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Re-Energizing Your Self-Storage Staff: Methods of Coaching and Motivation

By Linnea Appleby Comments
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Check In on the Dress Code

People are dressed in business attire generally feel and work better. Encourage employees to dress professionally by supplying company shirts. Baggy pants and flip flops probably don’t give the image you want. Encourage the golf-pro look, not the surfer-dude look. Consider springing for a new pair of shoes. For an hourly employee, work shoes are not where they want to spend their discretionary income. For you, $40 to $60 results in a better business image and an appreciative, well-shod employee. Easy fix.

Assign Investigations and Reviews

To keep managers engaged, delegate assignments or projects to investigate and review. Over time, even good managers get complacent on things such as competitor surveys. Send your staff or, even better, go with them to visit the managers at competing stores.

When was the last time you really looked at your market? Managers get comfortable e-mailing prices back and forth. By verifying the information together, you can get back to more structured reviews. Visiting your competition is a good starting point to renew enthusiasm for the business. It can be the jumping-off point for your re-energized action plan. Schedule to do this no less than twice per year and stick to it. You should also assign a goal around reducing discounts each month, or track and reward managers who rent without a discount.

Try creating assignments and action plans for each of the items on which you want staff to focus. As the leader, your assignment is to review your business forms and letters. If you have the same lease you had seven years ago, have it reviewed and updated by an attorney. A number of states have made changes in self-storage legislation. Remember, the rental agreement is the document on which your entire business is based. Do you really know what it contains?

Set Goals

Set staff goals based on the results you want. Make it measurable. Instead of “do better on the phone,” make it “achieve a score of 90 or greater on my next three phone shops.” Phone-shop programs, by the way, are a great training tool and an easy way to offer staff bonuses.

Build a contest or bonus based on an occupancy or income goal. Make it a stretch but attainable. Good managers don’t want a “gimme,” they want a challenge. If it’s too easy, they just toss it off.

 Find out what motivates staff outside of work. Encourage them to create and pursue personal goals. Support them in their charitable activities. Most important, recognize and reward employees when goals are met. Take every opportunity to have a little fun. When the team is enjoying the job, that vibe carries over to tenants.

Offer Benefits and Encourage Training

In today’s world, being able to offer benefits to employees can be difficult. But not all benefits need to be costly. Consider adding simple items to your package such as a membership to Toastmasters International. This club can make a huge difference for people. Membership is only $36 every six months, and there’s a club almost everywhere. Just go to and search for one in your ZIP code.

Foster learning by offering to reimburse managers for business books, courses or seminars. Pay for a computer class if it will help them in the office. Your interest in their success will be appreciated, and they’ll learn something they can use for the benefit of your business.

There are lots of ways to re-energize your staff and storage facility. It all starts with the desire to get different results. After that, it’s just a matter of taking action and a commitment to ongoing coaching to get there. Good luck!

Linnea Appleby is the owner of Lime Tree Management, a Florida-based self-storage management and consulting firm. She’s a frequent contributor to ISS, an instructor for the Self-Storage Training Institute, and a speaker at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo. For more information, call 941.350.7859; e-mail

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