Parking companies differentiate themselves from each other in a variety of ways, but one of the most effective is developing and maintaining strong client relationships. When a company does this well enough to improve contract retention rates by 5%, a study published by Business Week demonstrated that this translated to a boost in profits of 125%. Those managers who are successful at establishing themselves as trusted advisors play a key role in fostering positive relationships and retaining clients.
Relationships between managers and clients exist on three different levels: vendor, value added provider, and trusted advisor. Each level brings with it increased dependency, value and trust. Successful parking industry talent has figured out how to be a trusted advisor. For those of you just starting your parking careers or looking for a few ways to improve your skills, here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Communication Is Key
Every client has different preferences when it comes to day to day communications. Look for cues from your client and adapt to their needs. Do they prefer that you stop by the office, send them an email or something in between? The better you become at identifying and adapting to their needs, the happier they will be.
Another key point when communication is a priority is when something goes wrong. In these moments, don't hide behind email. Try to reach your client with the news of what happened before they hear it from someone else, and be prepared to explain how you're responding to the issue and answer questions.
Do you know the answers to the following questions for each of your parking locations?
—How many all day tickets do you sell on a daily basis?
—What is your missing ticket percentage?
—What is your monthly parker oversell percentage?
—How much overtime is your location using on average each month?
—When was the last rate survey performed for your location? Rate increases?
—What is currently on your location task list in terms of fixes and small improvements?
A key differentiator between trusted advisors and other relationship levels is whether you bring solutions to the table in an effort to improve client locations versus carrying out orders you have been given by them. If you don't know the answers to the above questions and many more, it will be difficult to be proactive in this way.
When you offer ideas and recommendations that are ultimately implemented successfully, you are very likely in the trusted advisor zone.
These are just a few suggestions to help you develop trusted advisor status. For more ideas, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss parking industry leadership development training programs. Or visit our blog.