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Self-Directed Lessons for the Self-Storage Manager: The Training You Need, the Career You Want

John P. Roser Comments

So, you finally landed that self-storage manager position, and it’s your first day on the job. You’ve met the supervisor and he’s given you the “nickel” tour. Back in the office, as you follow your new boss behind the counter, he points out the computer, cash drawer and customer files. Next, he hands you the keys to the entire facility with a ceremonious smile. Then he does something you didn’t expect—he leaves. What about your training? A feeling of anxiety comes over you as he drives away ...

You may think this story is imaginary, but it’s all too real and repeated more often than anyone would like to admit. During our first taste of self-storage management, my wife and I learned that the regional manager had no real interest in our training or in the success of the site. Consequently, we were forced to learn all the early knowledge about the facility and industry on our own, without the benefit of a close supervisor or trainer.

Our situation may have been unique, but it does help illustrate a point. There are times when all self-storage managers will need to direct their own continuing education, whether as a result of an upheaval at a facility that places you in charge, or to develop your knowledge in preparation for future advancement.

In other words, training is the key to every successful facility manager, and the foundation on which a satisfying self-storage career is built. Whether you’re on assignment at a new facility or trying to prepare yourself for advancement within your current organization, there are things you can do to ensure your knowledge keeps pace with the demands of the position.

First, don’t panic, even if you’ve taken the reins from a manager who was dismissed and left the site a mess. Keeping your wits in this type of high-stress situation is vital to your primary objective of re-organization. In every case, begin by examining the resources you have at your disposal. Strive to quickly understand the fundamentals of your site and procedures to help you more easily understand the new situations you’ll encounter. From there, consider these simple, self-directed lessons.
Office Systems 101

Many new self-storage managers come into a facility with experience from another type of property-management position, possessing a basic understanding of this type of office system. Others are completely green and know little. In either case, a good starting point in your self-education involves a review of the various systems and procedures unique to our industry.

Above all, a review of the facility's management program is necessary. Fortunately, even the most basic self-storage management software includes a tutorial, and you’ll want to go through it several times until you’re familiar with the program’s main functions such as taking payments, processing rentals and creating reports.

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