Behind the Call Center: Metrics to Measure

Join Holly Fiorello from CallPotential and Brett Copper from Copper Storage Management as we explore how self-storage operators can use call center metrics to improve their business. We discuss metrics that should be tracked, how to measure them, and ways to use that data to make informed decisions.


[Holly Fiorello] (00:02) Thank you everyone for joining me. My name is Holly Fiorello. I am the vice president of marketing for CallPotential, and today I have with me Brett Copper. Would you mind giving everyone a little brief overview of what you do?

[Brett Copper] (0:24) Of course, yeah. So, for anybody that doesn’t know, my name is Brett Copper. I’ve been in the business, I’m 28 now, and I’ve been in the business since I could walk. We started a consulting firm probably 17, 18 years ago in the industry that is the largest Self-Storage consulting firm. And so, my family’s been in that for a long time, grew up there. And then about three-ish years ago, decided to start a management company. But the difference is, it’s just for remotely managed facilities. So, we don’t have full on-site management anywhere, and so decided to capitalize on that. Now we’re, I think with signed contracts, everything, we’re probably up in like the 160/170. So hopefully we’ll be at 200 by Vegas. So, we’re excited about that.

            [Holly Fiorello] (01:10) Wow, 200. Really? That’s amazing. Well, you guys definitely took off when you started. I love to see that success. All right. In case this is your first webinar with us, we’d love to have you guys participate. If you have questions, go ahead and drop them in chat. Brett is a great speaker and always shares lots of information. So, let’s go ahead and at the end we will be sending the recording out.

(01:46) Congrats on your success. Okay so let’s just talk about how your business kind of matured and what are some of the things that you kind of use as your key tenants for it?

{Brett Copper] (02:00) Of course. Well first I’ll say she said ask questions. The only question I’m not going to take is anything about the Falcons, even though I have it behind me. Please do not ask me questions. It makes me really sad, and they’re terrible, and I hate that I’m a fan. So, we’ll just start that first. It could be worse, could be a Cowboys fan, but you know, not today.

(02:19) So, yeah. The key pieces, I’d say, the first was the people we put in the business, right? So, all of our partners, all of our original, you know, key members. Kind of the mission statement, we wanted to do, make sure that we had the right values aligned. And really, that core group of people is the only reason we survived, honestly, up to this point. We were able to grow so fast because when you don’t hire like-minded people that kind of get along in the beginning and have the same goals, and, you know, key values of, you know, whether that’s Integrity, whether you go for honesty, or, you know, any of those pieces, they have to be aligned. And so, putting those right people in.

(02:57) And then as you get bigger it becomes a lot more difficult to do that. So, you have to get really good hiring pieces in place, and you have to really trust the people you’ve decided to make your hires. Because it’s really easy to be consistent with 10, 15, 20 employees, becomes way harder with 60, 70 employees. And so that was kind of a key piece.

(03:17) The vendors we decided to partner with in the beginning to, you know, for software vendors, Call Center Software vendors. You know, lock vendors, DaVinci any of these other places that we use, that was essential because I had to make sure the vendors, we’re using could actually take the amount of business that we were bringing on, and they could launch enough stores with us. In fact, this month we launched 25 stores so I don’t know a lot of vendors that can support that. But CallPotential was a key piece of that, right? Being able to say, you know, it’s complicated. We’re launching 25 stores with different phone numbers, and different tree routes, and all these things. So, you know, having somebody that has a good implementation team to kind of match that is key.

(03:58) And then marketing was a big piece. We were very fortunate that when we brought Terry Campbell on from Live Oak Bank, who’s been a very good friend for a long time, he brought Tess who’s our director of sales and marketing. And so, she had great experience in getting this out there, because our old school way of marketing was just everyone knows our

last name. Hey, come do business with us. And so that’s great, but we wanted to do more than that. And so, we said hey, let’s hire some people that know what they’re doing.

(04:23) And then we had to improve our services. And we talked about this a lot. But it was a lot easier, you know, to run 20 stores than 200. And the change happens probably around 50, 60 stores. You know, your original systems have to be completely redone to scale, and so that that change has happened multiple times where you get to a new level you realize not efficient enough, the way we did it. We’ve got to grow and get consistency and thank God for Terry Campbell coming over and making us more corporate, because man that was a big help getting those corporate pieces in place for sure.

[Holly Fiorello] (04:58) Terry is fantastic. And Tess as well. Thank you for sharing. That’s, very interesting. So, you didn’t have to have everything figured out on day one? You’ve been, you know, re-shuffling, refiguring things at every level. I love the way that you put that.

[Brett Copper] (05:15) We called it “putting together the airplane as we fly it”. That’s really how this started. You know, a lot of things start with a good idea and then you kind of build around it. So, you want to get the foundation as quick as possible, but you don’t always have to have a hundred percent of the details when you start, as long as you got good people.

[Holly Fiorello] (05:35) I love that. And those are all great vendors you mentioned as well. Since we’re going to be talking about call center metrics today, what’s changed since you started your call center to where it’s at now?

[Brett Copper] (05:49) A few, really key changes. One was consistency within operations. So, for example, and you guys actually kind of helped us build some of these efficiencies. But you know, when we started, we had 50 facilities that ran 50 different ways. And we gave so much customization on, you know, these specifics. You could have these rules and these rules. And when you have 50 sites running 50 different ways, it creates really high call volume and high call times, queue holds, those kinds of things, because you have to train people to know, you know, 50 different answers to the same question.

(06:27) And so while that’s great to get business in the beginning, then you start to be able to prove. Look, I know you guys want to do it this way, here’s the best way to do it. I can show you the track record. Then we started being able to hold customers more accountable and say look, I know this is the way you used to do it, here’s how we do it, here’s why it’s better. And so, selling them on that allowed us, you know, call volume, call time plummeted, because all of a sudden, you know, people are answering the same question the same way.

(06:58) Putting in automatic, you know, efficiencies. Any automated processes like, you know, automatic collections, right? I mean, that’s kind of a big piece where we still have humans call once that auction process starts, but, in the meantime, texting, emails, auto calls set up through, like in your case, with call potential we have all that set up. So that then helps kind of the processes along and instead of needing two agents per one store, or one agent for two stores, now we can get five or six agents per one store because of those efficiencies that we, you know, that we put in place.

(07:32) Probably the greatest decision we have made, though, and I gotta give credit to Gary Edmonds for showing us and convincing this, he does a very similar product to ours and we’re good friends. He said look, I’ve been shopping around, you know. All over in the Philippines, different countries, and say look, can we, is there some sort of partnership we could get out there that says we could provide better quality here, better hours, better performance? Because I don’t know if anybody isn’t affected by this problem, but it’s becoming very difficult to hire good people. And on the call center side the reason why a lot of big call centers are really hurting in service right now, is because finding good Americans to do base level calls. So, like, payments, you know, rentals, just the basic things, you can’t pay them $50 an hour to do that job and make it affordable. But that’s the only way you’re going to find really good people.

(08:26) And so we had a full, gigantic 100% American Workforce on the call center side and I was all about it. You could not change my mind. Once Gary showed it to us, we shopped for months, we called all different places, all different call centers in the U.S., over there. And we came to the realization that we could do this in a way, as long as we may maintain control, quality control, we still have an American Workforce on top as managers. It’s kind of a tier two process. Oh my God, our Google reviews the month after we switched tripled and then quadrupled in four and five stars. It was unbelievable.

(09:00) Our collection shot down, tenant insurance rate on stores that we we’ve done audits on are like 80 – 90%. I saw a store we had the other day with 100% tenant Insurance penetration with the first 39 rentals because it’s a new build. I mean best decision we ever made. And so, developing that definitely really helped the business model. And now, you know, probably the biggest compliment we get, and we were just at the ski Workshop, is how much better the call center is compared to anything that’s out there because that quality shot through the roof by getting really skilled workers, even if they’re not here for that tier one.

[Holly Fiorello] (09:38) And see, you got to tell me a little bit more about the Google reviews. What do you think the difference was that made that impact?

[Brett Copper] (09:46) Oh, attitude is by far number one. I’ve hired hundreds of managers. And with all those hires, you know, one of the first things you teach them, right, is they’re answering the phone in the traditional sense. You’ve got to smile when you answer the phone because you can hear it through the phone, you know? You’re asking, “How’s your day?” You have these polite conversations, you make it light, positive, because storage is a very stressful experience. You know, somebody just got a divorce, somebody passed away somebody’s getting married, kids are going to college. Whatever the case is, it’s very stressful. And so, renting a storage unit needs to be a least stressful point, and so it’s becoming very difficult to find just happy employees that would work in that scenario. Because we trained and hired in person, most people lived in Birmingham, we trained there, and we had great employees. But then you just started getting, you know, employees that just didn’t care as much, right? And so that was a really big key component, you know?

(10:42) The requirements are a little different. Like in our case they have to have a college degree, you know? Even like with our outsourced call center that we brought and partnered with. They have to have a college degree, they have to have multiple forms of Internet. You don’t have, you know, sound in the background. That’s a big thing of the American Workforce. Most of us have kids working from home, you know, and so you hear those kids screaming or animals barking or whatever and that gets frustrating. And so, we found that the workforce there is just, they have a lot better requirements on look, we understand we’re here, we don’t have those other issues. And so that was that was another reason why they shot through is because genuinely they were giving a better, more positive experience.

[Holly Fiorello] (11:21) I love to hear that. That sounds like a win-win for your tenants and for your company. You mentioned you have a second layer over as a management layer. What are some of the things that you guys are looking at and managing within their process?

[Brett Copper] (11:38) So I’ll kind of start with the, maybe the role that they’re doing. But that, tier two is what we call it. They exist for a couple of reasons. So, let’s say that someone is older, you know, maybe we’ve got somebody in their 70s plus, and let’s say that just a slight accent whatever that they maybe have a harder time hearing, right? Well, we can transfer them directly to a manager, and those are our most highly skilled people that came over from, you know, the original American Force. So, they’re all extremely good, they’ve been here a long time, they can answer any question in a second. So, we want to give people the option. We never want to alienate, you know, any customer because of an experience. We want to give that to them.

(12:16) And then as far as a metric standpoint, we have a couple key pieces. So, we can kind of get into that since this is the topic, and you guys actually proposed this to us and kind of showed some more layers we can look at for, you know, metrics in the call center.

(12:30) But conversion rates are obviously number one. Especially rentals, occupancy, rental rates, have all dropped substantially in the industry over the last few months. Every big company’s talking about it. Cube, ExtraLife, Public. In Utah at the ski resort that’s all anybody talked about. And that’s what happens sometimes when we have the craziest boom we’ve ever had, you know, with 2020 and 2021, going into ‘22.

(12:56) So the conversion rate’s number one. So, we have to track how many leads are coming in because that’s a marketing piece, right? Where they’re coming from but then, more importantly, once they’re here, what percentage of leads are we converting? And so, I know we partnered with you guys and lean on you for some of the expertise, but, you know, you guys serve thousands and thousands of clients. And so, we said look, what are some metrics we could use as averages and where does that go? So, I think the national average, and you guys can correct me if it’s changed for you guys, was like 24% conversion rate or something. And we were able to get that up over 50%, so it’s technically right now about 50.8%. So, it’s double the national average. Well, that’s important to us. We want to get it to 70, 75, 80% if we can. So that’s an immediate track because the second we notice maybe an agent has lower than that, or you know, it’s an anomaly, well then we can immediately have the managers dive in and go, what’s going on here? Is it part of the script? Are you, you know, diverting off of that? Are you not bringing up price points here? What’s going on there? So that was kind of a really big piece.

(14:03) The second key metric is call time and call volume. Putting those together is huge. And call time is very important because the higher the call time, that tells us one of two things. Customers are more frustrated, and they’re not getting to their answer quick enough. And so that directly affects how many calls an agent can take. You know, it all feeds into each other and that’s a big business piece. That’s why a lot of people can’t afford to do call centers or they’re really expensive, is because the more calls an agent can take in a quicker amount of time means the product is better. Serve the tenants and you don’t need as many people.

(14:39) And so that’s a really key metric and so we can track, you know, it used to be like nine or ten minutes or something. And because in our model everything’s remote, there is no on-site manager to send them to, so it’s all on the phone. So, our call times run higher. It’s already down over the last couple months to like six minutes and something, so that’s almost double the drop. And to be fully remote, that’s huge to be able to deal with calls that quickly. So that metric is essential.

(15:05) And then call volume is kind of that third key metric, just because it tells us, could we be explaining to customers something better? Are we not communicating rate increases well enough via email or letters? Was the lease confusing? Was there something in the rental process? What’s causing them to call us? So, keeping that call volume down tells us we are answering their questions, providing good customer service on site, at the physical facility, that they’re not, you know, running into issues that they need to call us. So those are probably the three most important metrics by far.

            [Holly Fiorello] (15:40) In terms of your call volume, do you staff based on your call volume? Have you seen it cyclically change?

[Brett Copper] (15:51) Yes, certainly. We have to. One of the biggest reasons is we’re first of the month billing, right? So, all of our staffing really goes along the last week of the month and the first week of the month. Then we also have to factor in how many stores did we launch? Because we know we get a really big, heavy front-end number of calls after a store has been launched because it switches management, there’s new payment processors or auto pay, or tenant insurance rate increases, whatever it is. And so, we want to make sure we can answer those. And I think our call, last time I checked, even with these 25 launches this month, is like 98 some odd percent.

(16:27) And then for new leads, because you guys actually, in your system, you have this cool ability where we can track an incoming call. Whether it’s a new customer or an existing customer, we can actually divert them to a higher ranking call path. So, we can say, all right, this person’s a new customer. Well, they’re going to go to the top of the list before anybody else. So, our call answer rate can be 99.9%, you know, or 100% for new leads, and then be 98 point something overall. So, it’s huge, being able to differentiate because the rentals matter more than anything else on the planet. And so, being able to set up those pathways using your system was huge for us because that’s why we have such a good rental rate and conversion rate.

            [Holly Fiorello] (17:11) Yeah, those are fantastic numbers and that’s your service level agreement, right?  Like, you want your call center to be able to answer 100% of the calls that come in. And the way that you said it the other day, I thought was great, was you’re set up where you can answer 100% of the sales calls. Like, you’re not missing because you don’t have someone to be able to take that call. That is really great.  What kind of individual metrics do you have for your call center employees? Do you have any of those?

[Brett Copper} (17:46) Certainly. Aside from the three that we talked about, a really big one is the customer response and feedback. So, we have, basically, we have a couple different measurements in place. We have a quality control system, both internally that we have staff that that’s all they do is they listen to calls. So, they go through every call, they pick so many calls a day from every single staff member. They listen to those calls, grade those calls, and then do immediate follow-up with the agent if there’s, you know, any place they need to improve. So that’s kind of a really key piece because without that quality control, how do you really ever catch the issues going on? And you need to have a good sample size of each individual agent. You don’t just listen to 100 random calls. You pick so many for each agent, you know, that’s paramount.

(18:30) And then we have, exactly, you’re talking about service level agreement. We have stats that basically track, you know, based on a few of the internal metrics on your end. Like, it kind of grades agents and then we can grade them on script, and call time, and answer rate within, you know, one ring, half a ring. You know, did it take 10 seconds for that agent to answer? And so, all of those in your system come through and make a grade, you know, kind of automated. And then our managers can go in, and they analyze quickly and realize that there’s an issue, if there’s something that somebody needs help with immediately on the spot. So those are kind of the individual pieces, but getting customer feedback is obviously very important. Listen to those calls because that’s the only way, at the end of the day, you can really define exactly how happy was customer or upset, and exactly why.

(19:14) And so if we hear a call like that or we see a review, because I don’t care who you are in storage, you’re always going to get some negative reviews. You’re selling people’s stuff, right, for auction. You know, you’re locking people out of their unit. There is no way to get away with it, you know, without people like that. So being able to immediately have our tier two call those tenants and immediately try and rectify it and try and get them to reverse the review and see if there’s something we can fix, that was huge for us too.

(19:40) Because then you’re turning in, Google actually ranks that really well, right? If you had a bad review and they go back and change it, it’s huge to them because it shows that you remediate situations. So that was really big for us, too. Because, you know, you want to have a good customer, have one that was, you know, maybe didn’t understand, was upset, and then you fix it. They’re going to be your customer forever because that shows that, you know, that you care.

[Holly Fiorello] (20:01) Yeah. That’s such a great way to proactively reach out to them rather than doing through email or, you know, leaving it alone, or just even responding on the Google review. I think that’s a fantastic idea. I’m just so impressed that you guys have really mastered the call center. Like the operations and the performance, and that’s wonderful. What are some training and coaching opportunities you have for your call center staff?

[Brett Cooper] (20:36) Yeah, so we have a couple different forms there. So, we have internal training and resources, right? So that is direct, ongoing, monthly training or immediate one-on-one training. So, if somebody, you know, needs improvement right there, we hear a call, we can immediately call into them, go over exactly what needs to change, rectify it. If it’s a situation that occurs again, we obviously have a normal kind of write-up pathway, right, to ensure that hey, this person’s just not going to work out. We’ve retrained them once, we’ve retrained them twice, whatever that standard ends up being. So that’s the most important, is the direct one-on-one.

(21:09) And then having, we basically collect all these issues, right? So, if we know call center agents will turn in like, hey I didn’t know how to answer this question, and we track all of it. So, it says hey, we keep getting this same operational question from call center agents. Well immediately we go into a training mode where we go through that specific piece, so that way we constantly do it. Another big piece that goes hand in hand with training is we developed, kind of a worksheet, like a quick fact, almost, of all the most asked questions. We had this little “frequently asked questions page” they go to it, and they immediately can find an answer, right, as soon as the tenant’s on the phone instead of having to transfer, put them on hold, so that’s kind of big. And then as well we use a service called Paychecks for our HR System that our HR people, use and so they do a great job providing all sorts of resources. So, seminars and webinars and things that we can send to if we know that there’s a customer service piece willing to listen to or better management, you know, we can provide those resources as well. Very helpful.

[Holly Fiorello] (22:06) I love that. I’m very big into putting back into your team and giving them those opportunities. How are you measuring or analyzing areas for improvement in your operations call center or more?

[Brett Copper] (22:26) Yeah, so we kind of a few levels divided upon. So, we have, you know, tenant insurance, waived fees, collected revenue like admin fees, those kinds of things and conversion rates are by far the top four Kings. I mean that, that’s it, because we can measure from that point how successful a facility is doing. And AR’s as well, if you want to add that as the fifth. Because you know, conversion rates tells us directly how effective of a salesperson we have, and I don’t care what anybody says, the most important role for a call center agent is sales in storage, by far. There is no argument against it, that is the number one role that they have. That’s how we make our money, and you’re gonna turn over tenants. We want to bring them in at the highest rate possible, giving away the least amount of the discount, you know, to be competitive.

(23:14) And that’s what’s gonna drive it. But then people don’t start to factor in, like I said, the tenant insurance number, for example. Well, that’s huge because tenant Insurance, depending on what your setup is and who you use, you know in our case we give our clients 50% of the tenant insurance revenue. A lot of management companies maybe don’t give any or they give a small amount. We give them 50%. Well, if you’re getting, you know, an extra 10, 20 units, you know that month, that could get it compared to, you know, a manager is not as good at it. That’s monumental because right now every dollar in revenue a month is $150 in asset value. Well, it doesn’t take anything to add that up really quick, so to me, measuring that, you know, ability of, I think the national average of penetration rates like between 60 and 70%, depending on the company and how they do it. So, to look right now, we were reviewing this yesterday to see, like, above 80s and mid-80s to 90s, well that’s a big measurement. We want to keep pushing that up and obviously it’s never going to stay at, you know, 100% because you can’t make people take insurance. You can offer it and then require that they show some sort of proof, but that is a huge way for us to keep assessing the revenue.

(24:22) Well that goes hand in hand with waived fees. And my suggestion on this is stop letting your managers waive fees. Because waived fees end up adding up to a lot of additional revenue, and more importantly, it teaches tenants that they can just get away with, you know, not paying you, whatever. I think our rule is we give, for a tenant who’s been there they have a proven record, like once a year, I believe, and I might get corrected by my stuff. It’s either once a year, once every six months, and they have to get it approved by manager. And usually in that case, it’s like an elderly person, someone that, you know, they got a rate increase and so they sent a check, or whatever, or they didn’t realize, and they paid the old amount. And so, they’re off by like, seven bucks. Okay, we’ll tell them we’ll waive that, you know, seven bucks. Waive the late fee that one time. It’s those type scenarios where we really do it for tenants that are good tenants, that have been there, and we have a record. But stop letting them waive them because it adds up and it directly affects AR.

(25:14) Same thing with getting tenants to pay. You know, we realized that our collected late fees, auctions, everything else, we started getting better revenue and had lower collections when we just didn’t waive people’s lien fees. And we had our agents being steadfast on the phone like look, you’ve got to pay this. Now one thing I would suggest in line that’s really helped, is allow them to take some sort of payout deal for a move out. That is essential, because if someone owes $600, you know, for their unit. Let’s say they call, and they can pay $300. If you’re gonna move out and get all of your stuff and pay me, you know, 50% when I’m going to take it to auction and possibly only get $50, right, or $60, and you can see in the unit, right, we’ve cut them, we know it’s in there. I mean, that’s a much better deal. So, allowing our, you know, managers, giving them the ability on that tier two to make those calls, and our auction staff to say hey look, we’re going to get more money doing this, that’s obviously essential. But that takes some good managers to make those calls, and they can kind of understand, you know, weighing it out.

[Holly Fiorello] (26:16) Wow. All great information. We’ve got a bunch of questions that just came in. Are you up for those?

[Brett Copper] (26:27) Yeah. Of course, anything. And I’ll say, kind of one last piece that’s been really helpful for anybody. We just launched it, so I don’t have as many stats. But we launched “Swivel”, which is a chat bot. And so, it’s on our website. And I think in the month of December, which would have been, I think, our first full month, we had something like 8,000 interactions on the website. And only 500 of those were like repeat customers, so you know 7,500 were new interactions, which is just huge.

(26:55) So being able to, you know, provide, you know, another resource because this is kind of crazy. They haven’t released these stats yet, but you know, we were at the ski workshop and the SSA has a new demand study coming out. I’m hoping to do some presentations on it once they finally release it. But, in that demand study, it’ll be for 2023, hopefully released before Vegas, they showed that the highest renting demographic is Millennials. Which I never would have expected, I mean I always thought it would be Boomers. I’ve been told forever that it’s right, we’re consultants, that’s what we’ve operated. But the newest data shows the highest percentage of renters is Millennials, and I believe the second is actually Gen Z, which is even crazier. So, when that comes out, we’ll obviously have the better stats.

(27:42) But, if that’s true, then I mean, the Remote Management, right, it makes even more sense. We’re giving them the ability to chat online. Because as a 28-year-old, I hate calling like, AT&T, or DirecTV, or Google, anybody. I just go on their website and chat because I get the answer faster. I don’t get sent through this loop of hold music and going to different departments. So, it makes sense that in storage, with such an easy, you know, product to sell. It’s just three walls and a door, and you can tell them what the amenities are. Being able to direct people there is actually a quicker experience.

(28:17) And so, the way we did it with swivel is, it has automated responses that learn, you know, get better over time. We put in new information based on our rules. But then it also has our American agents who can take over at any point to answer questions if someone’s frustrated with AI, or if they ask a question it can’t answer, they immediately jump in and can talk to the human and have human on human contact. Call them if they need to, but they can deal with it. So that is huge and I’m excited to see how much it cuts down on calls and, you know, generates better customer response.

[Holly Fiorello] (28:47) I’m going to follow up with you on that because I’m very interested as well.  And that is a great point, on the demand study.  We were talking about that earlier, too. It’s just like you said, we’ve just grown up that it’s the Boomers and Gen X, and will Millennials decide to use storage or not?

(29:08) Great. Okay, so thank you for all of that. All right. So, we’ll hop into some of these questions. I think some of them you might have already answered. I’m just going to go through the list. Adam asked, “Where is the majority of the call center from? Is it also remote and offshore?”

[Brett Copper] (29:23) Yeah. So, kind of what I talked on earlier. So, we have a portion of the call center that’s called our tier two, that’s all Americans. And they’re all trained in person, most of which were in Birmingham, Alabama. That’s kind of where we started with our management staff. And so, they’re all trained there and have been with us a long time. And then we used to have another 50, 60 tier one agents that were all American. And so, the best decision we ever made is I, you know, referenced earlier, was switching and partnering with a group in the Philippines. That, I mean, completely changed our whole business model and customer satisfaction has just quadrupled. So, best decision we ever made. But they’re all in one place, trained in person, hired. And then we actually, it’s kind of a unique partnership in that we also get to do the quality control for them and help manage them. But they recruit, train, and oversee. So, it’s a really cool, kind of In-House, but also outsourced solution. It’s been great.

[Holly Fiorello] (30:17) Awesome. Next one. You mentioned SLA’s but not

the KPI’s. You share that you are hoping to answer calls within one ring. What is your call center occupancy and how many minutes out of an hour are your people on calls with customers?

[Brett Copper] (30:32) Yes. That’s a good question. It all depends on the time of day and where it is. So, what we’ve landed on is we give 12 hours of coverage seven days a week. 12 hours of coverage seven days a week. And so, our answer rate on all calls is almost 99%. It’s like 98.8 or something. And then our answer rate for new tenants, so anybody that’s not already in the system, is like 99.8, 99.9%. Because there’s always calls, I don’t care what it is, if someone drops out and they call and they hit the IVR that says press one to rent a unit, you hang up. You missed that call. It’s just how it registers in this system. So, it doesn’t even have to ring somebody.

(31:11) But the amount of time does depend. I mean, there’s some days where, you know, between calls someone spends 30 seconds before the next call and then there’s days where it might be 10 minutes to 20 minutes, just depending on how many sites we launched and everything else. But you want to achieve a balance where most people, they’re spending 90% right of their work day, you know, answering calls. And you factor in your breaks and those kinds of things. That’s where you hit a nice balance where you’re not going to drive them crazy or they talk for, you know, eight hours straight non-stop. But you achieve a good balance. You want somewhere in that range.

            [Holly Fiorello] (31:46) I think you and I could do that though, just talk eight hours straight with no breaks.

[Brett Copper] (31:50) That’s all I do for a living. I talk like, 12 hours a day. I love it. But yeah, I could do it. Sure.

[Holly Fiorello] (31:57) Chantal asked, “Do you have any advice or recommendations for a call center that’s just starting out with two staff members, 16 to 17 stores?”

[Brett Copper] (32:05) Yes. First is, if you can find someone with experience to hire, that has some form of call center experience just as is, right? And it doesn’t mean that they had to manage one, it doesn’t mean that they were Q A, or anything. But if you can get someone, you know, you use Indeed. Great tool for us. Use LinkedIn, put it out there. It doesn’t matter. Like, in our case, we found people from Wells Fargo, you know, call center. From AT&T call center that we brought on. So, it doesn’t matter. There’s a million call centers but getting someone on and putting them in some sort of manager-ish role, even if it’s assistant, whatever, that you can trust. That way they’re just efficiencies that they’ve learned that would take you six months, right, to think of or to do.

(32:49) But the other big piece is whoever you’re using for your software. Like, if it is CallPotential, get on a call with them and go through their recommendations. That’s the biggest. We understand, just like when we do business with people, we’re going to tell you the best way to do it if it has to do with storage operations, revenue management. But we did not know the best way to do a call center starting off. And so, leaning on them, who they have tens of thousands of stores, right? They know the best way and they have all these statistics that say yeah, you’d be better off changing this call time. You know, doing these sorts of call tree routes, and here are the KPI’s to look for. Leaning on them in the beginning is huge, for sure.

[Holly Fiorello] (33:30) Thank you. Great tip. Adam asked, “What is your conversion rate standard on sales leads?”

[Brett Copper] (33:36) Yes. So, the average nationally, I believe, is like 24, 25%. It could have changed, you know, slightly, whatever. We are fully remote. So, for the call center we’re over 50%. I think it’s like 50.8, so we’re double the national average. I think you should be doing, you know, pure inbound calls. It should be, you know, 30% at least of leads coming in. Even though the average is 24,25. We’re in a different world. There’s less walk-ins, more people are renting online, those kinds of things. It really needs to be above, you know, 30, 35%, but certainly achieving. I mean, I hope, I think with the building up that we’re doing, the things we’ve changed, I think we can get to 65, 70% here in the next few months if we can. I think that’s achievable. So, as the landscape changes, I expect those numbers to keep going up. Especially with the younger, you know, generations being the bigger renters. But right now, if you’re just starting off, you need to be at least at 35%.

[Holly Fiorello] (34:33) I agree. Carrie asked, “Can the remote agents show units prior to the rental, and how do you handle auctions? How do you handle move outs?

[Brett Copper] (34:42) Great question. So, we’ll start to “seeing” the units. Yes. So, if a facility has a gate, we have access, you know? We always use a gate system that has, you know, remote operation so we can open and close it, right? Or we can give a temporary gate code and then immediately cancel it out. So, we can call them, direct them to the unit that they want to see, you know, that size. If they don’t like that one, on the phone we can send them to a different unit. And then we also, but it’s just a one-time code, or we open it ourselves. That way we’re not, you know, giving out something that’s going to provide a liability at the facility. If it’s a facility that doesn’t have a gate, obviously we just walk them through there.

(35:18) The most important way, though, to show those units is your website. By far. Because that really should be your storefront, right? Showing them, here are the different units, here’s pictures of the facility, here’s inside of the unit, how clean it is. And then arming your agents with really good knowledge to ask, “What are you storing?” And then based on what they’re storing, they already know the type of unit that person’s gonna want, right? So that keeps from having to, you know, always constantly show people. You want them to know how much they’re storing and where to send them. That makes all the difference in the world.

(35:52) For auctions, I actually really like the system because there weren’t great ways to do this when we started, and I love operation. So, it kind of designed a way for this to work and it just has worked wonders. What we do is, we use personally DaVinci, and we have some stores on Noki. But primarily DaVinci overlocks which are, you know, overlocks you put on a unit, and in the system, you put in the lock code. And so, when someone rents a unit or an auction buyer shows up, or whatever, they get the code to go open that unit.

(36:22) So for auctions, it’s all done over the phone, and we have an auction staff that’s all internal. And so that auction staff does nothing but the auction calls and deals with buyers. So, we use for ours, but there’s other great ones like is excellent as well. But when that auction takes place our boots on the ground, which is someone goes by the facility one day a week, they’re like a 1099 employee we hire for a couple hundred bucks a month, they go by and they’re going to, you know, cut the lock, take pictures. That goes straight to the website and then our auction staff takes it and builds out the actual auction. So that’s all done remotely. They put the pictures up, we use Late2Lein which does really well with automating like newspaper ads, sending out certified letters if that’s needed, emailing, whatever the case is. And then when the auction buyer shows up, we give them a temporary gate code, they go to the unit, they pay us a hundred-dollar deposit on a credit card, and then they clean out the unit, send us pictures, we refund the deposit and they’re good to go. So, it’s an easy process. We don’t need anyone on site to do it, and that’s been really, really, good for us.

(37:27) Move outs? You know in storage, probably half the people really ever tell you they’re moving out. The other half, fine. So, for the people that tell us, they let us know, they send us a picture. We basically have an email or a text thread they can shoot to us, they move them out of the system, and mark “it needs to be cleaned.” Otherwise, with our weekly walk through, some places we do in two days, you know, two days a week, three days, but at minimum one day a week. They’re going to go by the facility, do a walk through. They find an empty unit. They make sure that it’s paid up, nothing’s owed on it, they clean it out and get it ready for the next tenant. So, it’s a really easy process. You know, Remote Management, some people are like well, you know you miss out on renting a couple extra days that month. Let’s say, you know, your guy goes by on Wednesday, doesn’t come back till the following Wednesday, someone moves out Sunday. But what the trade-off is in Opex of not paying a full-time person versus the couple extra days that a unit’s not online, obviously well worth it. Well worth it.

[Holly Fiorello] (38:24) Awesome. So, there were some questions that came in in terms of like, specific reports in CallPotential and where to find them, and so I think I’m going to direct you guys to our support team. If you want to chat with them on the website, unless Brett you want to you know off the top of your head?

[Brett Copper] (38:41) That’s probably the easiest, quickest way to do it. That’s fine.

[Holly Fiorello] (38:45) Yeah. So, in terms of, if you are a CallPotential user, how to use competitional reports, I would encourage you to reach out to your onboarding team or the support team, and they can give you some information. Emily wants to know if there are any significant pros/cons to having call center employees working from home versus all in an office setting.

[Brett Copper] (39:05) Yes. So, this is not just our industry, but everybody’s dealing with this, You know, jobs are always, the quality person you find is always based off competition. And so, where are other people trying to work? What are the benefits they receive versus pay? And that’s what’s going to decide if they come work for you.

(39:24) Well, Covid messed up a bunch of things including making people not want to go back to work in an office. And so, so many jobs, even ones that that hurt a lot more from working people from home, have really struggled if they don’t offer, you know, letting their employees work from home. And so, the quality person based on what you can afford to pay for a call center, trying to make them come work in person, it’s very difficult to find good employees.

(39:50) Now obviously in person, there’s a little bit better level, maybe of service, unless you’re using good employee software where you can constantly track and you have good oversight, right? Because the only thing you gain in person is you have someone watching over their shoulder, like in person they can do it. But there are so many software’s now that allow you to like, look at people’s screens, or like you know that immediately flags if like, on CallPotential, hey this person just didn’t answer this call. That they rang for and someone else in the queue had to answer it before them, but it was their turn. You know, we know that immediately. So being able to provide that “over the shoulder management” you can now do virtually. So, I would say anytime you were trying to hire for a call center, especially if you want to let them work from home but train in person, that’s kind of a good caveat. You want to do the training in person, if possible, but you’re not going to find good people if you want them all to go work in a traditional office for a call center. Unless you want to pay like 40 bucks an hour and that’s just, the numbers usually don’t work at all for a call center for that rate.

[Holly Fiorello] (40:52) Yeah, agree. Dean would like to ask if you are able to set hours of operations when the phones turn on or off.

[Brett Copper] (41:04) That’s exactly right. So, part of the calls, you know, CallPotential systems, we get to do all sorts of, you know, guidelines timelines for all of our call routes. So, we say, “This store is in Central Time. So, from you know 8 a.m. in the morning till 8 p.m. at night, Monday through Sunday, if someone calls that number, it’s going to go straight into the call center.” And we also broadcast that. So, all of our online marketing instead of saying “Office Hours” it all says, “Call Center Hours”, that way they know they can get help 12 hours a day, seven days a week. And then if someone calls at, you know, 10:00 at night, well then it goes to an after-hours where if it’s an emergency, they can get a hold of somebody, or if it’s just a normal thing, they put in their information, they get called first thing in the morning as soon as it opens. So, you can, yes. To answer your question. I suggest doing it, otherwise you’re going to have an Ops person taking calls at 2 A.M and that’s, we did that for a while and that’s terrible. So don’t do that for sure.

[Holly Fiorello] (42:08) What percentage of your call volume is new business versus existing tenants?

[Brett Copper] (42:13) Hmm, that is a great question, and I know some of our call center people are on it. We could pull stats to show that. I don’t know off the top of my head. By far, you know, your larger majority is always going to be existing tenants because of payments. You know, the majority of calls we get are payment calls. Why people still want to call and pay the phone? I have no idea. But one good thing we did that’s a CallPotential feature, and I don’t know if that exists in other ones, is if someone owes money and they’re in the system, it says hey, they haven’t paid their bill this month. The first route for that active customer, it flags them and says hey, you owe so much money, would you like to pay your bill via an automated IVR system that’s, you know, it’s really safe and secure. Well that then cuts down on your calls for existing customers. But the majority are always going to be existing for some shape, form, you know, or another. But the majority are our payment calls.

[Holly Fiorello] (43:09) And I think it would probably change too, based on the time of the month, right? When the leads come in, and when the service calls come, in and when those rate increases go out.

[Brett Copper] (43:20) That’s exactly right, yep.

[Holly Fiorello] (43:24) Okay. So, do you use any hardware stores like kiosks, webcam support, etc.?

[Brett Copper] (43:30) Great question. So, we’ve tested all sorts of those hardware pieces. You know, kiosk and there was a time when the kiosks were kind of everything, right? There’s a couple year fad, about three or four years ago, where people really started using them. The problem is, cell phones progressed at such a rate that you can do a rental, in a lot of cases, in my, you know, my opinion, quicker on your cell phone because it has your address saved, your credit card saved. You know, in my case, if I’m filling out a form to rent something, I hit one button, use my thumbprint, it auto fills everything and I’m good to go. So, you can rent in a minute and a half, you know, two, three minutes. Nothing wrong necessarily, with a kiosk, but we’ve just found that they don’t get used enough in our case, you know, it’s only 1, 2% of our

tenants use them at the facilities. We tried, so we decided look, it’s not worth, you know, necessarily the investment there, we wouldn’t rather do it.

(44:21) There are other groups, you know, good groups, Storage Express was a great example that maybe do some of the webcam stuff, right? You know, when you’re when you’re looking at it, it’s like, do we need? I’ve never understood the quality control problem with webcams, right? Because the bigger you scale, it works at 10, 20, stores. And again, this is our opinion, but it works. It works with that number of stores. Having a good person that’s well dressed sitting with a background behind them or in an office with a webcam works. But when you have hundreds of stores, being able to scale that quality up, you know, do you pay for a setup at their house? Do you do all these other things? So, we found it’s just not necessary. We’re really good at selling on the phone, and we found that to be enough.

(45:13) Now, CallPotential is working on another feature. They’ve tested it out, we’ve kind of played with it, that does have face to face where you can like, hit a button and do that. So, kind of the places we’ve thought about potentially using it is not on the rental side, but on the service side. So maybe they moved out, they just want to go ahead and hit the button while they’re on the phone and show us. Or maybe there’s something wrong with their hasp and they can’t explain. They tell us and they show us like oh, easy you know, we’ll have a guy right out there to fix it. Those kind of service things, but we’ve never felt the need to do the face-to-face for rentals.

[Holly Fiorello] (45:46) So you do any kind of signage at your properties to drive calls to the call center?

[Brett Copper] (45:54) Certainly. Someone, I don’t know if they’re on here, but it started as kind of funny, but it ended up being a good marketing play. One thing we want to show people is we are Remote Management, and it’s supposed to be that way, right? So, we have, like, marketing that says, “The lights are on, nobody’s home,” we’re Remote Management.

You know, those kinds of things, but it goes further. We have QR code signs that say how to rent, so it has step by step. You can use QR, you can call us, or you can go on the website yourself. We make it super simple and clear. And then obviously within the facility, we have all sorts of signs say look, hey if you have any questions, if you’re concerned, if there’s any problem, you call us directly because we would rather field those before it ever goes online, right? So, definitely. You’ve got to have good signage for remote. You need it without remote, but with remote the signage is a very key piece to keeping up, having tenants feel safe and say hey, this is how it’s supposed to be.

[Holly Fiorello] (46:50) Great point, and I love that you are using different channels for them to engage with. So, you know, make it as easy as possible for them.

[Brett Copper] (46:57) That’s right.

[Holly Fiorello] (46:58) Well, wonderful. One more. I just gotta read this out loud because it was so funny. Adam, he said it just to host and panelists so I’m going to read it to

everyone, but he said, “Kiosks were probably cool when Redbox was a thing.” And that’s when I started laughing when Brett was talking if you saw that. So, thank you for making us laugh, Adam. Okay. There’s actually two questions and then we’ll set you free. Jake asked if you devote a portion of your call center workforce to answering calls and making outbound collection calls.

[Brett Copper] (47:31) Yes. Yep, that’s exactly right, that’s exactly right. And lead calls. That’s super important aside from collection. So that means a reservation comes in, well we need to call them immediately to secure that rental. You know, the old age thinking is you want to call reservations within 15 minutes. But the first five minutes is even better to landing it. So, if you see one come in the website it flags us, and then we have someone reach out to them. And then same thing, when someone calls, you know, we want to get their name and information first. Before we do anything else. That way if they say, “Yeah, I’m’, just thinking about it,” we put them on a list and then our system, all of our agents, they’ll just work on outbound calling those leads until one day the lead stops answering or they tell us, ‘Hey, I don’t need storage.” But we want to try and close all those outbound leads as well. But yes, you’ve got to do both.

[Holly Fiorello] (48:18) Wonderful. And then the final question is from Doyle. He mentioned that he’s moving to a remote operation from a hub and spoke model, and he’s looking to expand other markets, and is looking for resources that would be helpful for making this transition.

There are a few webinars that we’ve done around the remote property management that Brett has been on in the past as well, and then also just reaching out to him directly. As you can see, he shares his wisdom very freely and openly for us, which is why we always love to have Brett on. We will include his email address and phone number in the follow-up with the recording if you want to reach out to him directly, or maybe even Tess could pop it into the chat right now if anybody, you know, just can’t wait to talk with him. We will be in Florida at the Florida Self-Storage Association; we’ll be in New Orleans for the SSA spring. Where else will you be Brett, that they could come and see you?

[Brett Copper] (49:19) Yeah, SSA, I’ll be at Arizona. In fact, Scott, one of your guys, is going to be speaking on that panel with us. And then obviously ISS, the SSA shows, Scott Myers events, I’ll be at the Mastermind there, and I think Nashville. Those are the current, the closest ones I have on the schedule for Owner’s Summit.

(49:38) I have, I’m gonna get killed for making this announcement by Terry. That’s okay, I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna be very vague with this. So, one exciting thing that we are right now pursuing, and obviously you guys will see marketing and stuff about it once it’s done, we have decided, assuming we can close a couple loose ends here, to do some call center only services as well. And so that’ll specialize for Remote Management.

(50:04) So, for people that, you know, that either want to keep running their own operations and they don’t want to pay for full management, we’re gonna see if we can get that that off the ground. Because you know, one thing we’re hearing a lot more of now after our changed call center is how good it is. We get that all the time. In fact in ski Workshop, I was very surprised. We had a REIT, I don’t want to name which one, they were talking to us about it, and they said what problems they had with theirs and theirs and they’re a REIT. And so, we said, “How about you call ours, you know, just to see and we’ll show you what it is.” And they told us the next day they wanted their contact info, right, for how we did that. So, we’re getting that more and more.

(50:41) So man, if we could find a way to provide it to everybody else, reach out to me directly if you’re interested and hopefully, we’ll have some announcements officially here in the coming days or week. But man, if we can do that, that’s going to be really cool. And obviously CallPotential is an integral part of that, to be able to offer those and hopefully we can get thousands of stores. So, it’s exciting for sure.

[Holly Fiorello] (51:03) Thanks, Brett. That is wonderful. Yeah, and thank you everyone. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to myself, or Scott, or the onboarding team, and Brett as well. And we look forward to seeing everyone soon and hope you have a wonderful week. Thank you, Brett. Thank you so much for sharing and spending your time with us today.

[Brett Copper] (51:23) Holly, you’re awesome. Thank you so much Alyssa, great to see you, Scott. And I look forward to seeing you guys here soon.

            [Holly Fiorello] (51:29) Yeah, sounds great. Thank you, bye everybody.

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