Five Steps to Running a Successful Self-Storage Operation
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
By: Brad North
Posted on: 02/20/2010



 

There are five vital steps a self-storage owner must take to bring his operation to the next level of profitability. If these areas are properly developed, your business will become the leader in the marketplace.   

1. Training

Once you have the right staff in place, provide ongoing training. Knowledge is power; the more your team knows about the business, the further you’ll go in your journey toward success.

Training will increase employees’ understanding of the operation, improve customer service, and maximize staff retention. Not only will training help managers feel enriched in their role, it will minimize burnout and frustration, creating a more productive work environment.

Whether you run a single- or multi-facility operation, training develops consistency while standardizing a higher level of service. As your customer service improves, so will the amount of referrals and repeat business. It’s time to step up your training program, improving the morale and efficiency within your organization.
 
2. Accountability

The next step is to create an atmosphere of accountability within your operation, establishing an understanding of key performance indicators among staff. Once benchmarks are in place, you’ll be able to make adjustments to improve the business. You can also set expectations of what is poor, average, good and exceptional performance.

Once your expectations have been communicated, find ways to reinforce them. You need an effective method to measure and track results, re-setting benchmarks as performance improves. While discipline is important, it’s also critical to motivate and reward employees, encouraging them to progress in key areas.
 
3. Sales

Next, develop and implement a sound, comprehensive program to improve sales. The manager is the most important asset to a self-storage business, and the phone is his most powerful tool. The right sales program will enable him to convert more callers and walk-in customers to renters, maximizing profitability.

It’s important to track and measure key elements of the sales program to enable ongoing improvement. It’s also critical to know how you compare with competition in your market. The goal is for managers to understand the differential advantages of your facility and use them to build value and trust with the customer. This will allow them to rent more units and improve the bottom line. When it comes to sales, again, ongoing training plays a key role.
 
4. Marketing

Once your sales program is solid, spend the time, money and energy to develop an effective marketing program. Remember: It’s critical to perfect your staff’s sales skills before you invest in this area. Unfortunately, most operators throw money at marketing to increase customer traffic without the appropriate sales effort to close the deal. This can be very unproductive and a waste of your precious marketing dollars.

When executed properly, your marketing program will create a steady stream of referrals into your facility. First, identify your target markets. By tracking and measuring your marketing efforts, it will become evident where to spend the majority of your resources.

Most storage operators are inconsistent with their marketing, never establishing a consistent program. There must be constancy and repetition within the marketing plan. Once achieved, it will work in harmony with an effective sales program and take the storage operation to greater heights.
 
5. Productivity

Finally, create an environment for higher productivity, as this will feed into all of the other steps. To develop consistency in key areas, you must reward excellent performance. This will bring more awareness and focus to these areas and help your staff stay motivated to make necessary changes.

This can be accomplished through goal-setting, incentives, contests and bonuses. Rewards should be monetary and, if a particular goal is achieved, each individual should be recognized for a job well done. In most cases, the recognition is just as important as the reward. Create a formal program to recognize high achievers, and they will reward you in kind.
 
Brad North is the founder of Advantage Consulting & Management, which specializes in self-storage management, feasibility, sales, marketing and operational training. He is a frequent contributor to industry publications and a nationally recognized speaker and consultant. For more information, call 678.491.7984; visit www.advantageconsultingmanagement.com

To learn more about manager training, take advantage of the comprehensive education program at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo. Click here for details.

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