Tag Archives: management

How’s Your Curbside Management Vocabulary?

Just a few years ago, “curbside management” wasn’t a thing–certainly not a thing anyone talked about. But today, it’s a very big thing, and a specialty many parking and mobility organizations are working to master. Making use of that valuable curbside real estate is a big challenge, and doing it effectively can make a city or campus move much more effectively.

One challenge is that everybody uses different words to describe different facets of curbside management, so having a conversation can be a little muddled. But IPMI’s Research & Innovation Task Force has come to the rescue, working to identify common terms, define them, and package them up into a handy resource for the industry–one that will make collaboration much easier.

The Curbside Management Glossary of Terms is part of the September issue of Parking & Mobility magazine. Use it as a resource, share it with your staff, and get everyone on the same page with the words they use. Your operation and customers will thank you.

The Mighty B17 and its Secret for Success: The Checklist

World War II bomber. Bomb bay doors open. B-17 Flying Fortress.By Matt Penney, CAPP

No one had seen anything like it. The B17 was immediately the new king of its class for large, propeller-driven aircraft. At its unveiling, a reporter dubbed it the “flying fortress” because of the numerous machine guns protruding in all directions from its fuselage. Boeing quickly adopted and trademarked the name and today, the B17 is widely recognized by its iconic shape and renowned for its decisive role in WWII.

This legendary aircraft didn’t have a great beginning. It would actually lose a competitive contract to arguably one of the most forgettable bombers of the era: the Douglas B-18 Bolo.  The B-17 had been outperforming the Bolo in every way and then, the prototype crashed.  The prototype was destroyed and the three crew were killed.

In came to light in the investigation that before takeoff, the (very experienced) test pilot had neglected to disengage the devices that locked the aircraft’s control surfaces while it was on the ground. With the locks in place, the pilot would have been unable to control the aircraft once in flight. Boeing’s solution for the future: a checklist. They determined that the aircraft had become too complex to attempt to manage without one. In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine a world without–let alone a flight without–a checklist.

I love checklists and had no idea of their origin until recently. I believe they help put people and organizations in the best possible situations for success. I see them everywhere–at a vacation theme park with the family, I watched teenagers methodically position themselves and walk through their checklist (with another great safety practice–pointing and calling) right before they launched people, including me, on a high-speed ride.

If you have a complicated or zero-fail task ahead of you, take the time to build a checklist. It is not a reflection of you or your team’s talent; it’s simply about making sure you don’t miss the small stuff.

As the world moves back to into a more active landscape, more pedestrians, buses, bicycles, automobiles, and the numerous forms of alternative transportation are going to be interacting again. It’s possible we might have fallen into some bad procedural habits during COVID. Dust off or update your checklist and put it back in play

Remember, even one of the most iconic aircraft in history would have never reached its legendary status without a checklist.

Matt Penney, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation services at Baylor University and an IPMI industry trainer.

Gibbs’ Rules and Rules to Live By

Chalk board with rules writtenBy Katherine Beaty

NCIS is a CBS series that is now on its 18th season. The main character is Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who is the leader of a team of special agents belonging to the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) Major Case Response Team. Gibbs, a former Marine, is a tough investigator and a highly skilled interrogator who relies on his gut instinct as much as evidence. His team of elite agents, based in Washington, D.C., solve criminal cases involving Marine and Navy personnel and their families, sometimes traveling the U.S.–or the world–to do it.

One of the hidden gems on this show that all fans talk about at some point when they meet is Gibbs’ Rules. Gibbs teaches his team members all these rules, which he feels they need to do their jobs. While I will not go into all 51 rules, I will share that seven of the rules directly concern lawyers, and rules 40 and above are not rules of everyday life, but are for emergencies.

This got me thinking–what is my code? What are the “rules” I live by? Here are just a few:

  • Never let the world change who you want to be.
  • Listen to and embrace music every day.
  • Trust but verify.
  • Put good out and good will come back.
  • Work hard, play hard.

What are some rules you live by?

Katherine Beaty is vice president, implementation, with TEZ Technology.

Leading Through Exhaustion

Young woman in office looking exhaustedBy Kathleen Federici, MEd

As I hear stories from others, a common theme is exhaustion. The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us in some way or another and unexpected and rapid changes have left some in a state of fatigue. Not only are we dealing with the effects of the pandemic, but life goes on and things we don’t necessarily want to happen can and do, often without warning.

The universe has met me where I am  and emailed me an unsolicited article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, written by Denise Magner titled Your Career: Leading Through Emotional Exhaustion. I laughed when I saw this in my inbox because I have never received any email from the Chronicle of Higher Education previously and the timing made me shake my head as I am working through a personal challenge at the moment.

The article describes that if a leader is stressed, he or she still must  motivate and raise morale. How can this be possible when they are feeling the opposite?

The Mayo Clinic defines emotional exhaustion as “when stress begins to accumulate from negative or challenging events in life that just keep coming.” A mishandled conversation due to stress or exhaustion between a manager and an employee can do a lot of long-term damage. It is important to understand how others process information before you begin a heavy conversation. Get to know their side of the story before taking action. Be gentle. Recognize that one or two bad days do not negate contributions as a whole. No leader wants to lose a valuable employee, especially currently.

It’s normal to be exhausted and at times struggle with how to lead. Advice that I took from this article is to take one day at a time and be relatable. Do your best to be approachable. And remember we are all going through stuff, some heavier than others, so be gentle and practice empathy as you lead.

Kathleen Federici, MEd, is IPMI’s director of professional development.

7 on 7

Two boys in football uniforms posing for the cameraBy Matt Penney, CAPP

With the close of the spring semester and the onset of summertime, there is a brief window for a sport called “7 on 7.” It’s a modified touch football game for high school students. There are no linemen, no running plays, and no rushing of the quarterback. Every play is a passing play. Some credit 7 on 7 with the rise of pass-happy college football offenses (now even seen in professional football).  It’s fast-paced and fun to watch.

The fan atmosphere is small and relaxed. So I find the best spot for my folding camping chair on the fringe of the field. It’s the last year my boy will get to play and I’m just trying to soak it all in. My son is more fortunate than he realizes–his coaches are both good coaches and good men. It’s a rare combination.

In these fast-paced games, there are no timeouts, no team huddles, and the players call their own plays. There isn’t time for lengthy explanations or the drawing up of movie-famed special plays. There is little opportunity for coaching interjections, but three distinct phrases are repetitive and noteworthy:

  • Focus:  Trash talk is a challenging distraction to ignore. This applies to athletes on a field or to adult staff in a parking lot. Focus–pay attention to the things that matter and execute those things without reacting or being distracted.
  • Next Play:  We all make mistakes. A blown coverage resulting in the opposing team scoring or a missed software detail resulting in a more public embarrassment. Next Play–getting lost in a fog about what could have been doesn’t change the past. Learn and stay in the game, look for opportunities in the next play.
  • Find a Way:  Tired, against the wall, don’t know how to get it done? Welcome to life. Find a Way–to overcome, to adapt, to rewrite the script. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even pretty.  All that is needed is a way to get the job done.

At some point the season will end and the cleats will get hung up. If these young men were listening, there were a couple of good nuggets of wisdom that would benefit them beyond the field they were playing on.

Matt Penney, CAPP, is director of transportation services at Baylor University and an IPMI trainer.

What’s Behind That Door?

Hallway of dark doors, one opened to lightBy Shawn Conrad, CAE

Here in the D.C. metro area, we’ve had many coaches who would be considered legendary: men and woman who enjoyed tremendous and sustained success through their careers. I’m often reminded of one who accumulated an unprecedented 20 state championships. Her string of success began when she opened a door to what she thought was the custodial room but was actually a storeroom filled with old sports equipment that had been out of sight, certainly out of mind, and not put to use in years. When she walked into this storage closet, an opportunity–field hockey sticks–literally fell onto her. The coach dusted off the equipment and parlayed it into an opportunity to add an additional out-of-the-classroom school activity to the schedule.

I’m not suggesting that you go digging through your storerooms or repurpose old, out-of date equipment. When I think about this coach, I think about who around us needs to be given new opportunities, offered the chance to take on additional responsibilities, be elevated in their position, and earn more for their efforts.

Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti was notorious for taking 30 minutes a day to close his door, clear his mind, and think. Taking time to clear one’s mind is important, but think what we could accomplish if we spent more time opening those proverbial doors for others in our organizations, and what championships might be in our future because we did.

Shawn Conrad, CAE, is IPMI’s CEO.

Listening to Your Customers

Man Listening holding his hand near his earBy Jeff Perkins

One of the real challenges for parking providers is getting input from customers on an ongoing basis. The highly transactional nature of parking doesn’t always lend itself to a good feedback loop. So, as a parking provider, how do you know how you are doing? Are you meeting the consumer’s needs, or are you failing? How do you get better if you don’t know what’s broken?

Fortunately, our company’s users are more than willing to share their feedback with us. And while it’s important to read the positive reviews, you actually get a lot more insight out of the negative ones.

We spend a lot of time reading our reviews and doing a lot of surveys with our users–fortunately, when people create an account, they provide their email address so we can survey them. The insights we get from this research then inform how we evolve our offering. For example, one constant complaint we used to get was that people did not want to download an app just to pay for parking one time. As a result of this feedback, we added the option of paying via a mobile web browser. It’s an excellent example of listening to your customers and building new options.

Doing market research is easier than ever. Tools such as SurveyMonkey make it simple to create online surveys and email them to people who may have parked in your locations. If you don’t have a customer database, Survey Monkey can even help you find the people you’re looking for to take the survey. Also, nothing beats face-to-face interactions. Spend some time out on the streets talking to the people who are parking. Ask them about their experience and what would make it better.

If you have questions on how to improve your parking program, start by listening to your customers. They will probably have the answers you are looking for.

Jeff Perkins is CMO and head of product at ParkMobile.

Managing a Team

Partnership of business concept. Group of businessperson. Customer support. Teamwork.By Natnael Jowhar, CAPP

As you know, the way a team is managed plays a huge role in how successful is members are. It does not matter which industry the team works in–the success of the project depends on how the leader is managing them.

In my 11 years working in the parking industry, I have had the opportunity to work for and with different personalities. No matter the location, the city, or the workplace, I have observed certain characteristics in leaders who went on to successfully complete multiple projects and be recognized for their efforts. On the other side of the coin, I have also seen shared characteristics in managers or team leads who lead to low morale and poor performance.

The characteristics in successful leaders are not difficult to decipher codes that only a few are privy to. Throughout my years, leaders who lead by example, involve members in projects, recognize members publicly for their achievements, and, most importantly, trust team members to perform tasks tend to see more success. Likewise, leaders who do not set expectations, who publicly demoralize team members, and who do not show trust through action will not see the same level of success as their opposite counterparts.

Natnael Jowhar, CAPP, is parking operations superintendent for the City of Hollywood, Fla

A Parking Lesson: Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes

Close-up teenager's retro style black and white tennis shoes, tattered, ripped, dirty, isolated on white backgroundBy Scott C. Bauman, CAPP

As a municipal parking manager, I often hear the following from residents; “There’s a car that’s always parked in front of my house. I want it gone. That’s MY parking space!”

The passion residents feel for the on-street public parking in front of their home can be deep and abiding. I have a better understanding of this now. Many residents incorrectly assume that the on-street parking directly in front of their home is either an extension of their property or that they have a fundamental entitlement to that space. When someone else repeatedly parks in front of their home and the homeowner looks out their window and sees that same car parked again and again, emotions can start flowing and tension builds. The homeowner often truly believes that the on-street space in front of their home is theirs, and other parkers are prohibited from using it.

Before recently, I’d receive these types of complaints and have the automatic response of, “The on-street parking directly in front of your residence is not your property. It’s public right-of-way owned and managed by the city, yada-yada-yada.” Citizens eventually come to comprehend this fact but always find it frustrating.

Awhile back, I gained a new perspective on this emotional issue. My neighbor started regularly parking his oversized, bright red, commercial plumbing van directly in front of my home. Every time I looked out my window, I saw that big stupid red van and got very irritated. While I didn’t contact my local city agency to complain (as I know better), I did speak with him and nicely suggest that a more appropriate place to park his van would be on his own property. I got lucky; he agreed and started parking it in his driveway. That’s when my perspective broadened.

The point of my story is two-fold. First, anyone–including a municipal parking manager–can become emotional over unfortunate parking situations. Second, I now have more compassion and empathy for my fellow citizens going through these types of stressors. The aphorism, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” is a valuable mindset when dealing with the emotional state and unique circumstances that can sometimes torment our valued customers.

Lesson learned. Lesson shared.

Scott C. Bauman, CAPP, is manager of parking and mobility services for the City of Aurora, Colo.

Giving Extra Grace While Keeping Your Staff Safe

By Vanessa Solesbee, CAPP

In a normal year, many mild-mannered, rational people go a bit crazy during the holidays. As evidenced by the countless news stories about pre-COVID stampedes and fist fights over that prime parking space, this time of year tends to bring out some of our less desirable characteristics.

For many, the added stress of the pandemic has begun to normalize, and not in a good way. We are all getting used to being in a constant state of anxiety and high alert—about our health, job security, our families, friends, and our communities. Many who work in customer service roles have participated in training after training about how to effectively negotiate difficult people, both before and during the pandemic. We’ve also recognized that people are just not themselves right now and that most people who act out just need a bit of extra grace or some time to cool down.

While this pandemic has provided all of us with an opportunity to develop or build upon our emotional intelligence skills, giving our patrons a little extra grace does not mean we should lose sight of our commitment to keeping those we employ and/or manage safe and supported.

Recently, one of my staff had an unfortunate experience with a community member well-known for expressing displeasure (not just about parking). This individual chased our town enforcement vehicle, making several unsafe maneuvers in traffic, yelling out the window until the employee pulled over. The individual then jumped out of his car and rushed the driver’s side door, yelling and waving his citation. The staff member handled the verbal altercation well and it resolved without escalation to the police department, however the community member then wrote a scathing email blaming the employee, me, and the town for a poor customer service interaction to our mayor, town trustees, local paper, and others.

Thankfully, the entire interaction (including the almost movie-like chase) was caught on our in-car camera. The staff member was equipped with a police department radio, and my employee and I did a full debrief immediately afterwards and he provided me with a written report. Our investment in the proper pre-incident security measures and post-incident protocols allowed me to provide a full and accurate account of the situation. It also allowed me to confidently and firmly stand up for my employee and state in a (very) public manner that this type of behavior would not be tolerated under any circumstances.

While this type of interaction is not new to anyone who has been working in parking (and transit) for any length of time, the situation was a good reminder that no matter what external factors the world throws our way (pandemic, wildfires, economic instability), making sure our frontline employees feel safe, protected, and supported should be priority one. Many of us have been trained that excellent customer service includes giving our patrons the benefit of the doubt every time (“the customer is always right!”), but this philosophy can also encourage an immediate imbalance in the power/relational dynamics of service provider and customer.

I have worked in a customer service type of position for the majority of my 18-year career and have learned I am better able to serve angry or disgruntled patrons if there is an understanding that a basic level of civility is required from both parties. While I may feel empowered by my role, experience, or privilege to lay down firm boundaries with those I serve, it is important that as a manager, I also work continuously to ensure my staff feels that same empowerment—not for the purpose of swinging toward the opposite end of the spectrum (“the customer is always out to get me”) but to confirm their value as employees in our organization and their value as human beings, worthy of feeling supported and protected each time they put on the uniform and head out the door.

Vanessa Solesbee, CAPP, is parking and transit manager and Estes Valley Resiliency Collaborative (EVRC) Administrator for the Town of Estes, Colo.