What Is a Self-Storage Manager?, Part 1
By Gina Six Kudo
Let’s define what a manager is. The word manager denotes an individual who’s in charge of a certain group of tasks, or a subset of a company. What’s an individual? An individual is a single human being. Yes, the word manager is a noun, and we all learned in grade school that a noun is basically a person, place or thing. Now let’s dissect this a bit more.
Is a manager a thing? No, a manger is an individual, therefore, a human being. Does everyone agree that we have defined manager succinctly? Now, please allow me to share an unpleasant experience with you.
At the recent Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, I was with a wonderful group of people gathered at the Self-Storage Talk lounge. As person after person came up, asked about SST and signed up, one man left a sour taste in our mouths. Yes, it’s true, we met the owner from hell. We don’t know who he was. He had his name badge turned around backward, to protect the guilty, I presume.
Let me set the scene for you. It’s day one of the Exhibit Hall, day two of the ISS Expo. SST members are milling about waiting to welcome new members to our group. This man walks up and asks, “Is this Inside Self-Storage?” I pointed to the next booth where Editors Teri Lanza and Amy Campbell were “manning” the ISS booth and told the gentleman, “That is the ISS booth.” He then clarified and asked about SST. As I was attempting to explain to him that Virgo and ISS are the entity behind SST he muttered something mid-sentence and walked away. Well, excuse me. I was attempting to answer his question concisely so as to avoid confusion. Oh, well.
About an hour later, as I chatted with two other SST members at the booth, Mr. Happy returned, plopped down on the leather sofa and started to grill SST Community Manager John Carlisle. At one point in the conversation, John turned to me for input. Uh-oh, I’ve already gathered this guy is the kind who probably doesn’t think highly of women in general.
John shared with me (I’m standing closest to them) that this man is concerned about his employees wasting time on SST. Being me, and since my first interaction with this man wasn’t very pleasant, I tried to turn on the charm and explain why SST is important. Oops, I should have chosen my words more carefully. On the spot and shooting from the hip, I said, “Well, instead of your employees wasting time doing something like playing solitaire …” It was all I managed to get out. The man immediately said, “If they’re playing solitaire, they’re fired!” as he gathered up his things. As he stood, he said, “This is bull*!” We were about eye to eye and my tongue got the better of me. My response was unfettered and instantaneous: “Managers are NOT slaves!” (Definition of slave: a person is the property of and wholly subject to another; a bondservant.) All present in the SST lounge were flabbergasted by his attitude!
Why was he even at the Expo? I haven’t a clue unless he thought there would be vendors present offering chains and shackles. You know the type, he’s the one that provides a singlewide mobile home with cardboard windows and a blackjack roof, and is appalled when people expect a paycheck also for the privilege of running his business. Someone should clue him in about the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
I guess we should feel for the man as he obviously has some problems. I wish I were more compassionate in this regard, but somehow, I’m not finding that compassion at this time. Maybe if he let people in, got to know them instead of cutting off conversations before they began …
Maybe in a decade or so, people in our industry will be treated across the board as the valuable employees, I mean the real human beings they are. Until then, to our esteemed peers who work for the “Owner(s) from Hell” from the more fortunate among us, you have our collective deepest sympathies. I truly wish someone could explain this type of mentality this particular man possesses, as I don’t understand it. I believe everything boils down to the Golden Rule: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.
Gina Six Kudo is the general manager of Cochrane Road Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif. She has more than 15 years of self-storage experience, and a strong customer-service and sales background.