from ticketing. As a firsthand observer, the director gains a whole new respect for the job these employees do.

Getting Heated
A lesson from my days shadowing staff on the street: Officers generally welcome guidance in dealing with heated disputes. We might take for granted that our people would deal with the public accordingly, but it can be quite difficult to maintain composure in the midst of some intense situations. The ability to defuse a situation that becomes chaotic is an essential tool necessary for the officers’ effectiveness, as well as their safety. As a group, which includes members of the administrative staff, I find it invaluable to discuss these matters and share experiences and methods that work and don’t work. Both types of methods are equally important to examine. It would be advantageous to any agency to enroll its officers in professional training seminars that focus on the dos and don’ts of enforcement confrontations.

On most days, extreme confrontation is not the norm. However, another issue that becomes a challenge is “to summons or not to summons.” Setting written policy is always best, but there are those exceptions that may not be covered in the overall guidelines. The practice I find most effective is to let my employees know that if they are in doubt, don’t sweat it out. It is OK to let a ticket go rather than issue a summons that was written in error. I find it is more beneficial to instruct my employees on methods of improving their good judgment than to suffer the wrath that may follow erroneously written tickets. Everyone makes mistakes, but we can all learn how to implement effective practices when we take the time to stop and think, put ourselves in the place of motorists, and then make educated decisions, for example. This is a very effective method when dealing with the issue of insufficient signage.

In Court
Meeting with the general public in court is where officers say they get the chance to present themselves in a different light, so to speak. This is the place where they are in a structured environment, and they have documentation and photographs to support their summonses. Not only does court allow them to prove their case, but also on a more positive note, they feel it gives them the opportunity to talk to the individual in a more reserved environment. Here, they can actually sit down with the person and discuss the options. The officer also has the court’s legal representation available for additional support and/or guidance. Another important factor is the good working relationship the officers have with the prosecutor. Observing proceedings lets me see there is a mutual respect between both parties that allows the process to work through quickly, efficiently, and favorably for all involved.

Our authority uses PATS, a real-time, automated ticketing system tied directly to the administrative office of the courts in Trenton. Officers’ training in the care and maintenance of their equipment is critical; they cannot work without it. Learning what their needs are for the proper upkeep during a day on the street was highly beneficial, and I learned about challenges such as batteries not recharging, data not downloading properly, printers skipping and not printing the summonses properly, and other miscellaneous malfunctions.

Normally, the officer would report these types of issues to the help desk. Stepping in and reaching out to the state from the director’s desk makes a difference in the response time in comparison to the help desk calls that are made by the PEOs. This is one approach to taking action in keeping our equipment up and running with less downtime.

Fort Lee’s northern location during the winter months only adds to the already challenging job of working out in the elements, not only with equipment freezing up at times, but because parking enforcement officers are also burdened with having to walk in the ice and snow and determining whether a person can get to the meter to pay or not because of the weather. I was pleased to find out my officers were not taking advantage of the situation by lessening their efforts but, on the contrary, were frustrated they could not do their jobs effectively.

In the past, they offered to work with our maintenance department to clear the snow from high-occupancy metered areas. Of course, bad-weather winter months result in fewer tickets, loss of revenue, and many unproductive workdays. Believe it or not, the officers are as concerned about the stability of the authority as I am and expressed their desire to do their part in the continuation of keeping our agency a vital part of the community.

Being out in the field learning about my agency’s operation from a parking enforcement officer’s perspective was an invaluable, enjoyable, and eye-opening experience. There is so much more to these employees than the public believes. They are sharp, eager to do a good job, work independently, and so appreciated the time I spent with them as they were happy to “train” me in the practices and manner in which they conduct themselves in their day-to-day work ethics. They educated me in many ways, not just in how they are able to follow policy set before them but also in the personal way they journey through their days and how they make decisions based on their integrity. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and enthusiastic parking enforcement team. Kudos to the FLPA crew!

GLORIA GALLO, CAPP, is executive director of the Fort Lee, N.J., Parking Authority. She can be reached at gloriag@fortleepa.org.

TPP-2016-06-Leaving the Desk

 

 

Passing the Baton

by Monica Tanksley tpp-2016-06-passing-the-baton_page_1

Raising the Next Generation of Parking and Transportation Leaders

HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED A TRACK AND FIELD RELAY RACE? As the lead runner on each team runs the first part of the race, the next runner gets prepared. The runner anxiously times his or her teammate’s arrival and begins running before the lead runner has overtaken him or her.

A relay race is won in the exchange of the baton. The runners must transfer the baton in an exchange zone; if they fail to make the exchange in this zone, the team is disqualified. The crucial moment arrives, and the lead runner surrenders the baton to the next runner. Even the smallest hesitation or miscalculation can cost the team the race.

The new generation of parking and transportation leaders is ready and waiting in the wings, and the parking and transportation baton has to be passed on to this generation. It’s inevitable. If we fail to pass on our resources and industry knowledge to the next generation’s up-and-coming men and women so they can run their leg of the race, they will be stranded at the starting block without a baton.

Passing It Along
We must develop, train, and mentor young parking professionals so they can develop, teach, and train other young men and women to succeed them from generation to generation. It is critical that we develop the next generation of parking and transportation leadership. If we lack the sensitivity, readiness, and willingness to train them and pass the baton, we fail to groom our future parking and transportation leaders. Gloating over our own accomplishments and not wanting to grandfather the next generation into the field because we fear this group might be more talented than us is failing to ensure successorship.

Mentoring is nothing more than a relationship through which one person empowers and equips another. Some important factors that may hinder the transfer of the parking and transportation baton are:

  • Poor mentoring procedures.
  • The lack of intentional mentoring.
  • Incorrect/wrong mentoring.

We may tend to lack proper mentoring methodologies and procedures, and that leads to a poor quality mentoring. Proper mentoring should be a prerequisite in development of our leaders-to-be. The parking and transportation industry has a great need for well-prepared, properly trained men and women to follow in our footsteps.

Intentional Mentoring
We may also tend to skip intentional mentoring—we lack a deliberate strategy to prepare our successors. We mentor informally without a purposeful and focused strategy plan to train our trainees. We train passively or occasionally from a distance, being casual, informal, and with a lack of supervision. We allow younger staffers to tag along with us and observe and learn on their own in the hopes they will pick up on accountability and reliability. As we all know, that doesn’t happen accidentally, so we need to change the way we teach on the job. We must mentor intensively with discipline, guidance, and coaching. We must manage our relationship while being focused and organized.

Good mentors produce good successors. When mentoring is unstructured and ineffective, our successors will not be well-prepared or secured. It’s imperative we invest in them. A good mentorship is intentional and intensive and provides the right environment for potential leaders to rise up to their own place of influence. Weak, casual, non-focused, or disorganized mentoring is damaging.

When passing the parking and transportation baton, we must be focused and goal-oriented. We must give our trainees a sense of direction and bearing as well as a directed vision and mission. There must be a plan, a strategy, and supervision. We must invest as well as instruct.

We also should be careful that as mentors we don’t have a short vision, an over-domineering spirit, or become too busy to find the proper time to train. As senior staff, we must pass the benefits of our experience on to our successors.

Determining our Legacy
Before we pass the baton, however we first must make sure there is a baton to pass on and that the baton is not dropped. How can one pass on a baton if it’s not there to pass, if there is no legacy or vision to pass on or leave behind? We must ask ourselves several vital questions to be sure the baton is passed:

  • Do I have a next man or woman in line?
  • Am I serious enough to prepare him or her?
  • Do I have a plan to develop him or her?
  • Am I willing to invest time in him or her?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, the baton will not be passed. We must know how to secure young men and women into the industry and propel them into their rightful places as leaders. There are several ways we can properly pass the parking and transportation baton successfully on to the next generation. We can give people proper apprenticeship training, provide the right climate for their development, empower them, and—most importantly— believe in them!

Parking and transportation’s future will be digital. Working digitally will require managing digitally. Parking and transportation apps will be routinely used in everyday business operations and in every aspect of running a parking and transportation organization, from leadership development and recruitment decisions, to wage and benefit incentives. It is for this reason we need to look for what I call altrocentric leaders to lead.

What is an altrocentric leader? In past generations, leaders were categorized as egocentric—they used power and formal authority to get the job done and commanded results. Altrocentric leaders, on the other hand, keep their egos in check and view themselves as part of a greater whole of the organization. They take satisfaction in their team members’ accomplishments and in being productive team players themselves. They understand the nature of their leadership role and have an empathetic ability to attract, retain, and motivate the diversified and highly independent workforce of the future. They are not the “do as I say and say as I do” leaders of the past. Altrocentric leaders possess emotional intelligence, self awareness, and self control. They have the influencing skills future leaders will need to thrive in the ever-changing and challenging parking and transportation organizations of the future.

Going digital will demand leaders who aren’t afraid to learn from their younger colleagues. Although technical skills will be a prerequisite in this digital era, how the potential leaders apply their skills and experience to influence and lead groups when it’s time to hand off the baton will be key to their success.

We must be able to see the potential in our up-andcoming leaders, tolerate their mistakes, be flexible in handling their failures, have patience when time and experience are needed, and encourage and build our co-workers up when they fall along the way.

As coaches, we should focus on our employees’ hidden potential and strengths, persistently urge them to anchor themselves, help set their direction, and provide motivation, skills, and applications that meet the upcoming challenges and tasks that lie ahead.

Building Confidence
Our basic functions as coaches should be to impart confidence, skills, and knowledge to the next generation. We should motivate them to bring out the best in themselves and model our principles and values. We should observe our leaders-to-be in action while evaluating them and giving them feedback. We must teach them to have patience and time, be accountable, and accept responsibility.

There are certain qualities, however, that we must expect from those in whom we are investing time and effort. We should demand a standard from our potential leaders. They must be focused and determined to push on and come up. They must be disciplined to rise to a position of influence; not being disciplined can result in a downfall.

Unfortunately, we can’t turn back the clock. We can’t start over. We can’t insulate the new generation from the effects of the supply and demand of parking and transportation needs not being met. We can, however, transfer our parking and transportation industry morals, wisdom, values, and etiquette to the next generation.

A good leader doesn’t pass the baton too soon. A great leader does not hold on to the baton too long. Learning how to pass the baton neither too soon nor too late is an art. It is an art that must be rehearsed because both the giver and the receiver need lots of practice!

MONICA TANKSLEY is special events manager at the University of Rochester. She can be reached at mgayton-tanksley@parking.rochester.edu.

TPP-2016-06-Passing the Baton