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10 Secrets to Hiring in Self-Storage: Learn the Keys to Success

By Susan Haviland Comments
Continued from page 1

The applicant’s tone of voice during the interview can be an indicator of his outlook on life. Be wary of whiners and complainers. Watch for confidence (not to be confused with arrogance) in their walk and talk. Also, consider that during the interview, the applicant is a guest. How did he handle this role?

4. Never Sell Your Organization

Interviewing should be about unfettered exploration, not persuasion. You shouldn’t sell your company, and the candidates shouldn’t sell themselves, either. What you’re after is an intelligent, adult discussion about what constitutes success within your organization and within the candidate's professional and personal life. The stories must be honest and appropriate.

5. Listen for Dissenting Voices

If everyone on your team loves your preferred candidate, something’s wrong. No hire is perfect, and there should be some dissenting voices around the table. What are the person’s weaknesses? These might not be critical, but they must exist. It’s better to identify them—and figure out how to accommodate them—early.

6. Perform Background Checks

Check references and backgrounds for your candidates during and following your second interviews. Confirm all claims by the candidate including education credentials, employment history and criminal background. Where possible, the best source of information is the applicant’s past supervisors.

7. Watch Salary Negotiations

How people manage money will tell you a great deal about how they’ll handle customers. If you don’t like what you see, pull the plug. If they state a dollar amount on the résumé and later change it during the interview, they may constantly be looking for a bump before it’s earned. Be careful of the 50-cent and hour “jumpers.” Check work history thoroughly.

8. Assign a Mentor

Most organizations are bad at explaining themselves. Each new hire should have someone he can turn to with questions—and this mentor shouldn’t be the boss. In fact, everyone in your company should be good at mentoring. After all, if you’re great with co-workers, you’re more likely to be great with customers. Mentoring new hires is also excellent leadership training for other staff.

9. Start With a Trial Period

You never know a person until you see him in action. This applies to the employee and the person hiring him. For both your sakes, agree to a joint review after one to three months. Provide honest feedback and ask for it in return. No new hire is ever as alert and insightful as he is at the beginning. Most companies lose all sense of how they come across to outsiders, so this feedback is precious.

10. Be Welcoming

How you welcome your new employee lays the groundwork for retention. Stay in touch with your new hire from the time he accepts the job offer until his start date, and then continue to build the relationship. Let co-workers know when the new employee will begin, issue a welcome letter, plan the onboarding process, and make sure the person feels warmly welcomed during the first days of work. If you do this effectively, you’ll have an excited employee who’s ready to set the world on fire.

Employee turnover costs time and money. Your goal should be to hire the right person the first time. Rather than rushing to fill a position, write a thorough job description and determine your staffing needs before the search begins. Make hiring your next self-storage team member a group effort and everyone will benefit.

Susan Haviland is the owner of Haviland Storage Services and a partner of industry consulting and training firm Self Storage 101. She has more than 27 years of industry experience, from serving as a site manager to acting as vice president of operations at Extra Space Storage Inc. and Price Self Storage. She's a frequent speaker at industry conferences and tradeshows. For more information, call 866.360.2621; visit

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