Parking and the impact on Growth

Parking should be considered as a part of the long-term strategy for growth, otherwise, it could inhibit your success.

I’m at an institution that is currently considering growing outside of its current market, which typically is confined to the western part of the state.  The eastern part of the state is a well known part to the world.  One strategy being strongly considered is to delve into markets outside of the state, so that we can have a larger footprint in the US and on cancer.  Another important fact is that we are located in the downtown area of the city.

This plan is solid to grow, but there has been a strong resistance to addressing the parking issue.  Our Facilities Department has been sharing the plans for about seven (7) years now that we are going to experience a parking crisis within the next year to two.  The proposal even includes building a garage with the location as well.  Since we experience harsh winters, building a garage could take upwards of two years, but this would solve the problem with parking.

I’m actually at a loss as to how to impact the Board and other leadership teammates to move parking into the level of importance as we would for certain medical equipment, etc.  It  is important to note that this has been presented to the Board several times, yet still no approvals were given to move ahead.  Any suggestions?


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Participant comments on Parking and the impact on Growth

  1. Parking is a hugely contentious issue and even minor changes to parking fees results in community uproar. Not being able to find a parking space at all is clearly far worse. I am wondering if you have clear data that can dramatically demonstrate the increased volume that anticipate. I would then encourage you to have individual meetings with influential board members and leadership to ensure that you have their support or their suggestions on what additional information is needed prior to the decisive meeting.

  2. Nothing will get a board or executive leadership to react than the voice of the customer. Perhaps put together an element of a parking survey into your patient satisfaction survey and monitor over time.

  3. I have dealt with a similar dilemma. One option is to rent parking spaces off site for employees and to shuttle them in. This creates some significant operating expenses, but it may also help get the attention of the board. Off site lots can also be much more cost effective if you can keep the scale small than building a parking ramp in the short run. My site leases 100 parking spaces 1.5 miles away for about $25k per year. We also offer a free shuttle every 8 minutes on a loop from the hospital to the lot and back during prime time hours at a cost of around $130k per year.

  4. My former CEO used to say at townhalls that he would answer questions on anything but parking. I never understood until I became a COO and now I am inundated with parking complaints. Several small things can be done, such as finding ways to encourage employees to take buses, shuttles (we provide convenient free shuttles to our main campus form other sites freeing up main campus parking spots). I have seen hospitals and others subsidize public transportation costs for employees to make it easier and have heard of one place that convinced the city to put in a direct bus line to their location. We are currently getting ready to build a new garage and I am trying to make sure that when we build it, it will have room for growth for several years after it opens, but this is not easy.

  5. Parking is always a hard sell to the management because there is little perceived financial benefit from building any kind of parking and it is always a large expense. I agree with Neil – what got our Board to make a decision on the parking issue was the inclusion of parking problems on our patient experience surveys. They were far and away our worst scores, so that presents an easy win for a management team to improve those scores, even though there is an expense associated. Once parking becomes associated more closely with the patient experience, it garners much more attention.

  6. I agree with above comments about direct association for parking with patient experience and their preferred health destination.
    now am managing a 300 beds cur with very nice and big parking plus staff accommodation is 2 minutes walk. So parking availability was always a strength factor and reason for patient satisfaction and a reason for envy from other competitors in town.
    Now am opening a new hospital in a close by city, the new hospital is also located in the city center, although it’s smaller in size, but it’s parking is too small, and no staff accommodation close by.
    We had lot of discussions last year regarding this point, and parking was a major concern to me to even reconsider the whole hospital start up idea.
    Many solutions we came up with and is under process.
    1- buying a land across the street from the hospital, to be an area for future parking needs.
    2- arranging shuttle bus services for our staff, so they don’t need to bring their cars.
    3- the current parking is assigned for patients only, as we don’t want to have it full of staff cars, which what is happening in other hospitals.
    4- providing free valet parking services to our patients, so they don’t need to cross the roads.
    5- looking for innovative parking ideas like automatic parking solution to fully utilize the space.

    Convincing the board about parking importance for second hospital, was not a difficult issue to me, as they know it’s value to our patients and bussiness in general through our first hospital experience.

  7. Parking is definitely a hot topic we see with our patients (mostly oncology) and being a city with unforgiving parking expenses means they are forced to rely on the resources the hospital offers. We’ve seen our clients address this for their patients in a number of different ways – both with validated parking (depending on care plan/level of care) as well as valet parking, which has been a significant stress reducer for both patients and families. We’ve also seen under utilization of free shuttles from public transportation hubs to the hospital. The Advisory Board has put out a couple of blog posts/articles on this and have recommended creating both employee/physician steering committees as well as patient advisory committees and reports to help drive the overall parking strategy. Another thing we’ve seen is working with complaints/grievances departments to share their data on parking, as it often comes up there as well. Finally, I’m not sure what your commuter population looks like, but one thing to also consider is keeping space for bike commuters as well so they have a safe place to lock-up – it can also be a way to encourage transportation that does not require a parking spot.

  8. Funding parking garages never seems like a great strategic investment for most Exec Management Teams / Boards. Unfortunately, access to hospital services where most patients arrive via car as opposed to public transportation is extremely important. Think creatively to attract private and/or public funding to construct your parking garage. Keep in mind that hospitals attempting to build a profit center out of parking often end up with challenged operations with poor patient & associate satisfaction. If you are big employer in your city, partner with a developer with experience in this venue that can assist with attracting public funding.

  9. In addition to several comments about including questions pertaining to parking as part of the patient satisfaction survey, I would recommend that your organization create a physician-led taskforce (or steering committee) with ownership over parking redesign. The taskforce may also include members of the facilities department, hospital volunteers and patients. It’s critical to set a timeline for the taskforce to present a plausible parking solution. Centering the parking issue around both patient and physician satisfaction will result in a high-impact outcome which will most definitely get the attention of the board.

  10. A few years ago a survey was sent to patients asking them to rank factors in their decision to choose one hospital over another. Selection criteria included quality of the medical staff, range of services provided, and local reputation. When the results were tabulated, access to free parking ranked number 1, and private rooms number 2. We often mislead ourselves that patients have the same opinions we do as to what is important for a hospital. It can be very difficult to convince management of the ROI of convenient and plentiful parking, but the lack of it certainly leads to loss of patients. I agree with suggestions to form steering committees comprised of all stakeholders especially patients to help lead the initiative. By giving patients a voice in the process, management is able to more clearly understand the impact of parking on patient satisfaction and retention.

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