The unmanned model for self-storage sites brings up questions: Are owners of such facilities worried about theft and vandalism, and about frustrating customers that can’t find help behind a desk?
The leaders at Red Dot Storage in Louisville, CO, answer with a resounding “no.” The unmanned model has worked well for the 2013 startup, which now has 147 locations spread around 16 central states as well as ambitious plans to eventually expand from coast to coast. The company employs 98 people, with some in the home office and others out in the field.
The company relies heavily on people’s willingness to use tech tools to manage their dealings with Red Dot.
“Yes, we understand the benefit of operating efficiencies, but how do we maximize the resources available to enhance the customer experience? We look to technology,” said Seth Bent, founder and former CEO who has transitioned into a chief strategy officer role.
Tech forward storage
Chuck James, 53, recently was promoted from president/COO to CEO. He believes the Red Dot approach provides consistency to the customer, and “they are very comfortable with it because the tech we use is the same tech that our customers use in their daily lives, for example, printing a boarding pass. They’re used to working with kiosks, mobile apps and websites.”
James added that customers always can contact a service employee, with information posted about how to do so at each facility. Also, company personnel frequently visit the facilities.
“With the call center, chat, email, text message – all those points of contact – our customers have the ability to interact with a person with far more coverage than any onsite manager could provide,” Bent said.
Red Dot also has realized better overall and financial results after acquisitions, James said, noting that “all climb dramatically once we implement our operating model.”
Bent, 41, has left the CEO position, saying, “I’m an entrepreneur at heart, with a particular focus on strategy and big-picture vision. Managing the details and the day-to-day office is not my strong suit.”
James said moving to CEO doesn’t change much of what he’s been doing. “There are a certain number of outward relationships that I’m involved with now,” he said. “But internally, that didn’t change much at all.”
Bent praised James for doing “some incredible things to grow business, improve the operation, and he has a firm grasp on our company culture.”
Both foster a positive company culture, giving employees the opportunity to contribute ideas to improve Red Dot.
At a company meeting, one employee asked why the company spent so much on access control systems. The group brainstormed possible solutions. One worker said they could build a Red Dot-owned access control system that would cost just 10 percent of what the company currently pays.
So the company invested in the project and employees built a new control access system that’s fully contained in the keypad and works at every Red Dot facility.
“My management style is that people matter most,” Bent said. “So I want to create an environment where people can really thrive. Find smart, capable, motivated people, give them the resources they need to be successful, then get out of their way.”
James said it’s key to unlock the value in every employee, customer and company facility. “Our job is to get out of the way and reveal it,” he said. “We don’t treat a customer service agent any different than an executive.”
The Denver Post named Red Dot Storage a 2018 Top Workplaces winner. Red Dot also was ranked 16th on Entrepreneur’s Top Company Cultures list of midsized companies.
In addition, Comparably ranked Red Dot Storage on two of its Best Company lists: Best Company Culture and Best Companies for women.