Parameters to Strike the Right Balance in Self-Storage Manager Compensation

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By Pamela Alton

An often-discussed topic in the self-storage industry is manager compensation. Unfortunately, there's no set standard in the industry. Wages are all over the board, and there's no rhyme or reason to what a manager might be paid. However, there are some parameters owners can follow to find the right balance.

There's no real right or wrong to paying wages, except you can't pay your managers under the legal minimum wage in your state, which is against the law. Also, if you have resident managers, you can't use the cost of the housing to offsite any minimum-wage deficiency.

Let’s explore some wage options, considerations and exceptions for the different types of staff you might employ.

Full-Time Resident Managers

There's still a significant number of self-storage facilities whose managers live onsite. These managers may be paid a salary or an hourly wage.

Even if your employee is paid a salary, he should complete a timecard for all hours worked. Most resident employees will gladly put in an extra hour here or there, not because they expect to be paid extra, but because the property is their home and they take pride in the facility. If your salaried manager works an extraordinary amount of overtime, you should pay him for those extra hours. This lessens the chance of issues down the road regarding underpayment. Of course, if a salaried employee has to work extra hours one week, he may work less hours the following week to average out the total hours for the pay period.

The typical wage for a salaried, single, resident manager is between $1,800 to $2,200 a month. The wage for a management team is usually around $3,200 to $3,600. Keep in mind this is an average. Some managers earn less and some more.

Hourly wages for resident managers can run $9 to $12 or more per hour. They usually also receive some sort of bonus program.

Non-Resident Managers

In the past 10 years or so, many of the newer self-storage facilities have opted not to include  manager apartments during development. This means employees are more akin to those of other retail environments where the employee comes to work and goes home at the end of his shift. Usually, these managers are paid an hourly wage rather than a salary. Facility relief managers also fall into this category.

A full-time, non-resident manager will be paid, on average, between $12 and $18 an hour. Relief managers, on average, are paid $9 to $11 an hour. These managers may or may not receive some sort of bonus as well as their hourly wage.

Does Facility Size Matter?

When it comes to a self-storage manager’s compensation, the answer is no! The pay to oversee a 350-unit facility may be equal or close to that of an 800-unit facility. How can that be? Well, a smaller facility may be older, have no mortgage and fewer operating expenses. If it’s in a densely populated area, rental rates may be higher and, therefore, an owner may be able to pay the manager as much as that of larger facility in a more rural area.

One thing is clear: After a facility’s mortgage payment, employee wages are probably an owner’s highest expense, so keep that in mind when designing your annual budget. There's no set standard in paying your managers, except you must pay them at least your state’s minimum-wage. Also, if a manager works overtime, pay him!

Your goal is to hire the right person for the job, give him the proper training and make him accountable for his actions. When you pay him well, provide a motivating and obtainable bonus program, and give positive feedback,  it will be a win-win situation for you, your facility and your manager.

Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management Services, a nationwide self-storage manager placement service. She also conducts audits and inspections, manager training and feasibility studies. For more information, call 321.890.2245; e-mail pamela@mini-management.com ; visit www.mini-management.com .

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