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Choosing a Self-Storage Management Company: What to Ask, What to Expect

Matthew Van Horn Comments

As we leave the dynamic storage market of 2009, it’s time to review the items we can successfully change in 2010. It may be time to evaluate and update your facility’s curb appeal, marketing plan or payroll. It may be time to approve a capital repair you didn’t complete last year or institute a new policy or procedure left for another day. You might even be in a position to refinance or sell your facility.

Regardless of your situation, an experienced self-storage management company can help you navigate these waters. Choosing a third-party management company is one of the most important decisions you can make for the overall success of your investment.

An experienced management company will handle all the day-to-day operation of your facility, including marketing, manager acquisition and training, bookkeeping, curb appeal, lien sales, software and computer installation, Internet management, vendor negotiations, and auditing. This allows a self-storage owner to focus on other interests, but still allows him input on operational decisions.
Do Your Homework

Before interviewing management companies, first determine if you’ll be comfortable handing day-to-day operation to someone else, and if the cost of hiring a company is compatible with your financial situation. A storage customer will typically rent where he feels the most comfortable, and choosing a management company is no different for you. If you’re not at ease with turning over your investment to a third party, the relationship between owner and management company will quickly deteriorate.

Once you’ve made the decision to work with a management company, research each that interests you. There are a number of highly rated and experienced self-storage companies. As an owner, you need to decide the most important factors in your decision. Here are some questions you should ask in the initial interview: 

  • How long has the management company been in business?
  • What is the experience of the staff?
  • Is the company in the same state as your facility?
  • How often will they visit your facility?
  • What kind of progress reports will you receive?
  • Does the company handle the facility’s bookkeeping?
  • Does it have references?
  • Does it prefer specific management software?
  • What are the costs associated with hiring the company?

Also, how much reporting should you expect? Should the third-party management company report information to you daily, weekly or monthly? Would you prefer conference calls or in-person meetings? Communicate your expectations at the outset to learn whether the company will be able to meet your needs.

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