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.