A New Kind of Manager
Infinite Self Storage now recruits a different type of manager. “I need someone who can go out into the community and market our services and what we have to offer,” Lavery says. “I challenge my managers on their occupancy rates and then hold them accountable for results.”
Lavery’s team leaders spend anywhere from two to four weeks training new store managers. It’s a well-defined program that teaches a variety of skills including marketing and sales calls. Infinite’s managers all use Blackberries and have access to facility information via their home computers.
Infinite is currently testing two operational models: one manager running two stores, and one manager running three stores. The first model has been going strong since it began in November and has allowed Infinite to realize savings of approximately $35,000. The second model was initiated in February 2010, so it’s too early in the process to make a determination on gains.
Lavery indicated that one small downside to this model is the toll it can take on employee engagement. “Initially, our managers had a lot of resistance to this type of model and the technology that goes with it,” he says.
To engage managers, Infinite has offered a variety of incentives. The company hosts monthly contests and gives gifts for the best performing stores. Lavery prints a weekly report card and posts a competitive ranking to help his team stay on their toes. “We focus on fun and driving sales, and it’s working.”
With the kiosks now handling 35 percent of new sales, Lavery and his team have time to market their facilities in the community while attending to employee engagement. They also have time to think about what’s next.
Ideas range from automated accounts receivable to systems that use voicemails and e-mails to contact customers regarding their accounts. Lavery estimates 40 percent of his customers list an e-mail address as a method for contact. “It’s just another sign that people are embracing technology and prefer it,” he says.
Additionally, Lavery indicated that Infinite knows this technology template will work, and feels the company can experience success on the acquisition side of the business using this model. When implementing a model like this, Lavery recommends self-storage owners reach out to operators who are already embracing technology.
Infinite Self Storage is not only holding steadfast in a tough economy but experiencing growth and increased revenue. The company’s willingness to invest in technology and evolve its property-management model to meet customer demands has been very rewarding.
Mandy Welborn is the marketing manager for OpenTech Alliance Inc., maker of the INSOMNIAC line of self-storage kiosks. For more information, call 602.749.9370; e-mail email@example.com, visit www.opentechalliance.com.