(May 4th, 2022) — Phoenix, AZ. OpenTech Alliance, the PropTech leader in the self storage industry, has helped Argus Professional Storage Management (APSM) meet owner demand for unmanned services and expand their management portfolio with INSOMNIAC Live! Remote Manager. The new service, implemented in September 2021, enables APSM to provide high-quality customer service to the ownership groups and customers they serve at significant cost savings.
Operating under the larger umbrella of Argus Self Storage Advisors since the mid-90s, APSM prides themselves on offering the best third-party management services. The proof behind their operating model is evident in their recent rapid expansion, as they’ve grown to 170 facilities largely through referrals, success stories, and industry contacts. “We aren’t trying to be the biggest, but we do try to be the best in terms of customer service, how we take care of our employees, and the services we offer — our goal is to provide as much quality as possible and customization to an ownership group as we can,” stated Marjii Middleton, Trainer for the Mountain Region at Argus Professional Storage Management.
This commitment drove their recent addition of Remote Manager to their suite of available services in the Mountain Region — an option Middleton believes makes them more competitive overall. “The decision to implement Remote Manager was driven by our ownership groups,” Middleton shared. “We’ve had a lot of requests for unmanned facilities, remote services and other technology at annexed facilities or those in rural areas. We had a busy summer despite the pandemic, acquiring facilities at a record level for us and expanding geographically — but without the staffing we typically have access to. As we scale quickly, Remote Manager cut down on travel and employee costs, and helped us meet the needs of the owners we serve.”
A longtime OpenTech customer, APSM has utilized other Live! Call Center services at the properties they manage for years. Middleton highlights the infrastructure and expertise the Live! Call Center brings to a service of this nature that many other vendors don’t have. “You aren’t starting from scratch with OpenTech — a lot of people that try to do remote manager themselves are not prepared for call center operations,” stated Middleton. OpenTech is already a full-service call center. They have all of the technology, the protocols, the customer service and voice-on-the-phone skills and patience, which is different than interacting with somebody in person. They are trained and prepared at an expert level, so you’re not trying to figure all of that out and can just concentrate on your sites.”
With use of the call center already in place, Middleton was able to onboard four sites for full-service remote management in just 1-2 weeks. Her new remote team faced a figurative trial by fire, starting services over Labor Day Weekend, notoriously one of the busiest the industry sees year-over-year. “They were fantastic, and prepared for the volume of calls. The onboarding they did was excellent — Teon and Valeria [Team Supervisors in the Live! call center] were meticulous before the launch. They ensured each Remote Manager was trained not only on the call center policies and protocols, but also involved me to ensure their managers were trained on APSM’s processes and how we run the facilities, not just how they’re used to doing things. They went over our processes, they went over our operations manual, they ensured all of their questions were answered so they could make sure their team was prepared. They allowed me to meet with the team, as many times as needed so that we were best prepared to launch from day one.”
Despite the taxing trial run, Middleton was impressed by the professionalism, patience and embodiment of the APSM brand promise Remote Managers display with their storage customers. “They represent our brand very well — their customer service skills are at a high level to begin with, but they take time with customers,” stated Middleton. “They are so patient, listening, probing and resolving challenges. They’re not distracted by a lot of different things that are happening in front of them. They’re strictly there to focus on the customer. We’ve improved the customer service at sites by staffing them with a Remote Manager.”
Already up and running at four sites, APSM anticipates leveraging the Remote Manager service at additional unmanned or annexed sites in the future and has begun exploring its implementation in other regions. Utilized in conjunction with regional Property Managers to handle minimal physical tasks, the hybrid staff model supported by Remote Manager helps APSM onboard new sites faster, expand operating hours, reduce collections and make more efficient use of resources. APSM estimates Remote Managers have collected $30,000 in payments at one site alone since September. “Remote Manager saves our staff so much time. They answer customer questions, process move-ins and outs, obtain credit cards for autopay, promote or suggest unit sizes and explain how to use the facility. Those tasks save our team so much time, and they are vital to operations. They’ve taken the lead at some facilities to help with collection calls for past-due accounts — it frees up our managers to focus on their other facilities or on other issues in their region. The notes for each account are clear and integrated with Sitelink so you don’t double up on collection calls, and ownership knows when the Remote Manager has handled something. There’s also a clear hand-off for new rentals or unit overlocks.”
For sites with minimal physical space, like boat and RV sites, APSM has seen even greater advantages from the service. “Do you remember the patience I mentioned earlier?” recalled Middleton. “I periodically review customer service calls, and one of our Remote Managers spent 20 minutes helping a customer figure out how to get his trailer into a parking space. If you can imagine: she had to know the site, know how the units were positioned and picture where that customer was based on his description to get him into that space. She provided an extra level of customer service that is unparalleled – just to secure that rental and make sure that customer was happy.”
From Middleton’s experience, Remote Manager brings benefits to every party involved. “I would definitely recommend the Remote Manager service for unmanned or hybrid facilities,” concludes Middleton. “From the customers’ perspective, you need that level of customer service for someone to call and speak to a live manager. From an operator’s perspective, it provides a lot of services you need to run a storage facility that don’t require a physical presence, and it reduces labor costs and overhead expenses associated with full-time employees. It is increasingly hard to get part-time employees as well. It eliminates those issues completely. And it still helps you operate at full capacity — whether that’s five days a week or seven, coverage isn’t a problem, and you can always extend your hours seasonally or if you get busier. As we continue to grow as a management company, we have a bigger option package to present to our owners to manage their facilities, and can more easily onboard and manage new sites across a wide region without hiring additional employees.”
To learn more about Live! Remote Manager or other call center services, contact us today.