The Last Word: Harry Sleighel, Chairman of Michaels Wilder

Posted by Harry Sleighel on Mar 25, 2024 9:33:09 AM

Many of us are seeking ways to bring in new revenue, but it’s so important to consider all aspects of those new ideas. Let’s talk about the growing trend of remote property management. One of the key features of remote/unmanned sites is the absence of on-site managers. Instead, they utilize kiosks and have daily, weekly, or on-call staff to ensure smooth operations. These operating practices can result in much lower operating expenses and other operating efficiencies as well.


In the next five years, having on-site staff to handle sales and customer service could be a thing of the past. Being economical and providing good service can be at odds with each other, based on the level of human involvement. As an owner, you know that customers will always have questions. Using technology to provide automatic responses or direct messaging with facility supervisors is one way to address their needs promptly. 


While these remote models work well under normal circumstances, a faulty kiosk or a gate that won’t operate can change the game immediately. How can the customer contact you? What’s the response time? How long does it take get the problem fixed? Who will ultimately have to deal with the frustrated, irate customer? Prompt attention and resolution of such incidents become essential to maintain customer satisfaction. 


There are other things to think about, such as windstorms, flooding, and common occurrences like damaged gates, burglarized units, and electrical outages, to name a few. These things can happen at any site. Steven Stein, chief executive at SafeLease, says, “A number of factors contribute to a facility’s risk of burglary, such as fencing, lighting, and neighborhood. We find that remote operations per se doesn’t contribute to burglary as much as amplify existing risk factors.” Ashley Earick, general manager of, says, “It is far easier to negotiate a settlement with a customer who has been communicated with in a timely manner, which also gives us a chance to possibly make a quicker, lower payout. The reverse is true with this, who are already mad at the lack communication regarding their claim.” 


Did you know that most physicians connected to multiple medical malpractice incidents all shared similar characteristics? Patients sue unempathetic doctors who don’t communicate openly and aren’t responsive/available. Earick adds, “Side by side, claims submitted from remote or unmanned sites are higher and there are more occurrences compared with the traditional storage locations we handle claims for.” 


While remote/unmanned models work well under most circumstances, prompt attention to and the resolution of any incident become essential for maintaining your reputation and, more importantly, customer satisfaction. 



Music Producer at, The Communicator's Award of Excellence Winner for Podcast Series and Features Branded Episode, Founder of Tenant Property Protection, 


Harry Sleighel is chairman Of Michaels Wilder, a Phoenix-based marketing and advertising firm with numerous self-storage clients. He is also a music producer at Radio Wilder. A veteran of the industry, Harry was recently featured in MSM's story Phoenix Rising: The Capital of Self-Storage.