A Self-Storage Owner's Guide to Manager Bonuses: Program Types and Considerations

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That said, I'm not a big supporter of offering truck rental at self-storage facilities. I know, I know ... It can bring in customers and extra income. However, depending on how busy your facility is, truck rental can take up a lot of manager time and effort. It can sometimes be a full-time job. If you have a busy site, hire someone to run the truck-rental business and let the self-storage manager do what he was hired to do: rent units.

Mystery-Shopping Bonus

A lot of self-storage companies use mystery-shopping services to “shop” their managers on a monthly basis and see how well they handle customer calls and walk-ins. Are they selling the facility's services and spaces? If your manager does well on a phone shop, perhaps you reward him with a bonus. This can be $50, $100, a gift card, tickets to a baseball game or movie theater, etc. The possibilities are unlimited in this type of bonus.

Non-Monetary Bonus

To repeat: What motivates one manager may not motivate the next. It's the owner’s job to explore which bonus program or combination of programs will motivate each of his employees. You know what they say about money: It's always the right color and it usually fits! However, a manager would sometimes prefer his bonus in the form of gifts or company perks.

Non-monetary bonuses can come in many forms. It might be a gift like a surround-sound audio system or all-expense-paid vacation. It might be some time off to visit the kids or lay on a warm sunny beach in the middle winter. It might be medical coverage, or upgrades to the manager's apartment. All of these things are alternative ways to say "thank you" for a job well done.

There's no right or wrong in designing your bonus programs. Just remember that a bonus should be a reward, not a given. It should be neither expected nor demanded by the employee. It should make him stretch his abilities but also be reasonable and obtainable.

A bonus should be something the owner is happy to give and the manager is happy to receive. A combination of programs is best because a manager might achieve some goals but not others. For example, he might score high on his phone shop but fail to meet the facility's monthly income goal.

Just keep in mind that if a bonus program is so complicated that you need a degree in finance to decipher it, or it is unachievable, then you'll do nothing more than demotivate your manager. This could cause ill will, and that's when your manager might go looking for another job.

Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management Services, a company that has been placing self-storage managers all over the United States since 1991. She can be reached at 321.890.2245 or www.mini-management.com .

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