Everyone in this country had a rude awakening with the events of Sept. 11. We were faced with the fact that the only thing constant in our lives is change. Rest assured, change is the one thing you can always rely on to happen. And how we react and adapt to change says something about our character.
Change is inevitable in the self-storage business also--changing lien laws, changes to our leases, change at our facilities that includes upgrades or improvements, new software, new forms, new supervisors, and perhaps new owners or management companies as well. How will you react to these changes? Do you go with the flow or are you the type of manager who says, "That's not the way we used to do it. Why are we changing?"
When it comes to something like lien laws, you will have no choice but to follow the rules. But at some point in your self-storage career, you may be in a situation where you have a new supervisor, owner or management company, and they will want to put in place their own forms, policies or procedures. Perhaps you will not agree with their input or the changes they want to make; however, it is your job to implement these new policies. Maybe you don't buy into these modifications for some reason. What do you do? How do you react?
First and foremost, do not overreact, even though your first impulse may be to confront your owner or supervisor with your disagreement. Take a deep breath. Try to put yourself in his place and understand why the new policy or form is being implemented. Once you have thought things through, ask to meet with the new owner or supervisor and let him know you would like to discuss your concerns about the changes.
Make sure to prepare for your meeting. Have questions ready and solid facts regarding why you have concerns about the new policies. Be sure to schedule your meeting far enough in advance to be prepared yourself and allow your owner or supervisor time to prepare also. At your meeting, don't become emotional. Be professional and prepared to lose your arguments, which is probably what will happen.
Many facilities have been bought and sold over the past year. National companies have purchased some of them. In other cases, owners elected to hire a management company to direct their assets so they can move on to other projects. Perhaps they simply decided to hire a new management company. When this happens, there are bound to be changes. These changes are aimed at helping the facility as a whole, and not toward making your life more difficult.
Most owners, supervisors or management companies realize the facility manager is an asset to the company. They want your input and to listen to your concerns. They should listen and be able to explain how and why changes are being made. Keep in mind, however, they might not be able to disclose financial or confidential information.
In the end, you were not only hired to manage and maintain your facility, but to support the owner's or management company's objectives and be a strong team player. If you have very strong convictions or morals that prevent you from accepting certain changes at your facility, it would be in your best interest and that of the facility to give your two-week or one-month notice. If you choose to take this course of action, do so in a professional and positive manner. That way, you'll retain the support and positive references of your owner, supervisor or management company.
Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management®, a nationwide manager- placement service. Mini-Management also offers full-service and "operations-only" facility management, training manuals, inspections and audits, feasibility studies, consulting and training seminars. For more information, call 800.646.4648.