The Training Component
Self-storage is not a cookie-cutter business where one company’s methodologies work for all. The competitive market demands that we strive to stand above the store down the street. Because of this importance and the risk of blending into the crowd, your property-management company should commit to your success by customizing services such as manager training and sales training. As important as your property-management company is to the success of your business, your managers that run each property are just as important, if not more.
Overlooking the management of your property managers is a common mistake in the self-storage industry. Business owners focus on reports and analysis so often they sometimes neglect the needs of the individuals in contact with their tenants every day. Self-storage facility managers may not view their position as a sales job; however, every self-storage owner knows it takes marketing and advertising to get customers through the door.
Perhaps the smartest marketing and ad campaign a self-storage owner could use is to invest in the sales skills of his or her employees. After all, they are the ones in contact with customers who respond to Yellow Pages ads, Internet ads, fliers, coupons, billboards, etc.
Sales training is also an intricate part of property management. Whether you deliver the training yourself or your property-management company does it, it should rank highly on your list.
Two May Be Better Than One
When looking for a third-party property-management service, don’t settle for less than what is comfortable for your business. You may even find the best option is to use two companies instead of just one. Maybe you’ll hire one for accounting services and market studies and another for call center and sales training. Choosing two separate vendors does have its advantages and disadvantages.
The cons may be that you’ll have two points of contact and two monthly bills. The pro: You get the best of both worlds. One company devoted to accounting and market study, and another separately devoted to sales training might make better sense if they have a forte in their respective niche. Moreover, one company that does it all just may be spreading itself too thin and not handling all responsibilities optimally. In fact, isn’t that why you’re hiring a property management company in the first place—because no one person/company can do it all?
A good property-management firm will build a program that suits your business and promotes growth. Research prospective management companies and get references for those you’re seriously considering. Ask if they have experience in the self-storage industry. Request examples of how they’ve increased efficiencies or created a sales increase for current clients. If they’ve done it before, they can likely do it again. Find the property-management company that meets all your needs and your self-storage business will be geared for success, getting the best deal for dollars spent.
Sarah Little is a total quality assurance account executive at PhoneSmart, an offsite sales force that helps storage owners rent to more people through its call center, secret-shopping service, sales-training and Internet-lead-generation services. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.