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OpenTech is excited to announce the promotion of Bill Hoffman to the role of Chief Revenue Officer! In his new role as CRO, Bill will unite the customer-facing teams to deliver an improved customer and employee experience.
Following a 30+ year progressive career leading and leveraging teams of all sizes, Hoffman steps into the CRO role with a passion to drive the organization towards one goal — how OpenTech can best deliver success to its self storage partners. We sat down with Bill to learn why he’s passionate about self storage, how he hopes to enrich the customer experience for OpenTech’s partners, and the first steps he plans to take in his new role.
Why are you so passionate about serving customers?
Bill Hoffman: I’m going to sound really old. My dad owned gas stations in the seventies and eighties — when you had three guys run up to the car, wearing white outfits, pump your gas and wash windows and check your oil. And, in the end, my dad always shared with me what the dirty little secret was as well.
We want to sell them wiper blades, but we also want them to come back because they can go across the street. That’s the way I was raised. I was raised to believe that if you engage people, if you’re honest with them, if you’re transparent with them, if you have something of value for them, then those conversations are beneficial for everyone.
But our job isn’t done when we’re done selling. Our job isn’t done until our customers are successfully using the product. Now that’s easy at a gas station because you see them drive off. At OpenTech, in the self storage technology space, it’s not so easy.
My passion for our customers and my goal for my teams isn’t just to get them to sign up for one of our solutions. My passion, and where I find true purpose, is to congratulate them when they get their first rental on their first kiosk in the first 30 days — or whatever success looks like for each unique portfolio and product.
Only then do I feel like we’ve done a successful job selling them something that’s brought value to their operation.
In your four years with OpenTech, how have you built that philosophy into the teams you lead?
Bill Hoffman: By example is the best way I can share with you. Primarily through the language I use and through my actions every day. I love getting on calls with customers. My role will never be to sit in my office and watch — even though I may have a title I’m on the phones with these guys whenever we have a chance. I’m really involved when my team wants me to be involved. But ultimately, I hope they see two things in me:
Number one; I’m just curious to be quite honest. I’m genuinely curious about how people want to run their business and how we can help them find different ways to improve the things they do. Even if it doesn’t have anything to do with our products and services, I am just genuinely interested in our customers.
Hopefully that comes through because I’ve got a thousand questions. My team calls it Colombo-mode where you’re just asking the next question after the next question.
Number two; we train on it. They are probably sick of the repetition, but we have a method. I have all these little quips I used when I was a salesperson. It’s all designed to keep us on track towards our goal: uncovering information from our customers to make sure we can add value. That’s all we want to do. We are not in the business of trying to sell them something they don’t need.
When I listen to calls and coach my team, when we train twice a week and talk about the number of times we’ve engaged people, it probably feels pretty repetitive for them. But that’s just consistency. I’ve always needed consistency in my leaders to say, ‘Hey, we’re doing the right thing. And they’re doing it too.’
How have you engaged other teams at OpenTech to serve our self storage partners?
Cross communication is key. We work heavily with the Customer Success team, the Onboarding team, whoever we need to engage to ensure we deliver on our promises to our customers. For my teams, the biggest piece of the puzzle is ownership.
The Sales team owns the successful implementation and rollout of our products and services for our customers. And that’s not just turning on the power, like I said before. We don’t pass stuff over the fence to account management or a customer success team and the onboarding team. We own it as a collective. We own it as a group. I interact with those teams as much as my team, so they understand that I’m not part of a toss it over the fence environment. I’m part of a collaborative effort to support our self storage partners.
Your new role brings OpenTech’s customer success, technical support and onboarding teams under your purview. How has your experience prepared you to lead these teams?
Bill Hoffman: Because I’m curious, and because my parents instilled in me a strong work ethic, I’ve always been the guy that companies were willing to take a chance on. My first tech support manager role was 20 years ago. I was a sales manager at the time, and they said, ‘Hey, you want to try tech support?
I’ve always been technology-oriented. I’ve always been process-oriented. And I’ve always needed metrics and goals to be documented and held accountable to those. That combination makes for someone that can organize a department — the teams still must believe in you as a leader, but it provides that structure.
What are your main goals for the first 30, 60, 90 days in this new role?
Bill Hoffman: Anytime you take on a new challenge with new people, you get to learn. That’s what I’m most excited about. My wife has a tattoo on her wrist that says ‘learn and teach every day.’ And that’s really apropos. Because you can’t teach unless somebody has taught you something.
The most important thing you do today as a leader is listen. And you learn. And you don’t just impose your will on people. So, what do I look to do? What I don’t look to do is come in with a bunch of rules and changes except for — ‘Let’s define very clearly from day one that our job is to make sure, to the best of our ability, that every customer has an excellent experience when they engage with us, regardless of the person they engage.’ If we’re not all on the same page with that, none of the other challenges or opportunities or changes I could make, matter.
If we can’t agree that the single most important thing we do is help each and every person we engage have a great experience, then that will be the first thing we have to change. We need to engage. We can’t sit back and wait for our customers to contact us. We need to meet them where they are, wherever that is. I don’t have all the answers. But I believe together we’ll come up with some amazing answers to proactively engage our customers and show them we care.
What advantages do you feel operators have gained from your leadership in the time you’ve been with OpenTech?
Bill Hoffman: That’s going to be hard for me to answer. If I want to be anything, it’s the opposite of what I was in my twenties. I want to be a humble servant, I want to be a humble leader. None of the success our customers may have, or the success OpenTech has seen, has anything to do with me other than providing some structure for my team.
I like to joke that I’m the bumpers in the gutters in the bowling alley. I strive to give the team a great environment, give them structure, give them goals to achieve and celebrate those achievements. But I don’t know that I’ve done anything other than provide that structure.
One of the things that I do that hopefully has translated out to our customers is hold people accountable to being excellent. I hope that has translated out to our customers, and hope they see a difference, but in the end, it’s that individual that’s delivering that excellence.
Why do you want to continue your career in the self storage industry?
Bill Hoffman: I don’t think people recognize, when you’re a salesperson or a sales leader that’s passionate about serving, not selling things, you want to be really good at it. You want to add value. You can’t add value unless you understand their challenges. You can’t understand every challenge for every industry. I’ve always felt like I was chasing the understanding of what’s really important to leaders in the industries I’ve worked in.
After four years here, I think I have a pretty good idea of what’s important to operators in the self storage space. Now I have an opportunity to apply my mind at a higher level to find solutions for it.
And it’s an exciting space to be. The industry is consuming technology at a higher rate than they ever have before, and the industry is growing. And OpenTech continues to innovate to solve operator challenges. For the first time, I’ve come to a business where I can actually see myself retiring. (Now that’s a long way off, but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say that before.)
Is there anything else you’d like to share as you transition to this new role?
Bill Hoffman: Let’s be clear — one of the most important reasons I’m here is the people I work with. If I didn’t like the people I work with, if I didn’t think we had a common goal, if I didn’t think that they were committed to my approach to accountability — it wouldn’t work for me and it wouldn’t work for them.
As human beings, we want to believe that we’re doing right for our people. And we want to believe that our people are doing right for our customers. And I really, really believe that of my immediate team, and of the business as a whole. So is it always easy? No, it’s hard. We’re a small business with big goals. But I can’t imagine working with a better team that I would want to grow with.