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

John P. Roser Comments
Continued from page 1

Speaking of reports, your supervisor will be duly impressed if your initial questions include a request for a list of periodic reports he may require. Familiarize yourself with this important function of the management program, and practice creating and modifying important reports such as operational and financial summaries, customer inquiries, delinquency reports, etc.

As time passes, you’ll discover not only which reports provide the best information, but just how valuable these are to site operation and success. Make a habit of discussing these reports with your supervisor, and demonstrate an interest in what they tell you about the business. 
Fundamentals of the Facility

After a while behind the desk, it’s time for a walk—a site walk, that is. Obviously, you must learn office operation, but you must also learn your facility. As soon as it is convenient, take a walking tour of the entire site (with map in hand, if available), noting where you find specific unit sizes, climate-controlled buildings, etc. Try imagining yourself as the customer, asking questions about the features and amenities. Review the general layout until you have it memorized, and then determine the best tour route for your customers.

Do your best to learn all you can about the greatest aspects of the site, because they’re an important tool and critical element of the self-storage sales process. Repeat the walk daily to keep site information fresh in your mind. Plus, you’ll also discover maintenance issues while they’re still minor.

Back in the office, find and study facility maps, vacancy reports and rate sheets until you’re satisfied you can answer every prospective question thrown your way. Don’t forget that a thorough knowledge of your facility is the prerequisite for more technical instruction in other areas like maintenance and marketing. Remember, the more you know about the site, the more precise your judgment will be in setting important facility priorities.
Know Thy Customer

Few of the lessons you learn in the self-storage business are as important as understanding your customer. Learning to interact with your current tenants helps you understand their motivations and concerns, and may assist you in gaining insight to past tenant-management issues. Consistent communication also tends to solidify customer loyalty, which ultimately provides an invaluable boost to your referral program.

The process of knowing your clients usually begins by learning their first names, and greeting them enthusiastically as they visit the office to rent or drop off payments. Creative site managers sometimes encourage interaction by providing free coffee in the office, which is one of several ways to foster open communication with your customers. As appreciation for your tenants grows, you may discover that the trust you build helps you gain cooperation in the implementation and enforcement of facility policies.

Ultimately, with a better understanding of your client comes customer-service skills that are more acute, and these skills are beneficial in every aspect of the self-storage manager’s job.
Advanced Industry Education

Once you’ve completed a few fundamental courses, you’ve laid much of the groundwork necessary to effectively manage your site. As with most careers, however, continuous improvement is required to make sure your skills stay sharp, and to ensure you keep up with the many advances in the industry. Information related to marketing your facility, legal issues, etc., may call for additional expertise. Fortunately, much of the information you need to advance in the industry is literally at your fingertips.

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