What Is a Self-Storage Manager?, Part 2
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
By: Gina Kudo
Posted on: 04/13/2011



 

In my last blog, I defined a manager as a human being. So now let’s determine the impact of the person who holds the title of manager.

A manager is charged with overseeing a project, pieces of a project and, possibly, other people. That’s simple enough, but we all know there’s more involved. A manager wears all types of hats when operating a storage facility. They are counselor and consoler to tenants facing life’s problems. They are storage professionals, consultants who know and represent their product to a high level of customer interaction and satisfaction. They are janitors, repair people, gardeners, security personnel and more.

There is, of course, the other side of the title of manager. The responsibilities the title denotes the manager has to ownership. While the responsibilities are varied and as unique as each property, we can make some unilateral presumptions. A manager is the responsible party at the facility level. The manager is charged with following policy and procedure as set forth by ownership. A manager is also charged with representing the company in a positive and professional manner. A manager, even if there is discord with ownership, should never let the customer know there’s a problem.

The site manager is also responsible for marketing the facility in the best ways possible, to portray the public persona of the company. In this regard, it’s up to the individual manager to do the best job he can, and to seek education and stay on top of industry hot topics, news, legal changes and more. A savvy owner will support this type of knowledge with staff and all will succeed.

In the last blog, I shared with you a story of an owner with a bad attitude. This time, it’s managers who will take the heat. As with the aforementioned owner, the guilty parties contained within will remain anonymous.

Much to my personal chagrin, there are more bad managers out there than any of us would care to think about, much less admit. One couple that comes to mind had the “dream” job. A partnership that gave them anything they asked for. The pay and benefits were great and they had a beautiful home to live in. You would think this couple would bend over backward for such giving owners, but this was not the case.

On one hand, you can see all the things they were receiving from the owners. However, what was not obvious at first, due to ownership’s generosity, was the thievery that was taking place. Being privy to the general numbers at this facility through a friend of the owners, even I was shocked when I learned what this couple had managed to pull off. The amount and the ways they took from the owners are horrifying!

One member of the team handled all the accounting for the owners. This couple managed to purchase a new, top-of-the-line car, a vacation home, plus two motor homes. Granted one motor home was a bit on the shabbier side for a relative, but theirs was superb. It had a basement, push-out rooms and all the amenities. What trusting owners and what horrible employees. Sure, there were clues. They were living such a luxurious lifestyle it made you wonder, but the owners were such giving people.

Another manager couple I know of focused more on cash than on things, so it took longer for them to be exposed. It wasn’t until an altercation—stiffing a relief from their “cut”—that many of the ways funds were appropriated from the owners came to light. Renting units for cash-paying customers, and pocketing cash were just some of the ways they enriched their own pockets. They sold items stolen from stored RVs and contents of many units at flea markets. The stories we could share of good vs. evil are as endless as there are people on this earth.

Each couple met their appointment with destiny and hit hard times not long after being exposed. For the sake of those who take pride in doing the job of manager, well, I wish these couples had been prosecuted. However, to avoid negative public relations, both property-owner partnerships decided to eat their losses and move forward. I can’t say I blame them in that regard, but one of these couples managed to work in the self-storage industry for at least another 10 years. That part sickens me, but I understand ownership’s position as their business depends on customer perception of their product.

What all of this tells us is this: To be a good manager means doing your job responsibilities properly, but also being cognizant of the impact your actions have on others. If you feel you deserve a raise, make your notes, put together a presentation and ask. If your owner says he can’t meet your request right now, ask when you can expect to revisit the conversation and if there is anything else you can do to assist in whatever the stumbling block is. Ask for feedback. Most of us take others for granted from time to time, not out of meanness, but simply from life flying by too quickly.

Maybe that raise hasn’t been forthcoming as ownership was expecting something else from you and he meant to tell you what he would like to see. Or maybe your annual review slipped his mind. You are the responsible manager, so ask for that meeting or feedback. Then be the adult you are and be prepared to take a knock or two along the way. Doing things the way we’ve always done, isn’t always the best answer.

A good manager is a responsible person, who does his utmost to be the best employee he can be. A manager needs to accept not only the good job praises, but also the constructive criticisms in a professional manner.

Take a moment to reflect upon how you view, think of, and treat your ownership and then “Do unto others…” and I’m fairly certain good karma will be a partner in your life. Your self-storage owners should treat you with the same level of respect and business savvy that you show to them. What can it hurt to try? You may just end up with a more professional, mutually respectful working relationship. To quote one more canned phrase: Crime doesn’t pay, at least not in the long run.

Gina Six Kudo is the general manager of Cochrane Road Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif. She has more than 15 years of self-storage experience, and a strong customer-service and sales background.