When an industry is in growth mode, the emphasis is on increasing capacity, margins and market share. But when demand fades, the emphasis must turn to creating more efficient management processes and tools. This is where we are in the self-storage industry right now. Every owner is looking for ways to manage his business more efficiently, effectively and creatively without sacrificing quality.
This changing game means your managers are no longer just writing leases, taking payments, answering phone calls and sweeping out units. They need to be able to use all sorts of new management tools, including software, which is now more intricate and in-depth.
Many companies use lead-management systems to track and follow up on lead activity. Some use call centers and call-auditing services for ad tracking and call quality. Others have internal systems for tracking expenses and revenue. Still others are using Web-based lead-generation tools that need daily massaging. All these tools require being able to use software and Web tools to manage, understand and report on interactions.
This is just the beginning. In the years to come there will be more management tools arriving on the scene. Some will interact with each other seamlessly. Others will require standalone platforms. All will help store managers run a more efficient shop. The caveat is people will have to learn to use them.
How do you train managers to use new tools so they find success? First, you have to employ people who want to learn new things and adopt new and useful ways of doing them. Plus, you should hire people who want to work at making the business successful.
Before you invest time and money in training, ask yourself if your team meets these standards. Then ask each team member if he thinks he can meet them. Be prepared to replace a few people who are either unwilling or unable to answer an unqualified “yes” to this question.
Trainers should understand how to use the new tools effectively before teaching staff. You cannot just deliver a new management tool, give the employee a quick run-through and expect anything good to happen.
The next step is to identify each staff member’s individual learning style. People tend to fall into one of four main styles of learning: hear, see, do and read. People who learn from hearing only need to be told what to do before they understand the activity. People who learn from seeing and watching can observe an activity and duplicate it. People who learn from doing need to practice something a few times before they can repeat it. Readers can view a set of instructions and then do the activity.