Messenger Xtra: Unleash the Power of Your Storage Manager
By Michael Sawyer
What is the most underutilized asset at your storage facility? If the headline has piqued your interest, it’s likely that it is your manager onsite. Workplace research validates that front-line managers have the most significant impact on customers, representing the most powerful advocate of your business brand. Whether you are a manager, or owner leading the charge, additional strategies can be used to accomplish a number of improvements.
What is your manager’s primary function?
Many companies practice a business model that is task driven, emphasizing 10-20 duties that need to be carried out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Those models often fall short on expectations, because they do not prioritize what matters most.
Improving sales, service, organization, and maintenance represent priorities in the self-storage marketplace. Once identified, managers need to be made aware of what task is foremost and how they will be measured on performance. If your priority is growth driven, find out how your manager actually competes for more customers and evaluate how it’s working.
To succeed in any attempt at improvement, owners and managers should reshape the assumptions that guide their opinions. Be open to changing traditional logic on the sales & service process to transform. Don’t be afraid to move away from; “This is the way we’ve always done it here.”
Tell Me Where it Hurts – Top Self-Storage Pain Points
While sales continue to be the top pain point, it may be dropping. Based on statistics from the SSA Self-Storage Industry Fact Sheet, average occupancy rates are currently at 87%. However, concerns over labor costs and insurance exist, as owners are unsure how health care legislation will affect their businesses.
Time management represents a universal pain point for managers. Between sales, customer service, operations, upkeep, marketing and more, it is not surprising that the day-to-day tasks take precedent, while priorities move to the bottom of the to-do list.
Customer Behaviors You Can’t Afford to Ignore
Because of technology, customers have changed their purchasing behaviors, and have taken more control of the sales and service cycle. Customers expect to be able to reach your facility, be it onsite, website, or the over the phone when in need. To profit from this situation, managers have the opportunity to change processes to match the behaviors of more consumers.
Can the use of self-service improve manager performance, facility performance, customer satisfaction?
Yes, customers undoubtedly favor a self-service solution in lieu of no service. There are a number of solutions that are proven to increase NOI, property value and in turn, enhance the value managers provide.
Managers Tools of the Trade
Recently, the MiniStorageMessenger highlighted an article titled; The Managers Technology — Tools Every Facility Should be Using Now. Industry owner, operator & Ambassador Anne Ballard writes about technologies that help managers compete for more customers and improve operations.
In June, OpenTech Alliance published a whitepaper examining use of self-storage tools. The 2014 Self Service Technology White Paper can be downloaded by clicking here.
“OpenTech executives aren’t crunching all this data to publish a “how-to” book on successful storage management. The point is to provide facts so that owners and site managers can understand what tools are available and how they add value to a self-storage operation,” said Yvette Apodaca, Marketing Manager at SiteLink.
Self-Service Process + Traditional Self-Storage Process = Increased Performance
To function more effectively, managers have to be able to prioritize and replace less important tasks with more important ones. Monitoring move-in and payment transactions that occur outside of office hours provides a look at tenant behaviors and the added revenue that may have been lost without offering an automated solution.
“Our mission-critical technologies (kiosk, call center & online rental software) need to be running all hours of the day, every day. It’s how we win business from others who are not doing the same,” says John Leslie, President at Avon Self-storage.
Technologies help managers help themselves by providing the ability to cover routine tasks like payment processing, appointment setting and reservations, thereby freeing up managers to focus on priorities. In the end, a self-service business channel can be a powerful means by which to serve the customer and increase the performance of your manager.
Michael Sawyer is the Director of Marketing at OpenTech Alliance based in Phoenix, Arizona.