Parking director talks about new process for SFA
Published: Sunday, February 26, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2012 09:02
Jane Wilcox is the first to admit that she is a "parking nerd," but her dedication to parking has helped SFA become the second-rated college in the state in terms of parking efficiency. Wilcox, who took over the role of parking director last January, said her focus is on learning the best practices in the industry and then applying them to SFA. "There are new process, procedures and devices that are being used every year," Wilcox said. "I seek these out so that I can use them here at SFA if I believe it will improve efficiency. Whether it is something simple like a cool design on a parking tag, instead of a sticker, or robotic parking in Germany, I am open to new innovations." Wilcox said the complaints she heard when she arrived at SFA were the same ones that she dealt with at the University of Texas, and UT San Antonio. "It's the same everywhere," she said. "People want to be able to park at the front door, and that just isn't going to happen. But what can happen is an enhancement of customer service." With that in mind, Wilcox began to make some changes to SFA's parking system — changes she said would give students something they have been missing: options. "When I walk into Best Buy, I don't want to be handed a laptop and told that is the only one I can buy," Wilcox said. "I want to see rows and rows of different laptops so that I can pick which one works best for me." Wilcox overhauled the department's website, making sure any information students might need is easily accessible, and she also created Facebook and Twitter pages for SFA parking. "We wanted to simplify things," Wilcox said. "My end goal is that students can do everything they need to do from their computers or their phones. I don't want them to be forced to come here to our office if they need something." Things like scratch-off passes, temporary parking and a new rules and regulations compilation have been implemented under Wilcox, but perhaps the biggest achievement is the new software in the student center parking garage. "That was something that was really dragging our customer service arrow down," Wilcox said. "If someone's card wouldn't swipe or if the gates malfunctioned, you would have a line of cars that are stuck waiting to get out. We wanted to put the human factor back into things a little bit." The new software allows Wilcox to monitor every aspect of the garage, so she is immediately notified if there is a problem. Additionally, the garage now accepts cash and tickets are paid on foot at a station in the garage, rather than in front of the exits. "That system costs $200,000 up front," Wilcox said. "But you can't put a price tag on customer service. Once people see that it works and students regain confidence in parking there, the system will pay for itself." Wilcox said the department does not operate at a profit level, and that even though there is an operating budget, parking is an expensive business. "Repairs, maintenance, construction, there are a lot of costs that go into everything," Wilcox said. "Just like with all these changes and improvements that are being made, there is a lot of hard work that goes into that; and this is by no means the Jane Wilcox show. I have an incredible group of people around me that put forth incredible effort. All I'm doing is bringing my experience and trying to change things for the better." Wilcox added that she liked it at SFA. We have "real trees."