To succeed in the self-storage business, facility owner/operators need well-trained and knowledgeable managers to run their facilities, but there are still many who have not yet come to that conclusion. They still believe that hiring poorly trained managers, throwing them into situations for which they are ill-prepared, and then insisting on a high level of performance will somehow work. It doesn’t.
For many self-storage owners, their facility or portfolio represents a significant percentage of their net worth or assets. While they tend to take a great deal of effort in maintaining the physical plant, they often fail to make the same investment in their staff. But performance patterns are consistent across markets large and small, soft and growing: Facilities with better managers tend to have higher occupancy levels and rental rates. It’s not a coincidence.
Here’s a simple assessment owners can apply to your managers: Do you trust your family’s well-being in their hands? If you do, great. If you don’t, you need to give them the tools and support they need to improve, or replace them with better employees. You can’t afford to put your business and family in jeopardy because your manager cannot do his job.
The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Our industry has a touch of insanity when it comes to staffing. Many owner/operators and multi-facility managers fail to recognize the critical importance of their site managers and making good decisions from the beginning of the employment process. If you want better results from your personnel efforts, you have to do things differently.
When it comes to hiring, we make terrible decisions, sometimes out of desperation, other times due to personal relationships, sometimes based on an applicant’s work experience at 12 other self-storage facilities. Due to these and other reasons, we denigrate one of our most critical decisions and hand the keys of a multi-million-dollar storage facility to someone who might not be qualified to run a lemonade stand. Some owners spend more time shopping for a golf cart than on hiring their manager.
If we want a higher level of performance from our self-storage managers, we need to hire a higher level of employee. Our managers should be better educated and have great communication and people skills.
Too many owners send their managers off to do the job with an empty “toolbox.” They spend more money on a few lunches with their country-club pals than on training programs for their staff. I’m continually surprised at how few operators take advantage of the training resources available in our industry. No matter how many participate in a particular seminar, workshop, webinar, etc., it’s still a small percentage of the whole.