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Finding the Right Hire for Your Self-Storage Business

2 Key Principles to Hire the Right Employee for Your Self-Storage Business

Tired of hiring the wrong fit for your self-storage operation? Guest blogger Howard Stewart of Stewart Search Inc. discusses two key hiring principles employers should follow when trying to identify an ideal candidate for their organization.

The long-term success or failure of any employee-recruitment effort is often based almost entirely on your adherence to certain known principles in hiring. Your success in finding just the right individual most often means following certain basic rules to reduce controllable elements of risk. Here are two key principles to follow:

1. Hire someone who meets the real job needs and background requirements.

Nine out of 10 job descriptions, while nice to have, don’t accurately address the key skill sets of the job. For example, if you hire a controller who comes from a background other than self-storage, your chances of it working out are less than 30 percent. Applicants outside the realm of self-storage operation just don’t understand the importance of things like accurate job-cost reporting.

For some storage operators, this doesn’t even touch the risk involved in hiring a controller who has never handled direct labor across multiple states, and doesn't understand all the requirements, relations/submittals, on-time billing, etc. Self-storage accounting is unique in many ways.

Another classic example is hiring a district manager from a large, brand-name organization, thinking he must be good if he worked out there. Nothing could be further from the truth. Organizations vary widely in how they are structured as well as the level and type of support surrounding each role. Ignoring this reality absolutely ensures an unnecessary risk.

2. Understand patterns and learn to respect them.

Each candidate has a distinct pattern in his or her career. A classic example might be employment durations like seven years at Job A, five years at Job B and three years at his present employer. Do you realistically think he’ll be a long-termer? At the same time, if he has a very long duration with his current employer—say 20 years—you have less than a 10 percent chance of him serving that long with you. Most will move on in two to three years.

Another common pattern to consider is in the applicant’s history of promotability. Study his career to see if promotions occurred with his current organization or if advancements came by changing employers.

Income history can be a good indicator of how he has performed with an organization. Look at his starting income as well as his present wage or salary. Even if employers don’t have an available position to advance a valuable employee, they often will make larger-than-usual salary adjustments in an effort to hold on to a real performer.

Howard Stewart is managing partner with Stewart Search Inc., an executive search firm. He is a national recruiter and headhunter specializing in self-storage, property management, real estate and construction. With more than 25 years of experience, the company has placed hundreds of qualified candidates on a national, regional and local basis. For more information, call 561.818.1007; e-mail [email protected]; visit

TAGS: Staffing
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