Members of the Extra Space Storage marketing team meet at corporate headquarters

Looking Back at 2018: Another Year of Excellence for Extra Space Storage

Though 2019 is full steam ahead for Extra Space Storage, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments and organizational growth we experienced in 2018. In their own words, six senior Extra Space Storage leaders share the projects, positive team changes, and innovative thinking that helped our company see success last year—and they offer a brief glimpse with where we’re headed this year!

James Hafen, Vice President of Product Development

Extra Space Storage's James Hafen, Vice President of Product Development

Looking Back at 2018

2018 was remarkable in that the Product Development team became a reality, something that was as symbolic as it was materially meaningful. It represents the progressive leadership at Extra Space Storage that realizes transformation is a priority, not an afterthought. It’s a continuation of the innovative, technology-forward culture that has pushed Extra Space Storage for over two decades now, a continuation of the commitment the company has made to being a digital leader.

Product development as a dedicated concern orients Extra Space Storage as a technology company in our thinking about innovation and transformation and aligns us organizationally so that we are better structured to behave, react, and lead in an era of continual disruption and skyrocketing customer expectations. Our core business is fundamentally sound. Some might say that the company was “doing just fine, thank you, don’t fix what’s not broken,” but complacency hasn’t been in Extra Space Storage’s vocabulary in the past, and this aggressive move is a signal that we are just getting started.

Product development in 2018 was about establishing some fundamental processes, understanding the business, building a core team, and defining strategy. While several enormous products are still in the works and will implement throughout 2019, additional enabling technologies are in the pipeline creating the potential to raise the bar on customer experience.

Looking Forward to 2019

Research and development projects are underway to start pushing aggressively on new door locks and access control technology that will create value for Extra Space Storage and our tenants far beyond the simple commoditized act of locking and unlocking units. We will explore the Internet of Everything at properties here local to our offices that will help us understand where value exists in automation, monitoring, security…the list goes on and on.

It’s hard to choose just one area to be excited about because the core of what we’re trying to accomplish is a holistic transformation—an ecosystem of data, systems, and automation that works in concert to make Extra Space Storage efficient, agile, responsive, and in tune with customer expectations.

Noah Springer, Senior Vice President of Asset & Third-Party Management

Noah Springer, Senior VP of Third Party Management with Extra Space Storage

Looking Back at 2018

2018 was a big year for Management Plus because we celebrated our ten-year anniversary since launching our Third-Party Management Platform. Not only have we been doing this for ten years, but shortly after launching, we grew to the largest third-party management platform in the industry and have won the industry award for best management company for seven years in a row.

In addition to our ten-year anniversary, our team brought on the 500th managed store this summer. This has never been done in the industry—a big accomplishment!

Looking Forward to 2019

One of our big initiatives this year is to bring all the third-party owner point of contact into our team. We have built out a great owner services team made up of very experienced District Managers and industry professionals. If it goes as planned, this initiative will allow our third-party owners to have better service faster and more complete answers in respect to their properties, allowing our District Managers to focus on getting more rentals.

Scott Hansen, Senior Director of Revenue Management

Extra Space Storage's Scott Hansen, Senior Director of Revenue Management

Looking Back at 2018

At Extra Space Storage, we have a healthy culture of innovation and testing; we constantly challenge ourselves to improve upon the previous year’s financial performance. 2018 was a great year for our team. We tested and scaled multiple pricing enhancements that drive more rentals, generate more revenue, and bring additional operational efficiency to our teams.

Each of these efforts can be traced back to an individual employee idea. It’s great that employees can grow these ideas from an opportunity in their mind to an enhancement to our company pricing strategy. In addition to the job satisfaction and engagement this helps drive, these efforts also keep our company well ahead of our competition.

Looking Forward to 2019

2019 will have plenty of innovation and testing, all with the goal of providing industry-leading performance. In all tests, we either succeed in providing additional revenue growth, or we learn what does not work. In either case, we increase our knowledge and expertise, and the culture at Extra Space Storage is to always get better.

I’m also excited about our growth. Within the storage industry, all the top players combined make up less than 25% of the overall market. The storage industry is wide open for consolidation, and I know Extra Space Storage is in a great position to grow. Smaller owner/operators are more often realizing they’re better off letting Extra Space Storage run their operations, taking advantage of our people, systems, and brand. Bringing in more locations allows us to test at a larger scale and learn at a faster pace, both of which are always highly desirable.

Jason Stewart, Senior Director of the National Sales Center

Looking Back at 2018

We had a fantastic year! We increased our conversions year over year and produced more rentals than ever before while delivering on our commitment to answering calls in 30 seconds or less. However, KPIs aren’t the only measure of excellence. I’m very proud of our team for delivering top-notch service on every call.

Several agents were promoted this year to various positions at the call center, including Team Lead, as well as jobs at the corporate level. Their demonstrated excellence across the board helped them to be recognized and ready for the next step. We have an engaged team that genuinely cares. They care about achieving our goals, about delivering excellent CX, and about making Extra Space Storage and the National Sales Center (NSC) a great place to work.

Nothing stays the same at Extra Space Storage, especially not at the NSC. Having a great team allowed us to make several exciting changes in 2018. We made several updates to the NSC app that simplified agents’ responsibilities, and we made it faster and easier for customers to conduct business with us. Our new scheduling system is saving us time, money, and giving us more flexibility in scheduling than in the past.

We implemented several new technologies, including a voice analytics system that leverages AI and machine learning to more effectively drive customer experience, optimization, sales effectiveness, and reduce risk. We also tested new pricing and promotions this year, including call routing that led to a 7% increase in conversion for test sites.

Looking Forward to 2019

We implemented several new technologies last year that will have a significant impact on our daily operations and our results. To support those, we’ve created several new positions to help ensure that those new technologies are fully functional and helping us achieve our goals. With these changes, we’re equipped to do more than we’ve ever been able to do in the past. It’s also making us rethink several of our existing standard operating procedures and best practices. We’re thinking outside the box and looking at things from a fresh perspective.

People do business with people. I’m thrilled to work with such a strong, dedicated group, all working toward the same goals. They make me excited to come to work every morning.

Brooke Stencil, Director of Digital Marketing

Extra Space Storage's Brooke Stencil, Director of Digital Marketing

Looking Back at 2018

The marketing department was very focused on digital innovation and being customer-focused. We’ve spent a lot of time identifying and removing customer pain points in the customer journey across all channels. We believe the more relevant and easy our shopping experience is, the more we’ll be able to drive conversion rates. This includes everything from providing multiple channels for customers to interact (web, click to chat, call) to making each page on our website easy and fast to navigate and digest.

The marketing team makes data-driven decisions to improve customer experience. One example of how we did that last year was recognizing how customers use the filters on the website. The team tested putting the top used filters directly on the page (instead of hidden behind the filters button) to make narrowing the options down easier. It had a positive impact on conversion rate and has encouraged an iterative test to simplify the experience further.

Looking Forward to 2019

We’re looking forward to testing new digital platforms and ensuring the process to find storage is simple and fast. We know often times our customers are going through life transitions, so we’re looking for ways to make the search for the right storage space easier. We also know hearing from our customers is the most important piece of feedback we can receive, so we’ll be putting a heavier emphasis on our reviews programs and the responses we provide.

Kate Satuala, Director of Brand & Customer Experience

Looking Back at 2018

The Brand and Creative Services Team worked hard in 2018 to educate, promote, and provide solutions to brand needs to grow consistency and value in the EXR brand. We did this in three ways: creating foundational processes that built consistencies over time, elevating the brand with key departments to drive business, and garnering excitement and energy to ensure brand buy-in.

To start our plan, we created a company compass featuring the three core areas of our culture with surrounding actions and values. Once the compass was completed, we were able to create a culture guide that was rolled out company-wide. After these initial foundational pieces were put in place, we focused on one area of the company compass: the image. Our stores tend to be sales and customer-focused without realizing that our image—how we portray ourselves—is key to the customer experience, impression we leave, and likelihood of a customer staying, coming back, or recommending us.

We then created a video series focused on what image is and what actions we can take to enhance our image. It had a humorous, fun, and relatable tone, taking everyday occurrences like dating, taking pictures, first impressions, and bloopers in the field and putting them in a metaphorical, relatable context to our business. The videos were the biggest success our team has had in the field, garnering over 2,200 internal views with high engagement of over 50 comments and 55 likes each. No other internal Extra Space Storage video has reached that level without being a required training.

We also created an image actions checklist and associated brand playbook to help the field understand our standards and have an easy reference point. To complete this plan, we rolled out an interactive game highlighting pieces from the checklist and playbook using the “spot the difference” idea. The game included a series of pictures showcasing the same scenario with slight differences that would make one of the pictures correct and one incorrect. At the end of each question, the game would describe why they got the question right or wrong before they could move forward in order to better train the field. We had over 1,500 participants in the contest with great buy-in and response from the field.

Due to these efforts, we met all three of our objectives for the year and found fun, creative ways for other departments to garner excitement in the field.

Looking Forward to 2019

In 2019, we plan to focus on integrating solutions based on 2018 customer findings of facility standards and customer service. We also plan to conduct in-depth customer research to assist in marketing, innovation, and customer experience, as well as work to elevate our reputation and become more relevant across major customer touchpoints. The research conducted will help direct new product efforts, messaging, and targeting as we continue with brand and customer experience efforts in 2019.

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We appreciate the hard work, positive attitude, and innovative thinking everyone within Extra Space Storage brought to 2018. We look forward to all of the new projects we have in the works for this year, and we can’t wait to reflect back on our 2019 accomplishments next year!

Looking Back at 2018: Another Year of Excellence for Extra Space Storage via @extraspace