Building an Effective Training Program for Self-Storage Facility Managers

By Bob Copper Comments
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The manner in which you teach employees isn’t particularly critical. That you establish a method and system is what's important.

Determine Location and Duration

Besides determining who will train new employees, you must contemplate the “where” and “how long” of your program. The location is determined by who will be involved. All or part of the training will likely take place at one or more of your facilities, while some might take place in a home-office setting.

Regarding training duration, the most common mistake owners and supervisors make is to rush the process. Your multi-million-dollar investment deserves more than a cursory review of the basics. It’s more important to ensure a new manager has the tools for success than it is to plug a personnel hole out of desperation. You should expect to systematically work an employee through a two- to four-week training program.

Build the Program

The next step in creating your new training program is to determine what should be taught, with an understanding that not every customer-service scenario or maintenance issue can possibly be covered in even the most comprehensive program. Your program must, however, include a clear narrative about what managers do, how they do it, and the expectations for performance.

When assembling your curriculum, it’s important to include the following:

  • An understanding of the self-storage business: The manager’s role in the process, why people store, customer expectations of the experience, etc.
  • Job responsibilities: Information about renting space, collecting money, maintaining the property, assisting customers and other duties
  • Day-to-day operational steps: Details on opening and closing the office, conducting lock checks, checking the answering machine, turning on the office equipment, preparing bank deposits and checking the integrity of the security system
  • The management-software program: How to take payments, rent and vacate space, run reports, sell merchandise, rent trucks, and input sales-lead information
  • Effective sales skills: Answering the telephone, industry-specific techniques, handling objections, closing sales, following up on leads and compiling competitive information
  • The collections process: Gathering information at the time of the rental, conducting proper follow-up, making collections calls, determining what to say on the phone, documenting efforts and understanding potential rent
  • Ancillary products and services: Maximizing sales, mentioning ancillary services with every customer contact, and adding on to the lease process
  • A superior customer-service experience: Being proactive instead of reactive, handling upset customers, and understanding a manager’s parameters
  • Marketing efforts: Documenting customer information, turning leads into rentals, using the referral program, and communicating with ownership about what’s working and what isn’t
  • Ownership expectations: Understanding occupancy and income goals, facility maintenance, good curb appeal and expense control

Schedule Follow-Up Meetings

Your manager-training program—whether it takes two weeks, four weeks or some time in between—should end with a “debrief” in which the owner or supervisor meets with the employee to discuss his training experience. Use a checklist to ensure all the training steps were covered. You should be interested in the level at which the new hire comprehended the information. It’s your responsibility to ensure he has the skill and confidence to succeed in his new position.

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