Staff Retreat Wrap-up

With our first ever staff in storage Retreat done and dusted it is clear that there is a definite demand for professional development and training opportunities for self storage employees. The positive reaction to this event has been overwhelming with delegates coming from right across Australia and New Zealand to enjoy two action packed days at the Melbourne Marriott Hotel.

Shirley McKinnon got day one started with a fun filled session about different personality types and why some people just don’t get on. Participants learnt a lot about themselves and how they interact and relate to others, and were encouraged to analyse how their organisation could benefit from harnessing each of the different personality types.

Delegates then broke into groups for Sitelink and StorMan software workshops where they learnt about changes to the platforms and how to get the most out of their existing system. Legal was the next topic on the agenda and attendees proved to have many relevant and important queries about the new standard self storage agreements released this year.

Day one concluded with a hands on video making exercise with Liam Driver from Video Lift. This session was proudly sponsored by Boxes by the Fox and began with an amazing promotional video Liam created for the company shot entirely on an iPhone. This gave attendees the impetus to realise just what they could do for their businesses without professional help and with basic technology. Liam showed delegates the tips and tricks to get the most out of smartphone video making, including framing, positioning, light and developing the idea from a concept stage to a storyboard and then a final product.

As part of the session delegates created their own short videos discussing what the strangest thing is they’ve seen put into storage and how storage has helped people in the community. The resulting video, which deals with storage in times of natural disaster, even brought a tear to our CEO’s eye! This video, along with one of the final session (with INXS lead singer Ciaran Gribben) and a blooper reel are available to view on the SSAAInsider Blog.

The Staff Retreat continued on into Thursday Evening with the regional dinner at Trunk Bar and Restaurant with a massive turnout of more than 80 attendees. The delectable 3 course menu, New York inspired décor and excellent service ensured everyone had a fantastic night. Some were so absorbed by their networking that they didn’t go to bed until 2am!

Luckily Day 2 started off with the breakfast with an expert session where everyone was able to eat a few too many hash browns and have a relaxed chat about topics such as:

Digital Marketing – Matthew Kippin (Reach Local)

Fine Tuning Your Operations – Shondra Hill (Storage Angel)

Legal Issues – Simone Hill (SSAA)

Payments & General Software Questions – Ben Williams (StorMan)

Portable Storage – Shay McQuade

Security – Ben Parsad (PTI)

Tips for Success in Self Storage – Temeike McLean (Storage King) & Susan Phillips (Charters Towers Self Storage)

Web Design and Search Engine Optimisation – Michael Dogger (Centreforce Technology Group)

The small group setting really helped people connect and ask questions relevant to their specific workplace or situation.

Doris Zagdanski from InvoCare kicked off the more formal sessions on Day 2 with a presentation about empathy and connecting with people on a higher level. Delegates were taught how to speak to customers about situations involving loss and grief, and that speaking with people about their feelings can significantly benefit sales: “People want to do business with those who get them”.

After morning tea Shondra Hill from Storage Angel got stuck into the operations side of things by discussing the importance of a clean and well maintained facility, obtaining contact details for every enquiry, good systems and procedures and risk management. With her many years of experience Shondra was able to impart her wisdom to staff about doing things correctly and some of the unfortunate consequences of not doing so.

Reach Local’s Matthew Kippin got delegates thinking in his session about how to turn negative reviews into an opportunity to promote their business online. Staff learnt how to best deal with disgruntled customers online, garner positive reviews, what to do about fake reviews and the importance of regularly monitoring sites such as yelp.

The afternoon of day 2 was all about inspiration and the 2014 SSAA Manager of the Year Temeike McLean gave an insightful interview about what it takes to thrive in the self storage industry as an employee. Temeike generously shared her upbringing, key moments in her personal and professional development and tips to succeed with staff, laying bare the incredible drive and determination she has for her work with Storage King. Perhaps one of the most interesting strategies Temeike described was when she took over a challenging facility and doorknocked local businesses in order to network and make connections that would benefit her facility and customers in the future. This is something that many others would not have done, and is just one of the many reasons why Temeike has been recognised by the industry.

The program concluded with a long-anticipated presentation by Ciaran Gribben former INXS frontman. He spoke of the challenges and trials he faced as a young boy growing up in Northern Island and how decades of hard work and perseverance finally led to his musical success. Despite being a Grammy nominated songwriter, having worked with artists such as Madonna, Snow Patrol and Paul McCartney, and becoming a member of one of his all-time favourite bands, Ciaran has maintained a sense of humility, strong work ethic and passion for what he does. He treated delegates to numerous songs created using a looping station, and even got 3 volunteers up on stage to form an impromptu band “The Potatoes”, and write and perform a song about self storage called “Self storage is the new rock and roll”.  The fantastic performance and hilariousness that ensued enabled the event to end on a high and delegates finished off the two day event with some drinks and canapés before heading home.

Due to the large number of attendees and great feedback we have already received we believe that there is significant support for running Staff Retreats in the future.

Thank you to all who helped make this event what it was including our fantastic sponsors Boxes by the Fox, Ezidebit, PTI Australaisa, Universal Storage Containers, Jetta and Wilson Parking, principal partners Visy Boxes and More, Steel Storage and USC, and industry presenters Ben Williams-StorMan, Michael Dogger-Centreforce IT, Shondra Hill-Storage Angel, and Temeike McLean-Storage King.

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