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Reflections on the Self-Storage Biz: Industry Education, Software Data and Challenges of Refinancing

Jim Chiswell Comments

I know this is something that’s only talked about in whispers. It’s a subject that’s hard to bring up, even with the people you know. I’m talking, of course, about Education Dysfunction, or E.D.

E.D. is a condition sometimes brought on by a difficult budget or simple neglect. It’s defined by most professionals as delusional thinking that “you already know all you need to know,” or the misconception that “there’s really nothing new about this business,” so the same-old, same-old is good enough for you.

The result of not diagnosing the early stages of E.D. can be a deterioration in skill level—a reduction in motivation until finally sinking into a “whatever” attitude about performing your job. The good news is you can treat E.D. quickly, and it doesn’t require long-term therapy or expensive prescriptions.

You fight Educational Dysfunction by simply encouraging those around you to share a book, or read and comment on a recent business article about self-storage. Even a few hundred dollars, properly allocated, can bring new knowledge to your desktop through webinars and online course work.

There are opportunities to battle E.D. in your company, but it starts with a management/ownership commitment to prevent it from even starting to infect your team. Your intention to make continuing education a part of your company culture requires making it a stated goal with a budget line to help fulfill the promise. It must be considered by everyone to be as important as answering phone inquiries or making collections calls.

Learning must be considered a basic part of the business, not a luxury or extravagance. Once firmly rooted in your company’s thinking, a permanent defense to Education Dysfunction can be achieved.
Making the Most of Your Software

The vast majority of self-storage operators manage their day-to-day business with the assistance of industry-specific software. Many are passionate in their support of one program over another, while others seem to never be satisfied with the version they’re using and feel stuck with it until the economy improves.

I’m not writing to provoke a landslide of e-mails about specific programs but to make a simple point: Every one of these self-storage software programs is producing mountains of information in self-storage offices worldwide. We can draw from the data to help make better business decisions. Are you doing this?

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