Hiring the Right Management Firm for You

Maurice Pogoda and Tom Berlin Comments
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Taking the Plunge

Once you’ve taken the plunge and hired a management company, there is a great deal you should expect for the monthly fee. It is important, however, to realize that you must give the management company time to implement plans. A complete turnaround won’t occur overnight. Here’s a list of what your management company should provide to you:

  • Turnkey operations. As the owner, your responsibility should be limited to ensuring that the management company performs to your expectations. Day-to-day operations are left to the management company.

  • Expertly trained resident managers. You want "self storage specialists" (not caretakers) who’ve been trained to determine your customers’ storage needs and to satisfy them.

  • Employee/vendor selection. Hiring, firing and supervising everyone from your resident managers to your maintenance personnel and outside contractors should not fall to you. Also, competitive bidding should be utilized to keep expenses down.

  • Operating guidelines. The management company should provide an operations manual that details procedures to have your store run at its peak efficiency.

  • Tough collections policies. This should be addressed separately and in considerable detail from the operations guidelines. It is easy to have a store that is 90 percent occupied but has only 70 percent financial occupancy. The difference is often the quality of collections.

  • Specialized marketing programs. Each store has its own attributes and a unique market. Marketing materials and programs must emphasize store features to effectively target specific demographics. What works on one side of town may not work on the other.

  • Constant supervision. Frequent store visits and audits are a must to maintain a professional appearance as well as to assure a smooth, honest operation.

  • Repair/remodeling recommendation and supervision . The management company should offer suggestions for capital improvements, along with ensuring that regular maintenance is done properly and timely.

  • Annual budget preparation. You should receive a reasonable budget that serves as a guideline for financial expectations and as a monthly check of operational efficiency.

  • Monthly status reports. These are accurate reports that compare cash inlays and outlays, occupancy rates and delinquencies, and gauge how well marketing programs are working.

No management company can be expected to perform real magic and totally compensate for a poorly designed store in a bad location or saturated market. It should, however, provide you with services that justify its fees, doing everything possible to increase occupancy and decrease delinquencies. A truly professional management company should have the experience to perform the best trick in the book: increasing profitability and turning your store into a more valuable asset. That’s better than a rabbit out of a hat anytime! 

Maurice Pogoda is president and Tom Berlin is vice-president of operations for Pogoda Management Co., based in Farmington Hills, Mich., with regional offices in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Dayton, Ohio. Pogoda is Michigan’s largest self-storage operator and one of the 25 largest in the United States, with approximately 3 million square feet of self-storage space under management in Michigan and Ohio in 38 stores. Founded in 1987, the firm provides brokerage, management, investment and consulting services to the self-storage industry. For more information, call 800.326.3199; or visit www.pogodaco.com

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