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SkilCheck Hires New Mystery-Shopping Coordinator

SkilCheck Services Inc., a Lodi, Calif.-based mystery-shopping and training company, has hired a new mystery-shopping coordinator, Monique Mack. Mack is a veteran in the customer-service industry with sales and management experience.
 
Prior to joining SkilCheck, she spent several years as a sales-floor supervisor in a high-volume call center. Her main focus was to train and develop phone-sales representatives to provide positive customer interactions. She also has an extensive background in call monitoring and evaluation as well as training hundreds of phone representatives in customer-service, sales and account-retention skills.
 
As a highlight in her career, Mack was responsible for training and staffing the RSVP line for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inauguration galas in 2003 and 2006. She was also part of a team effort to coordinate and staff the donation line for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts during Monday night football in September 2005.
 
Mack specializes in boosting productivity and morale through individual coaching, team-building efforts and specialized training. For more information, visit www.skilcheck.com.

Police Investigate Break-In at Sioux Falls Self-Storage Facility

Police in Sioux Falls, S.D., are investigating a break-in at a local self-storage facility that likely occurred between Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Locks were cut off of 12 units. Police are attempting to track down the renters of those units to determine what might be missing.
 
Source: ArgusLeader.com, Owners of storage center report break-in, locks cut

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Book: Self Storage The Journey

Dean Brown, CEO of American Steel Buildings Inc. (ASB), has published a new book titled Self Storage The Journey, a detailed industry guide for people interested in getting started in the self-storage business. Available in paperback ($26) and PDF ($19) formats, the book includes information on industry history and present trends as well as predications for its future. The book has been two years in the making by Brown and ABS staff.

Based on phone conversations with many prospective customers over the years, Brown says few of them really know where to start in the business. He saw a need for a guide that would explain what to do and when to do it, as well as where to locate a new self-storage facility.

ASB has providing building systems to the self-storage industry for more than 17 years. Info: www.selfstoragebuildinginformation.com.

Unemployment Reaches 12.5 Million

The number of Americans without jobs hit an all-time high in February, reaching 12.5 million, the highest unemployment rate in 25 years.

Employers slashed 651,000 jobs in February, down from a revised loss of 655,000 jobs in January. December's loss was also revised higher to a loss of 681,000 jobs, a 59-year high for losses in one month, according to a government report.

The job losses were widespread, stemming from manufacturing and construction companies, as well as business and professional services firms all losing more than 100,000 workers.

Source:  CNN.com,  Unemployment Hits 25-Year High

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Great Management a Key to Great Employee Performance

Nearly every day we hear how we need more from our employees in tough economic times. We need them to have more control of expenses, better focus on efficiency, greater effort and more innovation. If you wait until times are tough to ask these things from your employees, you are already in trouble.

Great organizations insist on great things from their employees at all times—in strong or weak economies. Strong organizations invest in the right people who, on a daily basis, cut waste, spend wisely, hunt for opportunities and constantly make the company better. This isn’t by accident. These employees are well-chosen, coached and developed. In short, employees who are well-managed can become MaxPerformers.

MaxPerformers create opportunities out of daily events. They connect with customers and are passionate about their work.  MaxPerformers remind us of the truth in the statement: Our people are our profits.

Management is the key to a great performance. Successful self-storage owners know how to engage, inspire and connect with their employees. They know how to develop the ordinary employee into the MaxPerformer. The following five areas can help you create MaxPerformers in your organization.

Hire employees who exhibit the right talents for the right role. In today’s intellectual workplace, we know employees must think their way through the day. We also know thinking is unique to each of us and, therefore, not everyone is a good fit for every role. MaxPerformers are employees who work in areas that match their talents because it connects them intellectually to their work. They feel capable, confident and competent.

The key to achieving great performance, as described by Marcus Buckingham in First, Break All the Rules, is to ensure employees have the natural talents and are cast into roles that allow them to fully use their talents. Great cooks who work as warehouse supervisors will never be known for their (MaxPerformance) culinary genius. Great salesmen who work as accountants will never be known for their (MaxPerformance) selling prowess. Employees become MaxPerformers because they know their talents and work in roles that allow these talents to be fully developed.

Customize employees’ roles around their talents, interests and values. Average performers are bored with their work; MaxPerformers are excited about their work because they enjoy what they do. Successful managers learn all they can about their employees then build the employees’ roles to include tasks and responsibilities that both appeal to the employee and build organizational value.

The more the role is customized (sculpted) for the employee, the more emotionally connected (engaged) the employee becomes; this translates into dynamic performance. For example, an employee who also loves to teach and share information can be asked to coordinate and present new product education to employees and customers. Employees become MaxPerformers when they are connected emotionally to what they do.

Establish performance expectations so employees can own their performance.  MaxPerformers take full ownership for their performance and their impact. Owners encourage this process by clearly defining each employee’s performance expectations, including financial expectations, and allowing employee input in creating the plan to achieve the expectation. This activates an employee’s sense of performance ownership and moves the ordinary performer to a MaxPerformer.

Owners move ordinary employees to MaxPerformers by defining performance expectations and allowing employees to own the implementation plans.

Spend time with each employee to provide recurring performance feedback.  MaxPerformers want to constantly learn, improve and acquire new skills. Owners who provide constant performance feedback regularly provide instruction, coaching and skill guidance. They are always watching for teachable moments and use them to encourage great performance and redirect poor performance.

Employees who are given the regular opportunity to improve quickly become MaxPerformers; they welcome effective feedback and use it to increase their performance, contribution and impact.

Spend time with each employee talking about the future. Employees think about today; MaxPerformers plan for the future. Owners who spend time discussing the employee’s future—new directions, opportunities for growth and contribution—engage employees for the long term.

A career development discussion builds a strong relationship between the employee and owner because he shows interest in the long-term contribution and development of the employee. Average performers are kept in the dark; MaxPerformers have a clear vision of the future, a voice in its direction and the support from their employer to implement it.

Effective management is the key to developing average employees into MaxPerformers. Connect employees intellectually and emotionally to their work and workplace. Not only will they develop into MaxPerformers who build your workplace brand, but they will generate consistently extraordinary results.
 
Jay Forte is a speaker and consultant. His first book, Fire Up Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, was released in March. For more information call 401.338.3505; visit www.fireupyouremployees.com.  

Obama Turns Attention to Health Care

Now that his economic recovery plan is in action, President Obama has turned his attention to the nation's failing health care system.

The President summoned allies, skeptics and health care figures to the White House Thursday to discuss ideas for overhauling the nation's costly system. The U.S. system is the world's costliest and leaves an estimated 48 million people uninsured.

Although he has declared he wants health coverage for all Americans, the president suggested a willingness to compromise even if it means not fully meeting his goal.

Source:  MSNBC.com,  Obama Starts Big Push for Health Care Overhaul

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Excellence in Management Group Hires Human Resources Director

Excellence in Management Group Inc. a Lodi, Calif.-based property-management company, hired Benvinda Chaves as director of human resources. Chaves has 25 years of accounting and management experience, including 10 years as owner/operator of a farming business. She has previous property-management experience as well as an extensive background in bookkeeping, customer relations and human resources. To stay abreast of developments in her field, she has attended numerous educational seminars on employee relations and personnel-management courses.

EIM operates 26 self-storage properties in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada. For information call 877.346.4768, e-mail [email protected].

RS-SQL, Version 3.07

O’Neil Software has upgraded its records-management software. RS-SQL Version 3.07 includes new features such as: 

  • Event notification enables automated e-mail notifications to interested users when certain events occur within the software such as a work-order status change or Web order submission.
  • There is now greater flexibility in schedule invoicing so invoices to be generated automatically at a specific time and interval.
  • Invoices can now be drafted to confirm their accuracy before finalizing.
  • A default work-order priority ensures priority selection when users create a work order, pre-work and Web orders.
  • Invoices for storage and services can now be printed separately.
  • A new field has been added to the account grid, allowing users to enter up to 25 characters of text.
  • Users can now set up base or account prices to be applied at a future time.
  • Users can update the activity billing of a client, ensuring accurate payment for all services rendered.
  • RSWeb.Net’s new cart administrator allows a user administrator to manage the carts/checkout items of any number of specified users. Its new work-order notes field allows user to enter comments for bulk orders and work orders.

Info: www.oneilsoft.com

Online Payment and Management Solutions for Self-Storage

Are you straining to find ways to make more money? Looking to offer a higher standard of service and increase your site’s efficiency? Stop struggling and take charge of your self-storage business. It’s time to implement an online payment and management system.
 
Keeping up with the mind of the consumer is one of the challenges that will continually face any industry. As information technology advances and everything turns into an automated process, we have to ask, “What’s next?” The Internet has really opened the door to what is possible for self-storage owners and customers. This article examines the need for online services in the industry and outlines things to look for when making the decision to implement them.
 
The Need for a Web Interface
 
Over the years, there’s been a significant change in the consumer mindset, and it has to do with the availability of information. We’ve seen firsthand how things can change when customers are given instant information or response. Texting and e-mail are so popular because they’re immediate but don’t require parties to be directly available at the time of the conversation. If there’s a way for consumers to access what they need on their own time without involving someone else, they’re drawn to it.
 
We’ve all seen the increase in online purchases. Why wait to take advantage of e-commerce? Changing your business model to accommodate some form of instant access for customers and yourself should be your next step. Smart companies have realized that the faster they can get information to the consumer, the happier the customer is. Advances in technology that allow for virtually everything to be done with a mobile handset point to this fact. Whether you believe it or not, the future is “instant information,” and the Internet is the current medium.
 
One common concern is that online systems are not safe or secure. This is a myth that spreads across all forms of technology, and it comes from a lack of understanding of the system itself. The self-storage industry’s premium software providers would not be in business if their products were not secure. They recognize that security is the foundation and build their systems accordingly. There is no tolerance in today’s market for products that don’t live up to high security standards.
 
Some self-storage owners don’t believe customers will use an online payment system if they offer it. But if the facility owner is willing to put faith in a Web solution, why shouldn’t customers feel the same? The effectiveness of an online payment system has a great deal to do with how you set it up and present it to customers. If you don’t mention it to new tenants or on your voicemail, how are people going to hear about it?
 
It’s up to you to make sure tenants know the online payment system is there to make their lives easier. The great thing about it is, in their eyes, you are taking steps to make your facility better for them. What they don’t know is you’re also improving your bottom line by increasing your client base and decreasing the likelihood of delinquencies.
 
Offering an easier way for customers to pay will make them happier and decrease delinquencies. It will also create flexibility for your business and increase site productivity and efficiency by decreasing man hours needed to manage the facility.
 
On the revenue side, how many times have you wished you could make adjustments to your rental rates to accommodate changes in occupancy, but don’t have a way to analyze those rates accurately from a single location? Today’s most advanced online management software gives you instant access to all of your operational information. Embracing a Web solution is the way to take control of your business and make it the best it can be.
 
Online Solution: Web-Based vs. Web-Enabled
 
The partner you choose to provide your new solution is critical, so consider your options carefully. The industry’s software providers are approaching online payments and management in two ways.
 
The first uses centralized data that can be accessed from any computer with Internet access. I’ll refer to this as a Web-based system. In this system, your data is stored for a monthly fee on a server away from your facility. You do not have a hard copy of your data but access it via the Web. On the positive side, you never have to worry about backing up or storing data; on the other hand, if your Internet connection is slow or down, so is your business.
 
The other type of system is a Web-enabled system. In this case, the software provider uses copies of local data from each site, synchronizing that data automatically. Using this format, the data resides at both the corporate office and at the individual storage site, giving you control of the information at all times. With this system, there are no hosting fees, and you are not affected by the speed or accessibility of the Internet.
 
When weighing your online options, consider where your data will reside and how you will access it. Ask the provider where your data will be stored and what fees are involved.
 
Choosing Software
 
You also want to make sure your online solution has all of the features you want. The system should create less work for you, not more. At a minimum, the solution should allow customers to rent or reserve units, make payments and view their transaction history instantly. They should be able see available units in real time, and you should see updated activity in real time.
 
Choose your Web software based on what makes you comfortable. You have to feel good about the product before you can offer it to customers. Pick software that is easy to understand and gives you information quickly and effortlessly. This will translate into faster customer service and happy managers.
 
Consider tech support and the longevity of the software provider. These are important issues to address when upgrading to an online solution. A reputable company should readily provide you with references. Self-storage experience is also paramount.
 
You’d be surprised how easy it is to make the wrong software choice; the decision-making process is filled with pitfalls. In particular, it can be difficult to look past the high price of today’s advanced software, but consider how much your business is worth―and how much more it’s worth with the right online solution. Make an investment in software. It’s the backbone of your day-to-day business.
 
We have a clear path to the future as the Web opens ways for business owners to maximize their time and resources. If you’re not using some form of online system, it’s time to make a change. Find a company that is on the leading edge of technology and understands your business. The companies creating innovative products will take your self-storage operation to the next level.
 
Sean Cargo is a self-storage consultant and senior account representative for QuikStor Security and Software in Van Nuys, Calif. He specializes in using the latest technology to maximize site profitability and efficiency. To reach him, call 800.321.1987, ext. 228; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.quikstor.com.

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Self-Storage Get-Started Guide Released by American Steel Buildings CEO

Dean Brown, CEO of American Steel Buildings Inc. (ASB), has published a new book titled Self Storage The Journey, a detailed industry guide for people interested in getting started in the self-storage business. Available in paperback ($26) and PDF ($19) formats, the book includes information on industry history and present trends as well as predications for its future. The book has been two years in the making by Brown and ASB staff. 
 
Based on phone conversations with many prospective customers over the years, Brown says few of them really know where to start in the business. He saw a need for a guide that would explain what to do and when to do it, as well as where to locate a new self-storage facility.
 
ASB has providing building systems to the self-storage industry for more than 17 years.
 
For more information and to purchase the book, visit www.selfstoragebuildinginformation.com.