Managers can no longer wait for the phone to ring or for customers to just stop by. In fact, it becomes increasingly necessary for them to actually reach out to their customers. This means staff must be marketing-oriented and have more of an outside-sales personality, which is opposite the “mom and pop” and babysitting style management we have seen at facilities in the past. What does it mean for owners, and where do we find the right staffing solutions for our facilities?
First, owners need to establish job descriptions and identify the personality traits managers need to successfully interact with their customer base. These qualities and duties may be different for each market area. Onsite personnel need the communication skills necessary to adequately relate to their particular demographics. They must also be “trainable”—in other words, willing to learn and adapt to the ever-changing storage environment.
Many owner/operators are going outside the industry to recruit these individuals. The managers of today are polished and professional. They seek marketing opportunities in their communities. They think outside the “This is the way it has always been done” mentality and no longer believe the “If you build it they will come” strategy. They understand the need to know their market and competition and consistently strive to do better.
Of course, this means they need a higher level of expertise, motivation and energy than ever before. Therefore, a higher salary and better benefit package is necessary to attract the right management team.
Where to Hire
Now, where do we find these power managers? A good place to start is current employees who already fit the profile. They understand your expectations and requirements. Many operators will even pay a finder’s fee to existing employees for referring qualified candidates. Some are finding the right fit in the retail, hotel, multifamily and service industries, as employees in these fields tend to posses the personality traits and backgrounds conducive to self-storage management.
Industry publications have classified sections for the advertisement of available positions. Self-storage associations usually have referral avenues for people seeking jobs through their websites or offices. Industry-specific placement agencies are available to aid in the hiring process, which saves time in interviewing numbers of unqualified candidates. They recruit, interview and refer only prospects that fit the qualifications and traits specified by the owner/operator.
Due to ever rising costs of recruiting, hiring and training employees, it is not uncommon for candidates to undergo personality and performance testing prior to hiring. This helps determine if they posses the qualities to be successful. An interview often will not uncover negative traits or work habits that would be detrimental to the team effort. There are many tests available for this purpose and information can be found on the Internet or in bookstores.
Finally, one of the most important factors to having the right staff for your business is ongoing training and support. It is a known fact that employees are more loyal and productive when given the tools to be confident in their abilities. Award programs, bonus structures and promotion opportunities are just a few ways to attract and retain personnel. Incentives such as attending outside seminars and conventions are a great way to reward and give ongoing training to productive employees.
Let’s face it: Solid staffing is the key to the success of any business. It is an investment that gives returns over and over. It is important employees be treated as a valuable asset, and given responsibility with the training and support necessary to be successful.
Cheryl Kelley is president of Innovative Management Solutions, a full-service company providing management, feasibility studies, training and consulting services throughout the United States and abroad. For more information, call 972.396.0511; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.