A full operational audit should take from half to a full day, depending on the facility size. Every review should include:
- A reconciliation of the cash and petty-cash drawers
- A complete space audit
- A list of deferred maintenance issues
- A review of payment and deposit records
- A review of lease and vacate files
- A review of all discounts and rent credits
- A review any deleted payments
- A review any waived fees
- A review of the non-standard rates report
- A reconciliation of moving and packing supply totals
- An inspection of onsite manager’s apartment
- An inspection of any rental trucks
- A review of the facility's curb appeal and property condition
In addition, a third-party vendor might include commentary regarding the onsite managers, their demeanor and customer-service attitudes, a mystery-phone shop and property photos. It also may include commentary on various operational reports and an executive summary with conclusions, along with marketing and operational recommendations. The vendor's job is to provide an unbiased picture of the state of your self-storage asset, including reporting any suspected or proven theft issues.
Applying the Findings
It’s important to understand the value of an operational audit and learn to use the information provided to improve the operation of your facility. The audit should also be used as a training tool for onsite managers. Expectations and accountability should be clearly explained within the parameters of the audit process.
There’s little value in an operational audit if the information is not used to make improvements, track performance or hold management responsible for their part in creating asset value.
If you're a facility owner and conducting regular operational audits isn’t part of your routine, it’s time you started. If you don’t see the importance of auditing, you’re fooling yourself and likely missing out on revenue and value-increase opportunities.
If you don’t know how to audit your storage facility, learn. There are far too many good resources in the industry, so there’s no excuse to not learn how to better protect your most valuable asset. If you don’t want to learn, hire a third-party company. Its unbiased and professional review will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make in your facility. If you believe hiring out for an audit is too expensive, to what are you comparing that? Loss of value? Loss of operational efficiency? Exposure to theft? Potential for important details to fall through the cracks? Keep in mind an independent third party is going to notice things you no longer do.
Whether you conduct a self-audit or have a professional perform one for you, failing to audit your self-storage facility is irresponsible and should be unacceptable. Get going!
Bob Copper is partner in charge at Self Storage 101, an industry consulting firm that assists facility owner/operators and managers in developing more effective and profitable operational systems. It also aids in conducting performance reviews and providing the necessary tools to perform at higher levels in a competitive industry. To reach Bob, call 866.269.1311; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.