Automation Isn’t Everything: The Argument for Keeping Staff in Your Garage

It’s no secret that parking facilities are trending away from line employees. With the rise of automated payment systems and gateless garages, there’s little need for employees to man a booth that no one will use. However, this trend doesn’t mean that the human element needs to be completely removed from your parking operation—if applicable, we suggest that your staff fill different roles to ensure continued customer satisfaction.

Automation is important, but it’s not everything. Let’s explore why it is sometimes necessary to keep a human element in your parking facility.

1. No Abuse of Automation

For the most part, humans trust others. When we leave out a bowl of candy for Halloween, for example, we trust one person won’t scoop up the whole thing; when we automate certain functions in our parking garage, we trust that customers won’t take advantage of the system. This might not always be in our best interest, though.

While these people are certainly the exception to the rule, they still exist. And with that in mind, we suggest tasking a staff member who visits the garage regularly with checking automated systems, including payment options and the entrance and exit gates. By regularly checking that everything is in working order, you can ensure that no person tries to cheat the system by not paying, sharing a pass, or even installing a credit card skimmer. This proactive maintenance protects not only your business but also your customers and tenants from the consequences of someone’s bad behavior.

2. A Clean Garage Is a Functional Garage

The importance of cleanliness, especially in a parking garage, cannot be overstated. Cleanliness not only makes the garage look better but also contributes to feelings of safety and overall maintenance; it shows customers that staff are frequently supervising the garage in person and taking care of the space, even if they’re unseen.

That said, the garage should not just be cleaned; it should be cleaned well—this includes emptying trash and recycling receptacles as well as maintaining stairwells, amenities, and other items, like convex mirrors that help drivers navigate around tight corners. Given the nature of parking garages, including factors like weather and vehicle condition, it may not be realistic to maintain a spotless facility, but your staff should strive to be as close to it as possible, especially if they aren’t burdened with tasks that have been automated.

3. Daily Visits from Management

All other suggestions aside, we strongly recommend that at least one person physically visit your parking facility each day. Not every other day or every week—every single day. This may seem tedious, especially if your garage is far from your office, but personal involvement like this really makes a difference in how your facility operates. By actually being in the garage every single day, you are much more aware of what is going on as well as what issues need resolving. This is far better than a reactive approach, where you only fix problems when they are brought to your attention.

While it might not be an expectation of the job with automation in place, if your staff does need to interact with customers while in the garage, they should be friendly and have a positive attitude—answering questions fully when asked to, for example. Even if it’s just to say hello, every impression counts; above all else, you want to show your customers that your operation cares.

Penn Parking is the industry-leading parking management solution for the MD|DC|VA area. With over 35 years of experience and a passion for offering innovative solutions, we are the area’s best parking service provider. Contact us today for more information on keeping a human touch in your parking facility.