4 Steps to Training Self-Storage Managers on New Management Tools
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
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Posted on: 02/11/2011



 

By Kevin Bledsoe

One of the biggest challenges self-storage owners face when working with their management teams is helping them understand how to use new management tools. Unfortunately, the desired outcome for using tools such as tracking spreadsheets, marketing pieces and operations guidelines rarely meets expectations. Usually, it’s not that managers are lacking ability, but a breakdown in the training or implementation process.

There are four important steps to successfully introducing a new management tool to your self-storage staff. First, identify the skill set needed by each manager to make the tool a success. Second, devise an implementation strategy. Third, plan a follow-up process. Finally, review the management tool after it’s been successfully implemented to determine effectiveness.

Identify the Manager’s Skills

The first part of introducing a new tool to managers is to identify the skill each needs to make the implementation successful. For example, you may ask them to track the property’s daily traffic in a predesigned Excel spreadsheet; but while some may be proficient in Excel, others may have limited knowledge.

The managers identified as potentially struggling with the implementation will be your starting point for the implementation strategy. Each manager has strengths and weaknesses, and working to identify where he might struggle will go a long way toward improving execution.

Devise a Strategy

Next, decide how you plan to introduce the new management tool. A new tool should always come with a set of instructions to walk any user through the process. Writing a thorough set of directions will eliminate phone calls and questions, and will reduce frustration on the managers’ end.

If you can’t travel to several properties prior to the day of implementation, send your managers the tool and instructions and conduct a conference call to go over it. Go through a tutorial, answer questions, and identify other managers who can help with the training process. The goal at the end of the day is to create a seamless training process that efficiently and effectively moves each manager toward your vision for the management tool.

Finally, now that you’ve identified the managers who may struggle, sit down with them one on one. Show them how to use the tool and allow them to ask questions, take notes, and practice use of the tool. Make sure each manager feels comfortable with the program.

Follow Up

You need an effective and consistent follow-up process to ensure proper use of the management tool. Initially, you may ask each manager to send weekly updates of the reporting, marketing strategy, sales process or operations goal. Once you’re able to identify proper implementation, you may want to reduce the reporting period to bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Here’s a good example: Ask your management team to use the lead follow-up tool included in your management software. They should collect enough information about any customer who calls or walks through the door to inquire about self-storage to allow for an effective follow-up if the customer doesn’t rent immediately. Create written instructions on use of the tool, and train managers how to use it at one of your sales meetings. You should then review the leads collected in your quarterly audit process.

Also, tell your team why you feel the tool is so important, and let them know there will be consistent follow-up and goals set for this tool. Without follow-up, a management tool may not be used to its full potential.

Conduct a Review

Finally, review your management tools and methods on a routine basis. If a tool has become ineffective or isn’t being regularly reviewed, eliminate it. The most important thing you can do to help your staff is reduce their workload so they can focus on improving the property’s income. Keep the day-to-day operations and tools as simple and focused as possible. You’ll find your entire organization will be much happier and more effective.

Training managers to use a new management tool is a process that can be extremely difficult and frustrating when the outcome isn’t as you envisioned. Having a step-by-step strategy in place for implementation makes everybody’s life much easier. By using a few simple rules like those outlined above will improve your success rate immediately.

Implementing new tools is important and necessary to the growth of any organization. At times, we could all do a better job of making the training process easier for our management team. Hopefully, a few of the recommendations above will lead to an improved and more successful training method for your self-storage business.

Kevin Bledsoe is a district manager of Storage Asset Management Inc. Based in York, Pa., the company provides full-service management, consulting, and website development services to self-storage owners on the East Coast. For more information call 717.779.0044.