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What the Heck! An Open Letter to a Self-Storage Manager and Her Stretchy Pants

By Bob Copper Comments

If you’ve read any of my past articles, you know I’m a huge fan of the self-storage manager. I believe the manager is the most important person in our business, and a facility's success or failure is due in large part to his abilities. A professional manager must present an effective sales presentation, follow up on leads and close sales. He must use a system to maximize collections and time-management skills to get it all done.

Self-storage is a unique business model. It’s a very valuable asset in the hands of just one or two people, so those handlers must be well-trained and responsible. After saying all that, it pains me to write this open letter to a particular facility manager in Texas.

Dear Facility Manager at the XX Self-Storage Facility in XX, Texas,

Please believe that I have tried hard to search for something positive to say about my mystery shop of your facility a couple of weeks ago. I really, really tried. The best I could come up with was “the office was open,” but then it goes downhill from there.

You told me “business is slow” and that you are “about 70 percent occupied.” (See this? This is my “shocked” face!) I’m still struggling to believe that someone has entrusted their legacy, credit, capital, family’s investment and peace of mind to your hands. (The owner clearly has to accept some of the blame here in that he cares so little to allow his facility to be managed in such a manner.)

First off, who dresses you? Tight stretch pants went out of style a long, long time ago and they were never intended to be stretched that much. If there was a warranty on the “stretchiness” of those pants, you’ve clearly violated it. Trust me: Customers do not want to see everything, especially your bare belly. Please buy a mirror, find a clean shirt and pull it all the way down. Thank you.

Next, when did texting while talking to a customer become part of your sales presentation? Your primary responsibility is to rent space, but you seem to believe that texting, Twittering, Facebooking and whatever else folks do who have nothing else to do, is more important. Someone is paying you to rent space and collect money, so you could at least pretend to do that. Put your cell phone down and stand up to greet customers. They’re more important than your 5,000 Facebook “friends.” Thank you.

Lastly (I could go on and on, but there’s probably not much point), please buy a broom, a dust pan and a trash can and clean up your facility. This isn’t just where you work, it’s also where you live. Clean it up! How do you walk by all that trash every day or work in that nasty office and not think, “I really need to clean this up”? You should not need the owner or supervisor to tell you that. Some level of self-respect should kick in. And while you’re at it, that pizza box from a few days ago is starting to stink. Thank you. Have a nice day!

I know this letter sounds harsh but, really, shouldn’t we have some level of standards? Yes, we should. Really awful managers and facilities hurt all of us. Thankfully there aren’t that many. I hope.

Bob Copper is the 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 him, call 866.269.1311; e-mail; visit .

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