By Frank Dombroski
Finding and retaining employees is a challenge in every industry. Self-storage owners face a broad set of obstacles, from unique legal and regulatory issues to training and managing a diverse workforce. Competitive wages and benefits are not the offerings that differentiate a company. Savvy owners must think outside the box to boost employee morale and loyalty.
The majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and many are sinking deeper into debt. Employers benefit when their workers are better equipped to make ends meet and are not suffering from debilitating financial stress. Here are some creative, cost-effective ways to ensure employee satisfaction and retention.
One of the most effective ways to retain employees is to train your front-line supervisors, managers and administrators. Employees often stay or leave because of their bosses, not their companies. A strong employee/owner relationship is critical to business success. In addition, you need to provide training to develop solid supervisory and people-management skills.
“We spend a lot of time and money training our onsite staff, empowering them with responsibility for their store,” says Mike Burnam, CEO of TKG StorageMart Partners L.P. in Columbia, Mo. “We incent them to keep them selling, and in response they perform, which keeps them happy, and by extension makes me happy.”
Hiring the right managers is critical for customer fulfillment as well as employee retention, says George Aquino, chief operating officer for Fresno, Calif.-based Derrel’s Mini Storage. “We have received many comments from our storage customers about how helpful and friendly our managers are,” Aquino says. “Being thorough in our qualifying of potential employees—a very direct communication of what we expect of them—and making almost anyone in the organization available to help these people, raises the bar and sets a standard.”