Operational Agility is the New Growth!
by Alissa Palmisano
Marketing and Communications Coordinator, CallPotential
As we’re encouraged by plans for re-opening the economy, we’re reminded of how quickly our processes and procedures have undergone extreme change. In the past two months especially we’ve seen a wave of tightening and loosening social distancing requirements and business closures. Not to mention that state-controlled reopening phases being implemented at any given time, making operating portfolios that span state lines an additional challenge.
Sometimes unpredictable and large-scale situations make it impossible for us to run operations as usual. For example, restricted access to physical buildings can challenge us to virtualize our core business functions. If anything, the pandemic has made us quickly realize that our standard operating procedures, though very effective in normal circumstances, needed to be adapted. The more agile we can be, the better we can address tenants’ needs and deliver a stable foundation for our managers.
These challenges remind us of the importance of keeping an open mind, staying flexible, and embracing change in our industry to spark new ideas and overcome these difficulties together. From our own monthly benchmark industry data, we’ve outlined a pattern in operational changes that are seemingly helpful in the transition to a virtual process.
Optimize your leads through multiple touchpoints
With less leads as a result of the pandemic’s impact, strategizing how to maximize your leads is so important. You have to hone in on the question “How can we best serve our customers?” and evaluate your accessibility. As new technology emerges, we continue to see traditional lead-tracking systems like a pen and paper slowly disappear from the industry.
By implementing omni-channel communication such as text, call, and email into your operations, you can create the perfect balance of a smooth follow-up process and an unmatched customer experience. Some might hear the word “automation” and shriek at the thought of replacing their staff or normal procedures - but it couldn’t be more opposite! Automation is purely a supplemental tool for your existing procedures. It can enhance and accelerate the lead-to-rental process, provide better customer service, and alleviate on-site staff from tedious follow-up. With less time making phone calls, you can shift your focus to meeting your customers' needs how and when they want, even with a customized tone.
Adapt your messaging according to the pandemic’s impact
In these uncertain times, most operators are changing their approach to collecting past-due rent. While remaining diligent and empathetic, changing the tone of your messaging, especially through omni-channel communication, can dramatically increase your payment rate.
An example of the messaging tone changes could be as follows; rather than a past-due text message template that might have previously read “URGENT: Your Rent is Now 45 Days Past Due. Please Pay Here.” it might read more as “Friendly Reminder: Your Rent is Now 45 Days Past Due. Please Pay Here.” Although a simple adjustment, leading with empathy during a pandemic can foster strong relationships with your tenants while maintaining an effective rent collection process with self-storage payment reminders.
Incentivize and encourage employee performance
On-site staff are the backbone of the industry. It’s important to offer ongoing training opportunities and incentivize their work to encourage motivation. Oftentimes employees are looking for new techniques to optimize their performance, learn new skills, and teach colleagues the same.
Making sure that you have a process that works as a checks and balances system is so important. Trackable incoming and outgoing calls can be used as a valuable assessment tool for good performance, and offer insight where more training is needed. With in-system call features programmed into your software, you can measure if, when and how calls are made to provide accountability and improve time management. Using technology with visibility into day-to-day tasks, managers can set realistic goals for the team to achieve.
Build strong operational foundations to empower your future
This is a challenging time for all of us. Embracing operational agility hasn’t been easy, but few things worth doing are. Our hope is that the pivots being made now — and the way they’re allowing us to better support managers, customers, and communities will help us to weather this pandemic and emerge stronger in the future. Yes, in the short term, much of what we’re doing may not immediately impact the bottom line, but the foundation we’re building upon will ensure we continue to drive sustainable growth in the long run and inspire more new ideas to come.