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Top 10 Things Done by Great Self-Storage Managers: Learn, Listen, Analyze and More

By Anne Ballard Comments
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5. Inspect and Organize

Great managers inspect their property daily for maintenance items, as they know correcting any issues early will save time and money. Neat, clean and well-organized, they use daily checklists and audits to control and improve their processes. They look from the outside in to see what customers and prospects are seeing, and take care to make sure it’s the most positive view possible.

Curb appeal, customer restrooms, office desk and counters, vacant units, showroom windows, hallways, driveways, and keypads are kept clean and neat so excuses are never needed when it comes to presentation of the facility. They also have a plan for performing preventive maintenance to keep things in good working order.

6. Improve

Great managers continually seek ways to improve their customer-service skills to ensure their patrons have the ultimate self-storage experience. They know that improving their entire process from customer service to maintenance will improve their bottom line year after year.

Incremental growth in income, leasing, closing ratios, expense management, capital projects and technology is expected. Great managers don’t hide behind excuses when it comes to finding ways to add value to the store’s bottom line. They know we’re all only as good as our last report, and don’t become complacent about the operation because they had one good year. Instead, they work to make each year a good one with multiple improvements.

7. Communicate

Great managers understand communication is the key to success. They know when to call for help, and when and how to recommend a solution to a problem. When something is broken or repairs or replacement is needed, they get bids for their supervisor so immediate action can be taken.

Follow-up is a part of their daily routine, whether it’s calling a delinquent tenant to discuss payment or a new one to say “welcome.” They communicate what makes their brand unique to everyone with whom they interact, everywhere they go. They also communicate with their peers and competitors on a frequent basis, sharing referrals and knowing firsthand what the competitor has to offer. Whether answering the phone or greeting walk-in customers, they communicate why they’re the best and represent the customer’s best value in self-storage.

8. Adapt to New Technology

Excited about the newest “gadget,” great managers can’t wait to try it out and determine the ways they can use it to cut expenses, save time and improve their process. They love using e-mail, social media and texting to contact new rentals and delinquent customers, as well as respond to leads, update websites and simply have the ability to be in touch instantaneously.

When faced with changes, they readily adapt. They try new things and understand they’ll make a few mistakes, but are diligent when it comes to improving their skills.

9. Network

Understanding their budget, great managers know that if you pay for a product or service, you need to use it in a way that will create business and improve your bottom line. They don’t just join, they participate. They work to make paid fees―such as those to join a local business group―pay off big in referrals and rentals from other members. Passionate about making their brand the one people remember drives them to attend chamber meetings and local events, join networking groups or start one of their own. They create a strategic alliance each and every time they represent their company.

When they host onsite events, they have a ready group of contacts in the local business community from which to draw, and a good knowledge of non-profit organizations who will benefit from the crowds at these events. They tie in their activities to local charities in need of services or donations. Getting everyone in the community to see and experience the store firsthand is the objective.

10. Have Great Attitude

Great managers realize the importance of saying “thank you” to their customers for the rental, a referral, or just for dropping in and inquiring about services. They know being gracious gains respect and a perception of trust. They understand they’re in control of their own attitude. They show up each day ready to see what the world will bring in the front door or what interesting people they’ll meet. They’re always ready for a new opportunity to talk about their store and how they’ll solve problems for residents and local businesses alike.

Everyone wants to be known as a great manager. Remember these 10 actions. Some are easier than others, but with practice, you too will be a top self-storage professional in your market.

M. Anne Ballard is owner and founder of Atlanta-based Universal Management Co., which provides full-service fee-management to clients in the Southeast and consulting services to many others around the world. She’s a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, and author of The Hat Lady Speaks, which focuses on self-storage marketing and management. To reach her, call 770.801.1888; e-mail ; visit .

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