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Little Changes That Make a Big Impact: Becoming a Better Self-Storage Manager

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By Rick Beal

As I’ve visited various self-storage facilities, I’ve seen the different roles managers play. Some have a great deal of responsibility over the day-to-day management of a property while others have less. Wherever you might fall in this spectrum, it’s important to know the role of the modern storage manager is changing—and you can be part of that change.

In this article, you’ll be introduced to concepts and suggestions you can implement within your own company to improve your role and the performance of your facility. Little changes can have big effect!

Be Professional

You have a responsibility first and foremost to yourself. Who do you want to be? Are you the manager who shows up at 9 a.m. to open the store or the one who gets there 20 minutes early to plan the day? You must decide which kind of manager you are.

Most people don’t realize that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people isn’t their ability; it’s their commitment to personal growth. It’s why you’re reading this article and another manager isn’t. You want to better yourself. You need to push yourself as a person and as a facility manager. Do things that will make you grow. If you’re not willing to evolve, you’re not willing to reach your potential.

A professional manager learns more about the industry and organization of which he is a part. There are many resources that can help you, including associations, publications and tradeshows. Take advantage of these opportunities, and use them to better yourself and your company.

A professional manager takes time to get to know the facilities in the market around him. It won’t be easy and it will take time; however, make the effort to meet with the other self-storage managers in the community and share pricing. I’m a huge believer in sharing rental rates. Prices aren’t a trade secret nobody is supposed to discuss! Good managers will share pricing, as it’s pretty simple to get it other ways anyway.

A professional manager plans his day. If you don’t organize your day or week, you’re setting yourself up for a hectic one. Storage is a business in which your days are always different. You never know when the phone will ring, when a customer will walk through your door or an emergency will come up. You’ll have an hour of chaos as well as blocks of time that are slow. To be productive, you need to have a plan.

A year ago, I bought day planners for myself and all of my employees. I asked them to plan out their days and weeks whenever possible. After a few days, I had some planning ninjas! Not only did the planner keep me on point to ensure I completed my own projects, it helped ensure my team was getting their tasks done. As their supervisor, I had the ability to check their planners and see what they did during slow times. It also helped create a system of accountability.

Embrace Customer Service

Your next priority is your customers. Without them, you wouldn’t have a job! Notice I didn’t just say “customers,” I said “your customers.” By making a customer “yours” throughout the initial contact and rental procedure, you’re more responsible for him and his stay at your facility. Providing excellent customer service in self-storage can be tricky. We often only see our tenants when they sign or terminate their lease. We greet them if they come into the office to make a payment or buy retail products. But there might be months or even years between these contacts.

As a manager, how do you take advantage of the limited time you have with your customers to provide the best service possible? By getting to know them as well as you can. Ask them questions; be friendly and open.

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