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Performance Checklist: Measuring the Operational Health of Your Self-Storage Facility

By Andrew Kelly Jr. Comments
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The weekly walk-through to compare your actual unit inventory to the computer inventory should be done after a weekend or holiday. This exercise will give the manager an idea of unit movement and inventory, and the ability to catch errors and evaluate rents. Once a year, all required paperwork should be matched against rented units, as missing leases may indicate sloppiness.

Expenses

Expense control is just as important as revenue generation. Payroll and taxes are major categories for evaluation. Can the site operate with one full-time and one part-time manager vs. two full-time managers plus a relief manager? Are you in control of overtime, or is the manager allowed to work unchecked and submit payroll without prior approval?

Real estate taxes can also drastically affect operational performance. If your taxes have increased, have you given any thought to a real estate tax appeal? Is your city/county tax assessor evaluating taxes on sales or income of your site? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out, as the savings can be significant.

Rental Rates

Discounts and a failure to raise rental rates can and will drastically affect your economic occupancy. Market rates and specials should always be on the radar, and it’s your manager’s job to keep up with the local submarket pricing. If the market is charging higher rates, your site will be missing out if no one is paying attention.

Today’s software allows for pushing rates up or down with little effort from the manager. It can send automatic rent increases based on parameters set by the owner. There are still operators who like to handle increases the old way by evaluating each tenant, but this is a waste of time and effort when it can be done automatically. That said, there are times when you might need a special to fill slow-moving units or those with high vacancy. This is when discounts can be used to get tenants in the door, but make sure you program all specials with an auto-ending date.

Online Presence

If your store doesn’t have a professional website, you’re leaving money on the table. Hire a website developer immediately. Prospective tenants are trolling the Internet whether they live next door, across town or around the world. The younger generation doesn’t use Yellow Pages. They shop for their every need on the Internet, often from a smartphone.

Many operators use various social media apps and lead-generators to drive tenants to their website. Embrace change and build a website today or upgrade the current one to add all the bells and whistles. Your website is the first important impression a prospective tenant gets of your business, so invest the money to do it correctly.

The above categories are just a few gauges of facility functioning. They can be used to set owner and manager goals as well as for strategic planning. As always, the manager is the key ingredient here. A happy employee is a happy performer who strives to improve your business’ financial and operational performance.

Andrew Kelly is principal of Sierra Self Storage Consulting LLC, which was founded in 2004 to help new and existing facility operators enhance their return on investment. The company offers facility brokerage, consulting for new development and due diligence, facility audits, owner and staff training, and property management. For more information, call 520.323.6169; visit www.sierraselfstorageconsulting.com.

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