Parking Lot Principles

March 8th, 2007   •   15 comments   

I was piqued by this recent post on Seth Godin’s blog which spoke about how a bank manager parked at the most convenient lot available right in front. An excerpt from it below:

“The manager of the Chase bank in Pleasantville parks right out front. Her branch is on a quiet street with parking meters available for customers to use. Figure there’s perhaps a dozen spaces convenient enough to make it worth going to the bank… if they’re full, keep on driving, because there’s always another bank coming up soon.”

This reminded me of exactly the same frustration which many of us face.
Visit any commercial or office building and you will see that the reserved or permanent lots for staff are always at the first few levels. At a certain building at Shenton Way, I remembered driving all the way up to level 5 or 6 before I could park! The rest were all in red and clearly demarcated for staff. Naturally, the CEO and Chairman lots were the closest to the door and lift, complete with their license plate numbers gloriously emblazoned on the ground for all to see.

Why not put the hourly parking lots nearest to the carpark entrance? After all, these are the ones used most frequently by our customers who need to scoot in and scoot out quickly. Let’s then position those red reserved “I-work-here-so-I-am-almighty” ones way up at the upper levels (or lower levels for those with multiple basements).

I am sure the extra minutes taken to walk or take the lift to their offices won’t hurt. Maybe it will even improve your health and well-being?

More importantly, your customers will end up appreciating you more for it.

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  1. posted on Mar 08, 2007 at 10:23 AM


    “Blasphemy! But we can’t afford to have our C-level executives waste those extra precious seconds walking from car to lift and up to their offices… what if they break out a sweat? Or miss out on a multi-million dollar deal?”

    Said the arse-kissers.

  2. Lam Chun See
    posted on Mar 09, 2007 at 2:38 AM

    Walter, what u said is so true. But in govt depts it is no different.

    I remember in 1985 when Spore went thru a recession and we had pay cuts and reduction in benefits. One of the first things they did in NPB was to remove our parking lots at Cuppage Centre. We had to search for our own parking in Emerald Hill and walk to office. But of course the directors got to keep their parking lots. When I questioned this, my boss said; “This is one of the perks”.

    So you can see why in Spore, the big bosses always get the choicest parking lots – it is a status symbol.

  3. Lam Chun See
    posted on Mar 09, 2007 at 2:46 AM

    Even as late as 1992, when as a trainer/consultant, we needed to drive into CBD to meet clients and conduct training, we need to get the approval, not from our dept heads but from our Executive Director himself, EVERY TIME!

    Of course yours truly questioned the ‘unproductiveness’ of this practice, and suggested a blanket approval for the duration of my project. But our ED refused to yield, but did not give a satisfactory explanation. You speculate on the reason for yourself.

  4. posted on Mar 09, 2007 at 6:37 AM

    And what of the executive toilet? Senior management butts more important to an organisation than those from lower level staff? C-levels afraid of their staff peeking over towards their urinal?

    I think one of the greatest examples of creating and changing staff perception came from Toyota.

    In 1986 it hired laid-off GM workers to staff a plant in California. A union leader commented recalling company executives and plant bosses eating in the same cafeteria as the rank and file, which never happened when GM was running the factory.

    Can you imagine what the positive spin-offs on staff morale was?

    Sometimes management needs to know that there are some things money just can’t buy. Being seen on equal ground as your CEO? Priceless.

    You can find the Toyota story here in

  5. posted on Mar 09, 2007 at 3:18 AM


    Well, I guess its all about identifying who our most important stakeholder is. Who is the REAL boss? The CEO or the Customer? Hmm… sounds like an interesting topic for the next post.

  6. posted on Mar 09, 2007 at 3:22 AM

    chun see,

    I never knew that NPB was like that during the old days. Perhaps it could be linked to the need to be frugal when spending taxpayer’s money? As for executive and senior management privileges, well, I think the playing field is getting a lot more level nowadays.

  7. posted on Mar 09, 2007 at 10:51 AM


    Thanks for sharing the story. I have always admired Toyota as a company and they are one of the few which have managed to reinvent themselves to stay relevant and afloat. What is interesting is that even though GM is pretty active in the blogging scene, with its big boss Bob Lutz blogging, the perceptions are still that they are a pretty antiquated outfit compared to Toyota.

    I know what you mean about the staff morale thingy and how bosses who are on the frontline makes a difference. Just look at how some of the General Managers of hotels serve customers at the Front Office during peak periods, or how senior chaps at Takashimaya help in wrapping Christmas presents during the year-end peak! Its like having your general next to you fighting alongside during the war.

    A nice ideal but is it that easily achievable?

  8. posted on Mar 10, 2007 at 8:36 AM

    hmmm…. Walter,
    You’re getting a little touchy nowadays. Hope you are not influenced by Victor. hehehe….

    This carpark thing doesn’t affect me because I don’t drive. But I agree that many CEOs and MDs do not know who are their bosses.

  9. posted on Mar 10, 2007 at 1:36 PM

    I think it is a sound idea to reserve the most convenient parking lot for the customers, and to have hourly parking lots nearest to the carpark entrance.

    I don’t drive, but I think not having a convenient parking lot is just like seeing a long queue. I can always go to another shop further down then to wait. Convenience matters.

  10. posted on Mar 10, 2007 at 7:04 PM

    think there is only one organisation that makes the staff parks elsewhere…Alexandra Hospital.

    The CEO gave a talk to us some years back and said all doctors and staff have to park further away from the main door as the privilege carparks are for ‘customers’…

    Now that I respect.. 🙂

  11. posted on Mar 11, 2007 at 12:15 AM


    Hmmm…. maybe I am getting a little midlife crisis. He he…. Well, I believe at least here in cyberspace that I can write down my dreams and ideals of how one should treat one’s customers, and how one can “remarkablize” one’s business. With the state of competition as it is, I really don’t think its that difficult if one tries.

  12. posted on Mar 11, 2007 at 12:17 AM


    Exactly! We can vote with our feet if a business doesn’t want to get cosy with us. After all, the choices are aplenty out there.

  13. posted on Mar 11, 2007 at 12:18 AM


    Aaahhh…. That’s the answer I was looking for in my blog originally…. Thanks for sharing this gem with us! I am not sure though if that alone is enough to make me want to be warded there if (touch wood) I get inflicted with something.

  14. posted on Mar 12, 2007 at 5:07 AM

    Hi Walter,

    It’s not a matter of it being easily achievable. If it was easy, then little effort is needed in the first place and there would be no positive impact whatsoever.

    The issue is that the rank-and-file needs to know that their big boss on top can IDENTIFY with them.

    Having your general inspect the troops on the parade square is one thing. Having him visit your foxhole in the middle of night to ask you how you’re doing, now that’s priceless.

    Is it easy? No. Is it impactful? Definitely.

  15. posted on Oct 24, 2013 at 6:54 AM

    This is a situation which many of us face in our life. Parking is becoming problem of almost every city because vehicles are increasing in great number.Amazing post.

    Keep Posting
    Parking lot management

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