Make Your Operations As Simple As They Appear To Be!

I must be completely honest here – a couple years ago, I would have likely guessed that the business operations of a storage company were relatively simple. How much could there really be to it?

Then I started working for Mercantile Systems, Inc (MSI). My introduction to storage companies was on the customer service side. The selling process alone was eye-opening! I was completely impressed by the step-by-step service that storage companies have a unique lock on. Unlike most industries, the storage industry selling technique has been in place for years and is perfected to a T. It truly is amazing to see it in action during mystery shops – when utilized correctly. However, all too often, employees deviate from the regimented process, resulting in a potential loss of sales, which is why mystery shopping is an imperative accountability tool for these companies.

A few months later, I received a crash course in the behind the scenes operations of storage companies. WOW! I was honestly blown away by how much internal procedures and policies must be in place. I fully admit my ignorance and apologize for simplifying the industry. You have so much to keep an eye on and I applaud you all for managing to make it look so easy.

I recently reviewed a customized Internal Audit (IA), AKA Site Audit or Back-of-Office Audit, that MSI carefully put together for one of our storage clients. Over 60 site-specific questions, many of which required detailed answers for different leases, units, and actionable items. From security to locking past due units to cleanliness to merchandise to maintenance. For managing one location, the amount that goes into it is amazing. For managing multiple locations, it must get overwhelming at times.

With a huge number of locations to maintain, the client whose Back-of-House Audit I was reviewing wisely talked to an MSI consultant about simplifying their IA processes. Working with us, they were able to create an audit designed by and for their specific industry. We took their specific concerns into consideration and used our Cloud-Based Internal Audit System to cut their costs and minimize the time and effort previously spent on the processes.

MSI has the ability to take your needs and simplify them. Complete the audits offline on a mobile device and upload it into the system when you are connected online. Take photos and videos for visual documentation. Then, sit back and let our system do the calculations and analysis for you. MSI’s IA System can track and trend the data from hundreds of locations over any period of time you desire. See how certain locations decreased or increased productivity over several years. Monitor how specific employees are performing at different times.

Make managing a storage company almost as easy as I originally thought it was! Let our Cloud-Based System do the work and provide improved reports. Contact an MSI consultant today and find out how we can simplify your IA (or Back-of-Office) audits for you.

Keep Kicking, But Do It More Efficiently!

There is a commonly held belief that while ducks appear to sit calmly atop the water, their feet paddle continuously to keep them afloat. It has become a metaphor for those who appear to have it all together while under the surface they are working harder than anyone can see. Turns out, however, that is not completely correct. When in a calm body of water, ducks can remain buoyant without paddling their feet. Due to hollow bones and air sacs within their bodies, ducks weigh less than the weight of the water they displace. They also secrete an oil that prevents their feathers from absorbing water, which keeps their body mass from increasing and causing them to drown.

Duck feet are only working hard when they are attempting to move forward or are working to fight against a strong current to stay in place. They enjoy the flow when things are easy, conserving their energy and not wasting time kicking when there is no current to fight against. Then, when the current gets tough, the ducks do not lose their cool on the surface, they simply start paddling away while making it seem seamless.

Do you ever feel that you are trying to run your business like a duck, appearing calm on the surface while kicking your feet like crazy under the surface? MSI can help you kick less while achieving more progress!

Less than six months ago, many businesses were simply floating along the surface, enjoying the calm waters. Why bother kicking against a current that was not there? Why work hard for progress when the going is easy, the waters are calm. But then came the tidal wave of COVID-19 crashing down on all of us, everyone was impacted, there was no fighting it. Business “ducks” everywhere were just waiting to see where they landed. Now the waters are starting to seem calmer, but the currents underneath are stronger than we have ever felt before. Now is the time those duck feet need to be kicking furiously.

Let’s face it – the currents are not going to calm down any time soon. To maintain a calm appearance on the surface, however, you must make sure that you have control of everything happening behind the scenes. Internal Audits (IAs) – also known as back-of-house or brand quality audits – can be an invaluable tool for monitoring how effectively your businesses “feet” are kicking.

MSI has used the enforced hibernation to complete our own IAs to evaluate every aspect of our business. From operations to expenses to marketing. Employee satisfaction and safety has been analyzed. The industry focus has been debated. Even when nothing was visible on the surface, MSI’s little duck feet have been furiously kicking away to make sure the business comes back stronger – and we can do the same for you!

We will help you to minimize the effort involved in completing efficient and effective IAs. MSI has the systems in place to make Internal Audits easier than ever. We can reduce the money, frustration, and time spent, giving you the chance to immediately adapt based on the data we collect and securely house for you.

We can help you to not only fight the current but beat it! Contact an MSI consultant today.

How Managers Can Achieve Above and Beyond Results with Half the Effort

As a manager, there will be a few pivotal moments in your career when the higher ups or executives at your company will expect you to present and report on ongoing operations and your employees’ performance.  They might request data on cash handling, security, compliance, training, policy adherence, and more. When it comes time to aggregate this data, analyze it, and offer insights you are likely going to fall into one of two scenarios:

Scenario One: You spend hours on top of hours collecting the requested data. Then you spend even more time compiling the data into a spreadsheet, struggling through the exhausting numbers and seemingly endless equations. Finally, you have managed to create a comprehensive report and you take your findings to the executive team to present on exactly what your boss has requested. You outline the company’s operational status while reviewing an Excel spreadsheet filled with black and white numbers. Without any engaging visuals or captivating commentary, you give what is asked of you, but there is no “wow” factor. You are comfortable letting the executive team draw their own conclusions about what that information means, and you do not go out of your way to offer any actionable insights or solutions.

Scenario Two: Your data is already good to go. There is no need to spend countless hours aggregating a report, because all your relevant KPIs have already been collected, housed, and organized by an automated system. You can now break down your data by rank, location, employee, or a combination of these factors and more. When you came across a discrepancy or something noteworthy, you had already used your mobile device to upload a relevant photo and or video to be safely secured alongside the associated data. Now, you can spend all that time you saved on creating a meaningful presentation that offers valuable insights and recommendations. In this scenario, you win over your bosses and showcase your management ability, by giving actionable insights based in data. In scenario two, your company went with Mercantile Systems

If you want to provide above and beyond results without above and beyond effort, let me tell you about MSI’s proprietary and Cloud-Based Internal Audit System. This is a one-stop management tool that will save you time, effort, and money. It will also act as an accountability tool to better measure your operational efficiency and employee performance. No longer will you have to painfully compare multiple spreadsheets with different formats, our proprietary system makes it easy.

Afraid that collecting this data will be difficult? Nope. We will partner with you to create a simple and streamlined program that will allow you or your employees to input data on any device, at any time. Internet crash? Not a problem, the data will be stored locally on your device and then uploaded to the Cloud when your connection returns. We allow you to take and upload as many photos and/or videos as you want, to give an added layer of detail when conducting back of house checks or internal audits. With MSI’s system, your data is at your fingertips – it is incredibly easy to access and organize in any way you see fit. We also have a variety of automated reports available to you at any time.

The only question left is – What are you waiting for? Contact an MSI consultant today to learn more about our Cloud-Based Internal Audit System. We are eager to discuss your specific situation and ready to customize a program that will best fit your needs.

Why Internal Audits Are More Important Than Ever After COVID-19

As businesses are able to begin reopening across the country and people are allowed to roam more freely again, there will be a period of consistent change while new policies and practices need to be implemented. Though isolation may be coming to an end, social distancing is predicted to be a normal part of life for an unknown time frame in the coming months. This means businesses must find a way to adhere to social distancing policies where none were previously in place. However, what those policies will exactly be is uncertain.

That is why internal audits (also known as back of house audits) are more important than ever. Some businesses may take a wait and see approach to COVID compliance, but that would be a mistake. If you are planning on opening your doors during this transition period, making sure that your business remains compliant with ever-changing requirements will be a key component for success. Avoid being hit with costly fines, fees, and in some cases the possibility of losing your liquor or business license.

Let us look at face masks as an example. When COVID-19 first started spreading in the United States, experts were quick to assure the public that face masks should only be worn in public by those experiencing symptoms. Many scientific articles advised that using face masks could cause more harm than good because the virus particles could live on the mask surfaces and potentially infect you and others up to three days later. Slowly, those guidelines changed, suggesting that essential workers and anyone at high risk should wear face masks. More recently, the same experts provided research that showed that face masks should be worn by anyone going out to any public areas, maybe even goggles now? The point is, things are rapidly changing, and your business needs to be ready to adapt.

Applying this example back to reopening a business, shows that there will be operational challenges ahead. If your company decided not to require face masks at the start of reopening, where do you stand on that policy now? If your employees, or your customers are demanding these things is your management team ready to meet these needs? Let us say you have reacted perfectly, following all guidelines, and implementing new policies as circumstances change. What if your employees do not agree? Do you have any systems in place to verify which branches or locations of your business are following corporate policies? Will your managers hold them accountable?

As a country, we can safely assume that more information will come to light about how COVID-19 works, and the best practices to protect against it. Businesses must be able to consistently change their policies and practices and verify that these policies are being adhered to. Internal audits are extremely valuable in this regard. They are a tool for tracking if your businesses operational policies are being appropriately followed and implemented effectively. Do you have a system in place to do this efficiently? You might, many of our clients have some form of system in place. However, Mercantile’s proprietary and cloud-based internal audit system makes this process easy. We track and trend your data for you, secure it privately, and allow you to upload photos, videos, and any other attachments to these audits via your tablet, computer, or mobile device.

If you would like more information on internal audits and how they can benefit your business during this time, please contact us. We are happy to help guide your team through the reopening process to make sure your operations are running smoothly & more importantly safely.


By: Kim Evans – MSI Staff