Training Self-Storage Managers: Creating a Manual, What to Teach, Choosing a Trainer and More

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By Carol Krendl

What’s the most important sales feature at your facility? If you didn’t answer “the manager,” think again. In the past, self-storage operators would worry about competitors building facilities within 5 miles of their own. Today they’re lucky if there isn’t another complex right down the street.

To remain competitive, operators must have highly trained and motivated staff. The days of the retired “mom and pop” resident managers are over. Training is no longer a luxury reserved for larger companies; it’s a necessity. To assess your personnel needs, ask yourself:

  • Are my managers maximizing profit?
  • Are they building value into my stores through their sales techniques?
  • Do they know my company policies and goals?
  • Are they customer-service-oriented?

If you answered “no” to any of the above, your organization needs a manager-training program.

The First Giant Step

In assembling a training program, you must first decide what information all managers should be required to have. This calls for an operations manual, which will enable your company to standardize its community. It will also provide your trainer with a text from which to instruct new personnel. An operations manual should cover the following topics:

  • Company policies
  • Job overview
  • Marketing
  • Inspections
  • Renting space
  • Computer/bookkeeping system
  • Deposits
  • Vacating units
  • Reports
  • Collections
  • Maintenance/supplies
  • Emergencies

The manual should be written at a seventh- or eight-grade reading level so it is readily comprehensible by all employees. Keep the writing as simple as possible and avoid being nitpicky. The manual should translate into an improved and streamlined business operation.

Discourage unnecessary tasks and paperwork wherever possible, and keep instructions clear and concise.

Choosing a Trainer

The majority of self-storage operators cannot justify the expense of employing a full-time trainer, so they often choose one from existing personnel. When considering candidates, look for people who will be positive role models for staff. Your trainer will present all the goals and objectives of the company to new employees. He should be patient, understanding and socially adept.

Keep in mind that not all people learn by the same teaching methods, so it’s important that your trainer can present information in various ways and keep students engaged. Both the teacher and the student should take responsibility for what’s learned. In an adult learning situation, the employee:

  • Is an active participant in the learning process.
  • Has experience in the subject and brings that experience into the classroom.
  • Has unique needs that must be addressed.
  • Evaluates himself.
  • Immediately applies new concepts.

Group discussion and experimentation are common teaching methods. The more an employee participates in the training process, the more effective the training will be, and the longer the employee will be retained.

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