Technology can be a powerful ally and important lever in self-storage business performance. With an arsenal of tools available to extend operating hours, automate manual tasks and improve the customer experience, it's no wonder that many facility operators are executing a new technology strategy. However, not all team members may be on board at first. Some will resist new resources. Here’s why.
When implementing new technology, the unknown triggers fear. Often, it isn’t the tool itself employees dread but the disruption to their routine. Those who are proficient in current methods might wonder, “If I don’t catch on to this new system quickly, how will it reflect on me?” Long-time staff might worry the company will hire younger workers who better understand the new tools. All these questions lead to anxiety.
The storage industry has become much more competitive in recent years, and we all must operate at a higher level of efficiency to outperform the facility next door. At the end of the day, we’re striving for more rentals and greater cash flow. Technology is a bridge to this goal, but change can be scary to even the most seasoned self-storage managers. To reduce resistance and drive adoption, you need to minimize the mystery and communicate openly. Let’s discuss how to help staff adapt.
Explain the Benefits
Technology provides the information we need to streamline operation and improve performance. For example, consider the importance of response time when dealing with self-storage prospects. Customers don’t wait around if their messages go unanswered; they simply move on to the next facility on the list. Follow-up is crucial in converting inquiries to rentals. However, there’s almost no way for an owner to know if, when and how follow-ups are happening without technology.
Some owners believe they have a high lead-to-rental conversion rate, yet upon review, they learn their managers don’t report unconverted leads because they worry it’ll reflect poorly on their performance. When you introduce technology to track those metrics, employees will understandably be concerned; but consider everything you can now measure, including:
- How many leads the store received
- How often and quickly staff followed up on inquiries
- Which methods they used to follow up
- What was communicated during follow-up
- What percentage of leads converted to rentals
To alleviate staff concerns about being watched and “graded,” discuss the need for the new tools and how they’ll benefit your team, the business and customers. Help them see things through a new lens. In fact, technology will almost always make managers’ job easier and can often replace repetitive tasks they dislike, like making collection calls. Once they understand the logic behind your decision, they’ll be more invested in a successful implementation.
Managers need to understand that technology isn’t being used to spy on or replace them. Instead, it’s a force multiplier that’ll allow them to do their jobs faster and more efficiently. It’s essential to communicate with your team early and often on how technology is going to make their job easier.
Have a Plan
To succeed with new technology, adoption must come from the top down. Corporate needs to ensure everyone is on board, from c-level executives to district managers to facility staff. If the team isn't all “speaking the same language,” the chance of failure increases. To circumvent this, prepare for the learning curve in advance and communicate the plan to your team.
If an owner just buys new technology and leaves it to staff to figure out, he’ll almost certainly face resistance. Most implementation failures are due to lack of corporate buy-in and communication of priorities rather than lack of staff ability. There are no results without top-to-bottom adoption. Prepare for the transition and its perceived impact on the business and address potential gaps in service that may occur during implementation and ramp-up.
To guarantee easy adoption, make sure your technology provider offers staff training and guides. Check in at 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals to audit progress and identify roadblocks. These opportunities will keep all teams accountable and on a path toward success.
When choosing a technology partner, vet its customer support. Instant support is incredibly important. The provider should be just as involved in the implementation and training process as the facility owner. This kind of true partnership is what it takes to succeed.
Initiating new technology in your self-storage business doesn’t have to be a jarring experience for employees or customers. Communication, a solid implementation strategy and the right provider will ensure your team embraces the change and meets your business goals.
Holly Fiorello is the director of marketing for CallPotential and Next Door Self Storage. She’s also the immediate past-chair of the Self Storage Association Young Leaders Group. She specializes in marketing, technology and social media. For more information, call 877.552.2557; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.callpotential.com.