Thousands of self-storage managers and owners routinely miss the opportunity to attend industry seminars due to travel costs and staffing logistics. But two industry veterans have finally devised a solution. The Self Storage Education Network (SSEN), to be launched this month, offers affordable Internet education on numerous topics. Further, it will give vendors a unique venue to quickly publicize their products and services.
“For years, we’ve been frustrated at the inability to provide widely accessible, ongoing education,” says Mel Holsinger of Professional Self Storage Management, who teamed with Jim Chiswell of Chiswell & Associates LLC to create SSEN. With more than 40 years of combined industry experience, the two worked with web-seminar experts and interviewed hundreds of industry professionals to craft the best “webinars” possible.
To view presentations, enrollees need only a computer with an Internet connection, speakers and a printer. “SSEN is extremely user-friendly,” says Holsinger. “Simply log on to www.selfstorageeducation.net, select the presentation you wish to view, follow the payment-option steps, download the program, print the handouts, launch the program, and learn. It’s similar to a tradeshow seminar—you’ll listen to the presenter and watch PowerPoint presentations and videos.” Students can even e-mail follow-up questions to their instructors.
The programs, conducted by experts in every field, are of different lengths and levels of complexity. For example, you might choose a simple, 15-minute self-help presentation on maintaining roll-up doors or an intricate legal talk about tenant-goods disposal. The cost for each topic varies and packages are available. The best part is the classes don’t involve any travel or prerequisites. “This is more self-paced, and you learn what you want to learn,” Holsinger says.
In addition to recorded presentations, plans call for live, interactive session in which students can actively participate. Several businesses have even expressed interest in having SSEN design company-specific training exclusively for their employees.
SSEN understands the challenges of coordinating multiple sites for an educational event. “I’ve had the experience of trying to conduct company-wide training for which I had to shut down my stores two hours early and pay for managers to travel to a single location. Sometimes I couldn’t even take teams from a particular region,” he says. “Now I’m going to be able to say, ‘At 3 p.m. on Sunday you’re going to attend a live meeting from your desk.’”
Holsinger is enthusiastic about another application of the webinar concept: Vendors will be able to quickly spread the news about new offerings, demonstrating their wares in sponsored video presentations. Rather than wait for a tradeshow or a magazine release, suppliers can reach potential customers any time via the network website.
Meet the Staff
Top names in the industry have been enlisted to serve as SSEN faculty. Additional staff will be announced at the network’s booth during the ISS Expo in Las Vegas, Feb. 28-March 3. Current members are:
- Ray Wilson, president of Self Storage Data Services and Charles R. Wilson & Associates, an industry-appraisal firm.
- Jeffrey Greenberger, a partner in Katz, Greenberger & Norton LLP, which specializes in self-storage law.
- Neal Gussis, a partner in Beacon Realty Capital, which provides mortgage brokerage to the self-storage industry.
- Chris McGrath, president of Capital Consultants, which manages several state self-storage associations across the Northeast.
SSEN has invited self-storage associations nationwide to join their Education Alliance. This partnership will allow SSEN to respond quickly to specific educational needs in a state or region. “Our technology platform allows us to have a new program on our website within 24 hours of it being recorded,” says Holsinger. “Participating association members will receive an immediate discount on of all presentations, and we’ll also waive the start-up administration fee.”
Holsinger and Chiswell have already reached out to many groups, offering discounts on SSEN programs. “The Educational Alliance encourages associations to take advantage of our training classes as a member benefit,” explains Chiswell. “We’ll also provide them with the names of nonmembers who enroll so they can follow up with them regarding membership. We’ll offer alliance participation to national SSA members as well.”
While Holsinger admits nothing can beat the in-person experience of a tradeshow that allows attendees to mingle with other professionals, he knows SSEN will fill an important void. “I would guess fewer than 10 percent of self-storage managers have ever attended a tradeshow because of travel challenges. This is a way to get a college education in storage without having to go to school. Our mission statement is, ‘Opening the door to education for everyone,’ and we’re already well on our way.”
For more information, call Holsinger at 520.320.9135 or Chiswell at 434.589.4446; visit www.selfstorageeducation.net.