Member Profile: Charters Towers Self Storage

Some months ago I visited Cairns for StorMan Training and, while there, attended the Self Storage Association of Australasia’s (SSAA’s) Regional Dinner Meeting. Our guest speaker for the evening was Susan Phillips, owner of Charters Towers Self Storage, who took us on a journey of the construction of her self storage facility in Charters Towers.

Charters Towers is a city located in northern Queensland, Australia and is approximately 135 kilometres (83 miles) inland from Townsville on the Flinders Highway. With around 10,000 people, many thought that it was not necessary to build a self storage facility in an area where everyone has plenty of space and a shed or two on their large block of land… and yet Susan’s self storage facility has been filled to capacity numerous times in its history.

During the Cairns Regional Dinner Meeting, Susan showed us photos of the facility’s construction and shared a story or two about battling to market & sell self storage in an area that thought it didn’t need it. Susan also explained how her membership to the SSAA helped her meet industry experts in construction, self storage management software (such as StorMan), etc – as well as meet with others to chat about their experiences with starting out in the self storage industry for the first time.

Like many others on the night, I was fascinated to hear Susan’s story – so I thought I’d take the time to contact Susan recently, so that she could tell us her story again – this time for everyone to hear (and see). To hear Susan’s “Charters Towers Story”, just click the video below to start playing… (photos are also included as part of the recording). Enjoy!

To see the video CLICK HERE.

By Andy – Storman

Customer Service Relationships

Providing great service is all about developing a relationship with your customers. It’s about treating your customers as though they are your partners at work. It’s about getting them to fall in love with you so they don’t want to go anywhere else.

A relationship is about two people relying on each other and supporting each other to help them reach their goals. It’s about having a bond and rapport. I think these words describe the sort of relationships we should have with our customers.

Where is your relationship at?
So how would you describe the relationships you have with your customers? There are 5 stages to a long-term relationship.

  • Acquaintances – Met once or twice but don’t know each other
  • Friends – The ‘getting to know you’ stage
  • Dating – Starting to form a relationship but early days
  • Engaged – Getting ready to commit
  • Married – Committed with long-term prospects

Statistics tell us that dealing with an existing customer is 6 times easier than dealing with a new one so it only makes sense to ‘get married’ to as many customers as you can. Life on the customer dating ‘merry go round’ might seem exciting but it does get tiring after a while! The idea is to have customers at all stages of the relationship cycle because you never know when you might get dumped!

Healthy relationships
Ok, so you don’t want to get dumped. So what is it you need to do to ensure your customer relationships are healthy? There are 4 key areas to look at:

Both parties feel valued and their needs are met

A good relationship isn’t a one way street, there needs to be some balance. It doesn’t work if you take their money but don’t deliver, and equally you don’t want them to take your services without paying. Also, watch out for being too desperate or clingy…it drives customers away.

Show how you feel
Let them know you appreciate their business by sending them a card, a small gift or samples of your products. Don’t take it for granted that they know you value them. Like other relationships, it’s often only when the other party is about to leave that we tell them how important they are. Unfortunately by then, the damage is already done.

Open communication
A customer-supplier relationship needs open channels of communication to ensure that little things are resolved before they turn into big issues. Make sure you listen, give and receive feedback regularly and generally keep them informed.

Spend time together
Like all relationships, getting to know your customers involves spending time with them. Don’t just communicate by email or letter. Get out of the office and visit them, buy them a coffee, have a tour of their business. Spend time getting to know their needs and you will have a customer for life. The relationship you have with your customers will make the difference between outstanding success and mediocre performance.

Karen Schmidt
Karen Schmidt is an award-winning professional speaker, workshop leader and author who creates fresh workplace attitudes that help people and organisations grow –

Day 3 of the SSAA 2015 Owners and Managers Summit

It was an early start on day three of the summit with many delegates attending the Sunrise Tour. Despite the cold it was amazing to watch Uluru change colour as the stars disappeared. Delegates were then taken on brief walk around a the base of Uluru to a dry waterhole and a cave. Decorated with rock paintings the cave was used as a classroom of sorts by the local people where the younger men to hunt and survive. The tour was a fantastic way for people to get up close and personal with the rock and connect with other members in a more adventurous setting.

cave painting

The first session of the morning began with a talk on succession planning from Craig West who believes that the biggest mistake business owners can make is leaving their succession planning too late. Next up was Brigid Maher from Baker McKenzie speaking about the pitfalls of social media and the employer’s rights when it comes to staff posting comments detrimental to the business. This was followed by an insightful presentation by Paul Darden who brings an American perspective to the concept of discounting, and the impact it can have on the bottom line.

After a tasty lunch of sandwiches and our last Trade Show session for the event delegates heard from Keith Edwards, Frederic de Ryckman de Betz and Sam Kennard on the business culture panel. They spoke on the importance of creating a good culture in amongst your staff and how this benefits customer service, profit, brand and the overall business. One of the most anticipated speeches of the summit was delivered by Nigel Brennan on ‘the price of life’ Nigel spoke with integrity and humility about the strength he need to survive and his will to live.

CEO Simone Hill then wrapped up the educational conference by introducing our conference venue for next year. See you at the Park Hyatt Melbourne on 30/08-01/09 2016!

More about the 2015 SSAA Awards for Excellence winners and gala dinner soon.

Day 2 of the SSAA 2015 Owners and Managers Summit

What a second day of Summit! Admittedly things started off a bit slowly with people reluctant to get out of bed after such an enjoyable night on Tuesday evening at the Sounds of Silence. Not to mention the 5 star buffet breakfast which offers just about everything you can think of. When people finally dragged themselves away things kicked off with a bang with an SSAA favourite, Bernard Salt. A talented demographer who always has some interesting descriptions and predictions about generational change and it’s impacts, he was yet again a hit with the crowd.

After the opening presentation, CEO Simone Hill recognised the importance of SSAA Life and Foundation Members in a special presentation. Individuals who were crucial in the development and establishment of the SSAA were awarded commemorative lapel pins as a thanks for their contributions.

This important ceremony was followed by another; the traditional Welcome to Country in the Uluru Meeting Place amphitheatre. A group of local community ladies played clap sticks and sang facing the dancers (as is customary) to replicate sitting around a camp fire.


Delegates got to experience another creative aspect of the anangu people when artists working with the Mutitjulu Foundation joined them for morning tea. The Foundation works to improve the well-being of those in nearby communities through improved health, education and greater social and economic participation. They presented the SSAA with a one-of-a-kind dot painting to auction amongst members in a silent auction and also on the final night. The painting depicts a water hole around which a snake (and its eggs), and a goanna circle. The outer edge of the artwork shows people meeting one another perhaps in keeping with the idea of a conference (which brings people together).

After morning tea Kate Ruhl the SSAA Para-legal gave an important presentation on employment law. At conference for the first time Kate enjoyed meeting members and putting some faces to names. This practical topic was followed by Craig Davis who spoke about the importance of creativity in the workplace. He explained that to be human is to be creative, and is something we are all capable of.

At lunchtime delegates got chatting to the different service members before returning to sessions to hear from Louisa Coppel who ran a strategic planning workshop. Hopefully people got some practical tips before discussion turned to Asia with a panel composed of Luigi La Tona, Jon Perrins and Alan Seigrist. The afternoon concluded with an inspiring speech by Fred (his last name is too long to publish) and his story as a small operator succeeding in a saturated London market during the GFC.


With a long day and perhaps a bit of information overload, guests were excited to be able to enjoy a relaxing drink and canapés in the Trade Show in the Spotlight that evening. Service Members got a chance to meet and greet; answering queries from existing clients and making connections with new ones.

What will day 3 bring?

Day 1 of the SSAA 2015 Owners and Managers Summit

Day one of the SSAA Uluru Summit is done and dusted, and I think it’s probably fair to say that everyone’s having a good time. With many delegates and service members arriving several days before the conference relaxation and exploration was on the cards. The unique location meant that even before the larger contingent of delegates arrived today (on some seriously delayed flights) there was already a collegiate feeling throughout the venue; members bumping into each other by the pool, at the Outback Pub or at the aptly named Ayers Wok.


Uluru put on some fantastic weather for us today with a beautiful sunrise over the rock (which can be viewed from a lookout just a few hundred meters away from the Sails in the Desert Hotel). The sunshine continued, allowing us to welcome our arrivals with a cool drink and a bright lunchtime buffet by the pool. With over 140 attendees people quickly got chatting to one another before a portion of the group headed off to the dot painting workshop in the town square. The dot painting was a fantastic way for members to get involved with the locals and soak up some of the rich cultural heritage the site has to offer. Participants got to keep their paintings as a memento and everyone returned with an interesting and unique painting, even the adults!


Tuesday evening saw us head off to the award-winning Sounds of Silence Dinner, proudly sponsored by Visy Boxes and More. After a bumpy bus ride guests stepped off the bus into the vivid red sand and wound their way up the crest of a hill through the desert. Majestic views of both Uluru and Kata Juta greeted guests, enhanced by a smoky fog from back burning at Kata Juta. As the sun began to sink delegates enjoyed drinks, bush tucker inspired canapés and a traditional dance by the local Anangu people. With dusk beginning to fall we wound our way down to the Sounds of Silence Dining site and enjoyed a delicious three course meal as well as an insightful talk from local Star-guide Steve. As the temperature continued to drop guests borrowed ponchos and gathered by the fireside with port and dessert to exchange stories. Not long afterwards the coaches appeared out of the darkness to take us back to the hotel.

Visy Boxes  More Logo_RGB SM

Bring on day 2 of the SSAA Summit!

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