Customer Spotlight: Matt Penney and the Psychology of Parking

Apr 27, 2017
Who knew that managing a parking operation could afford such insights into the human psyche?

Matt Penney, the Director of Parking and Transportation Services at Baylor University, describes his job as “a lesson in psychology.” He adds “it’s fascinating to watch how people respond to conflict. Customers, staff, and myself.”

Penney went to college to be a teacher and a coach, but in his first few years in education, he witnessed the harsh reality of winning and the coaching profession. “I watched them work hard and get fired,” Penney said, “and I decided that wasn’t the life for me.” Seeking stability, Penney began working in Waco’s public transit system. “It was a growing operation,” he said, explaining that he had the opportunity to grow alongside the business. He has fifteen years of experience in transportation, almost seven of those dealing specifically with parking. 

“In the past, parking and the bus system were separate. Now everyone is communicating. Even things like Uber and Zipcar – it all works together.”

His experience in both public transit and parking allow him to negotiate this communication with ease. 


In addition to communicating within the transportation system, Penney and his team work hard to ensure that their customers receive support. “One trend I’ve noticed in the parking industry is the desire to be more customer friendly,” Penney says, “… the desire to communicate with customers.” He and his staff use the tickets they issue to determine what techniques help their customers most effectively. In doing so, they make sure that their customers feel supported. “We get better every year.”

One of the ways that Penney implemented positive change was the decision to use NuPark. NuPark’s License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology catches most infractions and enables Penney’s staff to enforce policies more efficiently, which gives them time to create policies that help customers. “[LPR technology] puts us ahead of the curve,” Penney says, explaining that they operate their entire parking system of 11,000 spaces with a staff of only eight people. “Not many campuses can do that.”

Before NuPark, Baylor faced challenges while enforcing the basics of their parking operation. NuPark’s technology allows Penney’s team to focus on improving the minutia of their procedures, such as policing disability parking spaces. “We do what we’ve always done, but better, and on a larger scale,” Penney says. “We’re just expanding and improving the fringes, but our core is solid.” He is amazed by how much better they deal with the same situations now than in the past. “Things get quiet around here now,” he says. Penney’s team takes advantage of this break to implement techniques that ensure their customers receive the best possible support.

“Now, we’re very purposeful,” Penney says. “We aim to provide good access to campus with a friendly style.” By using his knowledge of human nature to determine how he can best help his customers, Penney uses the psychology of parking to everyone’s advantage. 

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Further Reading

Chapman parking enforcement vehicle in front of university sign
white truck scanning license plates in a surface parking lot
man in white shirt and black pants speaking to two ladies in white and orange clothes with men in the background talking with NuPark sign in the. back