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Good Old-fashioned Relationship-Building

Jun 14, 2013

We can believe that we know where the world should go. But unless we're in touch with our customers, our model of the world can diverge from reality. There's no substitute for innovation, of course, but innovation is no substitute for being in touch, either.”

                -Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft

Advice from the head of a multi-billion dollar company is usually worth noting, and I think it applies to self storage, too. I’ve often mentioned how vital it is to stay on top of evolving technologies, and that’s never been more important than now. The ever-expanding role of hand-held devices and social media is changing the way we connect with friends, family and customers.                        

But balancing technology with old-fashioned relationship-building is something we all must deal with in today’s world. No matter how state-of-the-art your social media skills are and no matter how advanced you are with the technical aspects of managing your facility, there is no substitute for interacting with people in real time, face-to-face.

My own experience bears this out. We recently changed our web development company from one in Chicago to Gray Digital Group in San Antonio. And we’re currently underway with a project that entails making design changes to the TSSA website and adding some great new features. It’s obvious that you can use a web development company anywhere in the country--or the world, for that matter--but when searching for a new company to work with, I felt compelled to find one that not only met all of our important criteria, but was also close enough to visit with in person, if needed.

As the project began to get underway, Gray Digital Group suggested that I make the relatively short drive to San Antonio to meet with them in person. As their information technology officer Richard Baugh said, “We’ll be able to cover much more ground, and the discussion is much more fluid than sending e-mails back and forth or sharing screens.”

He was right.

At our meeting, ideas, thoughts and strategies flowed in a dynamic fashion that is only possible when people interact together. And as I continue to build a stronger relationship, I realize just how important it is to be able to communicate with them on all levels—not just by phone, sharing computer screens, or e-mail.

That’s why I urge TSSA members to take part in all of our offerings—not only our webinars and podcasts, but our regional luncheons, our Executive Retreat, legal seminars, and of course the Big Ideas in Self Storage annual conference (set this year for October 27-29 at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center).

Texting is ultra-convenient. E-mail is essential. Social media is here it stay. Facebook is great—there’s no doubt it’s a “game-changer.”                            

But for really connecting, there’s no substitute for face-to-face.

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