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November Employee Spotlight: Ashley Burgener
Who on earth could follow the act provided by Dan’s employee spotlight last month? That’s what I wondered as I started thinking about this month’s spotlight. Thankfully, the random number generator chose someone who could give Dan a run for his money: Ashley Burgener.
Because Ashley is one of RNL’s account managers, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with her since day one. The writers produce content for her clients’ websites, so naturally we work together pretty regularly. One thing I’ve always noticed about Ashley is how eager she is to make our clients happy. In fact, she’s well known around the office for her level of dedication, and her bio page proudly boasts that she’s even launched websites from the hospital delivery room!
You’d think she’s an intense person, yes? Perhaps she is intensely dedicated, but anytime you run into her around the office she’s cheerful, bubbly, and happy to see you. Whether she’s bringing in treats for the entire office or lighting up the operations room with giggles, Ashley is far from a “bare minimum” kind of lady. Take a look at what her supervisor, Alyssa, had to say about her:
Preparing myself for plenty of laughs, I sat down with Ashley. Check out our interview below!
Amy: Are you ready?
Ashley: I’m ready!
Amy: The first thing that I thought was interesting from your bio is you’re a country girl. What is country life like for you?
Ashley: It’s very relaxing. I actually went to my hometown this weekend. It’s interesting to go from the hustle and bustle of the city to the one-lane, gravel road highway. The country is just very quiet, peaceful, sweet, and simple. Other times it can be kinda hectic with the all responsibilities you have.
Amy: Do you like getting your kids away from the city every now and then?
Ashley: I do. It’s fun to let them see that side of life and to let them play in the mud and dirt.
Amy: It sounds more laid back. You grew up in Marceline, Missouri. How big is that town?
Ashley: It’s pretty small. I would have to guess it’s 2,500 people, if that. It’s actually where Walt Disney grew up. Walt Disney first came to Marceline by train when he was five years old. We have Main Street USA, which is like the Main Street USA in Disney World. We also have his old house and our elementary school is called Walt Disney Elementary. Interesting fact: Walt donated playground equipment to the new Marceline school and also gave them a flagpole that was used to fly flags over the 1960 Winter Olympic games in Squaw Valley, California. He also gave the school an official Disneyland flag to fly, making Walt Disney Elementary the only place outside of Disneyland authorized to fly the Disneyland flag.
Amy: Wow, I didn’t know that! That’s awesome. What was it like growing up there?
Ashley: Everyone knows everyone.
Amy: Do you like that?
Ashley: At times I do. Now that I’ve moved away, it’s nice to be able go to the grocery store without any makeup. No one sees you or talks about how you didn’t have makeup on or how you were in your PJs. It’s definitely a change. It was good growing up in a small town just because you learned that you can trust everyone, whereas down in the city you have to watch yourself sometimes. Living in a small town is kind of like having a family of 1,000 people. When something tragic happens, you feel the love from every single person, and when something great happens, you'll probably be in the newspaper!
Amy: When did you move to the Kansas City area?
Ashley: I moved to Smithville ten years ago.
Amy: And you were in Marceline until then?
Amy: Wow. What were some of the most difficult parts of that transition from gravel road to Kansas City?
Ashley: Probably missing my family was the most difficult part. The majority of my family still lives in Marceline. Being independent and on my own was different. My phone bill was outrageous the first month just because of all the phone calls home.
Amy: Aww, calling mom.
Ashley: All the time! My siblings and I have pretty close relationships, so before I moved I talked to them daily. That was a big change. But it was a good transition. I would do it again if I had to.
Amy: Yeah? That’s good. Do you try to live the country life in Smithville?
Ashley: I do. It’s definitely a suburb of Kansas City. Eventually we’d like to get a house with more acres so that we can ride 4-wheelers and give the kids more room to run and experience that freedom.
Amy: What kind of hobbies do you have out there with the kids? I heard you like DIY projects and baking?
Ashley: I do love Pinterest! Pinterest is my guilty pleasure. I do like to try to bake sometimes.
Amy: You’ve baked some things for the office, which is always delicious.
Ashley: Yeah, I bring it in if it turns out good. I also love to make gifts for the kids’ schools. Valentine’s Day and stuff like that.
Amy: Aww. You’re the cool mom.
Ashley: I try to be! For now at least, until they become teenagers.
Amy: No one can be the cool mom once the kids become teenagers. That’s funny. What’s been one of your favorite Pinterest projects that you’ve taken on?
Ashley: Hmm, let’s see. I’m trying to think of one that I’ve actually completed because I’ve pinned so many! I have not mastered it but I would love to learn how to sew. I actually have a sewing machine and I can’t even thread it. It’s hard to do.
Amy: It looks hard.
Ashley: Yeah, I would love to sew. But as for projects I’ve completed… I’ve done a lot of the baking ones. I hate to eat the same thing every week for supper, so I love to try making new things. Even though sometimes my husband doesn’t eat it!
Amy: Well, that’s a good transition. You have a husband named Jason. You have two kids, Ryleigh and Jase. I think it was my first summer here when we threw a baby shower for you and Jase. What do you enjoy most about being a mom?
Ashley: That’s a hard one because I really enjoy everything. It can be extremely stressful and chaotic but even in its worst moments, motherhood is the one job that is always surrounded in love. Lots and lots of love. Many hugs and tickles and smiles and tears all wrapped in pure unconditional everlasting love. I would say overall it’s just an experience that you’ll never forget and I don’t want to take it for granted.
Amy: That’s good to hear. You’re not worn out yet! Do you think you’ll have anymore children?
Ashley: I think we’re finished.
Amy: Oh yeah? Two is a good number.
Ashley: Two’s a good number. A boy and a girl. So I think we’re finished.
Amy: How long have you and Jason been together?
Ashley: We were high school sweethearts and we both grew up in Marceline. We got married in 2007 and we’ve lived in Smithville since then.
Amy: Wow. So you’re coming up on ten years.
Ashley: Yeah! Hopefully we can do something fun. I’ve been planning our travel trips on Pinterest.
Amy: Good idea, good idea. What’s a fun memory that you have to share about Jason?
Ashley: Let’s see. His dad’s house used to be one of the party houses in high school. The first time we met, I went with one of my girlfriends and saw Jason sitting on the deep freezer. He always says he remembers me because I had overalls on, which is embarrassing, and curly hair. I feel bad because I don’t remember what he was wearing!
Amy: You’re like, “Can you remember me a different way?”
Ashley: I know! I don’t know why I was wearing overalls. That’s embarrassing.
Amy: It sounds super cute. Country life with the short, curly hair and the overalls.
Ashley: Oh god. I don’t know why though. But yeah, that’s one of the memories I remember the most: when we first met. And then we started talking after that.
Amy: And the rest is history. So, switching gears, you’ve been at RNL since January 2012. That means you’re coming up on four years, which is crazy. Have you been an account manager the entire time you’ve been here?
Ashley: I have not. I started out doing maps and did that for a year. Then Alyssa trained me on being an account manager for our new product, marketing websites for the self storage industry.
Amy: So you’ve been an account manager for almost three full years then?
Amy: Great job! What do you enjoy most about being an account manager?
Ashley: I just love talking to the clients. Clients have to trust that their account manager has their best interests at heart. I can encourage that trust by nurturing the relationships and going the extra mile for them, being open, honest, and consistent over time. The best satisfaction I can get is “you rock!” and “you’re the best!” from them. That just makes my self confidence multiply by ten.
Amy: Aww. You think, “Okay, I can do this!”
Ashley: Yeah, exactly. So just talking to them and talking through their problems is probably my favorite thing to do. Problem solving.
Amy: You’re currently our eighth most senior employee.
Ashley: Oh my gosh!
Amy: Yep, I went and counted it. You’re number eight!
Ashley: I didn’t know that!
Amy: You’ve seen RNL change a lot over the years. How would you explain that change from where we started to where we are now?
Ashley: Change is always scary for me, but it’s also good. I think we’ve changed for the better. When we first started, there were a lot of projects going on at once, so it was hard to put your finger on what we were doing. Now that we’ve evolved to just one platform, I feel like it’s a better environment for everybody.
Amy: I can see that. You have a reputation around here for being super dedicated to the clients, offering some of the best support in the industry, and even launching websites from the hospital delivery room!
Ashley: Thank god for the epidural.
Amy: You said to me just last week that the marketing suite platform amazes you. How so?
Ashley: I love seeing how our websites benefit our clients, from the larger guys that Katelyn manages to the smaller guys with 100 units or less. To give both of them an opportunity to compete with the big chains is great to see. It also amazes me how so many teams at RNL, from SEO to marketing to content, help launch the websites.
Amy: That’s true. What’s been one of your most memorable client experiences?
Ashley: I can tell you one just from today. So, we don’t handle people’s email support, but for some reason people get so upset when they find out that we handle their website and not their email accounts. I helped this lady set up her email today, getting her Gmail onto Outlook. It’s something that I’m probably not supposed to do, but she was so thankful and, in the end, she is adding another facility to her site with us. I think customer support goes a long way if you just help them talk through the issue.
Amy: Oh, cool. I feel like that’s something I’ve seen a lot: A customer will sign up with one facility. Then after they’ve had some good experiences with us, they’ll add some more.
Ashley: It’s as if they think, “Oh, they are good!” I definitely like diving in and finding out what’s wrong and see if we can fix it some way. If not, I’ll definitely pass it on to someone who can.
Amy: Right. Well, since you are one of the people who interacts with clients the most, you have some good experiences and some not good experiences. A lot of times it’s not really anything you did wrong and you’re just getting the brunt of someone’s frustration. How do you deal with that?
Ashley: I just have to put myself in their shoes. For example, if my email was down and that was a main part of my business, I would be upset, too. Just like when I go to the store and I can’t return something: I get upset. So you have to put yourself in their shoes to figure it out. I really just try to talk through it with them and let them know that I do care. Most people will say, “Yes, I understand your frustrations, we’ll try to work on it, etc.,” but then they just push the customer back to another number. That’s why I always let the customers know that I will be the one working on their issues and that I will follow up with a constant effort to try and get their problem solved.
Amy: You’re more proactive rather than shaking them off.
Amy: I bet they appreciate that even in the times when you can’t fix the problem for them. They like your attitude.
Ashley: Yeah, I listen to them as best as I can.
Amy: Well, I wrote for the last part of my notes that it’s funny how little I know about you considering we interact all the time with client launches. What other hobbies do you have?
Ashley: Well, my hobbies are mostly my kids. They take up the majority of my time. But something you wouldn’t know about me is that I love to shop online.
Amy: What do you shop for?
Ashley: Everything! I love to shop online. I love clothes, both for myself and for my kids.
Amy: Oh, yeah. I bet that made it worse once you had kids. Now you’ve got a boy and a girl!
Ashley: I know! Especially the girl. Girls are so easy to buy for. Another thing most people don’t know is that I actually went to massage therapy school.
Amy: Really? I didn’t know that.
Ashley: I did. I got my degree but i just never went and got certified. I even have a massage therapy table at home.
Amy: Whoa! Do you think you would ever get your certification?
Ashley: I want to someday. Before I graduated my dream was to work on a cruise ship.
Ashley: I don’t know why I thought that was going to happen. Eventually I would love to get my certification just to have it. It would be a nice side job to have, just to make some extra money here and there.
Amy: Yeah, that’s really cool. So you are just destined to help people in one way or another.
Ashley: I guess! Though there were so many awkward interactions at that school.
Amy: Oh, yes! What’s your best story?
Ashley: It’s just so awkward! Trying to massage someone’s upper legs. It was the most awkward situation I’ve ever been in.
Amy: Did you try to talk to them? Or did you just let it be awkward silence?
Ashley: Oh, quiet awkwardness.
Amy: I would just start laughing. So I’ve never had a massage, but I’ve always wondered what they’re thinking about when they’re giving you a massage.
Ashley: You’re trying not to think gross thoughts, so you’re like “just get it over with already.”
Amy: Oh that’s so funny. What else do you want everyone at RNL to know about you?
Ashley: Nothing! (laughs) Let’s see. I’m just very passionate about my job, my family, and my friends. I really, truly care about each one of them on a different level.
Amy: Cool. Well, how about for a finishing note: What’s your favorite part about working at RNL?
Ashley: My favorite part is probably my coworkers. You spend 40+ hours with them and they become your family. I spend more time with them than I do with my kids! So the people and the atmosphere matter. It’s just an overall fun place to work.
Amy: Well, great! You just hit it all out of the park!