Self-Storage Training Institute Launches the Qualified Manager Program

Self-storage managers and employees can now obtain quality, low-cost self-storage education and training through the Self-Storage Training Institutes new online Qualified Manager Program.

Over the decades, the industry has cultivated state-of-the-art software packages, security technologies and building systems, making them readily available to self-storage developers. Now, with the help of the Self-Storage Training Institute (SSTI) and a computer, cultivating quality management skills is also readily available. In fact, a Qualified Storage Manager (QSM) designation is within arm’s reach. Just what does that mean for the industry ... and for you? Read on ...

Introducing: QSM

SSTI, owned and operated by Inside Self-Storage (ISS), has worked diligently to create an online, broad-based curriculum of essential self-storage management courses covering four core components including general self-storage information, fundamentals of operation, management and legal issues. Within each component is a series of specific courses that enrollees in the QSM program can complete within their own timeframes and around their personals schedules. In short, it’s a convenient, easy and affordable route to a quality education, provided by ISS, an organization that’s been in the self-storage industry for more than 17 years.

“Providing cost-effective education for owners and managers has been a problem for our industry since its inception,” says Jim Chiswell, an industry expert who has partnered with SSTI to launch the QSM program. “Even when you consider all the national, regional and state meetings, seminars and conferences that have been held over the past 40 years, the vast majority of owners and managers have never been in attendance. This is especially true for the small entrepreneurial owners who are the heart and lifeblood of this industry.”

Next month, thousands of self-storage owners and operators will travel to Las Vegas to participate in the largest expo in the industry, the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, Jan. 26-29. The conference has garnered a reputation for bringing the finest and most qualified industry experts to speak to audiences of all levels of self-storage experience. The education opportunities of attending such a tradeshow are abundant, but the price for attending can sometimes be too high for some small operators, who would have to close down operations for several days to participate.

“To me, SSTI and all online self-storage learning can never replace a live class or a tradeshow, because the interaction and the camaraderie are quite different,” begins Jeff Greenberger, an attorney and member of the QSM core faculty. “However, for those who want to seek a designation, or who cannot close their store for a few days to go to another city and take classes, the SSTI and its new QSM are a real breakthrough development.

“All classes are short and can be taken in one sitting, without closing the business, and you can pause them if the phone rings,” Greenberger continues. “To top it off, you learn from the best people around, the same people who would be speaking at the tradeshows.”

In this sense, for those seeking an education in self-storage management, the QSM program is like bringing the best conference in the world right to their desks. No plane tickets, hotel rooms or conference fees. Instead, enrollees can pay as they go, downloading course materials when time allows, and learning the tricks of the trade from the most knowledgeable in the field.

“Continuing education allows owners, operators and managers to keep up with the most current and successful trends in the self-storage industry,” says QSM faculty member Megan Eckert, executive vice president of “As the economy, industry and self-storage consumer changes, everyone needs to adjust the way they operate, market and evaluate their self-storage operations. Learning from industry experts and other operators is the best way to do this.”

Meet the Stars: The QSM Faculty

As with any winning program, it takes a team of highly qualified experts to make it a showstopper. Behind the scenes of SSTI is a cast of a dozen industry experts, all sharing a role to make the QSM program the most talked about educational opportunity of all time. Without further adieu, we’d like you to meet the self-storage professionals who’ve partnered with ISS throughout the years and are now allowing the QSM to make headlines. Introducing the SSTI stars:

Linnea Appleby has been actively involved in management and finance for 27 years and the self-storage for 10 years. She is the president of Sarasota, Fla.-based PDQ Management Solutions Inc., which specializes in self-storage facility management and services such as operational consulting, new-facility startup, property audits and the “Income Finder Service.”

Jim Chiswell is the president and managing partner of Chiswell & Associates LLC in Palmyra, Va., and has been involved in the self-storage industry for 23 years. He started his own consulting company in 1990, through which he has conducted countless feasibility and due-diligence studies for clients as well as prepared and presented customized manager training sessions. Prior to that, Chiswell was vice president of Sovran Self Storage, managing its portfolio of 34 facilities in 10 states.

Megan Eckert is the vice president of Omaha, Neb.-based Her marketing and information-technology background have helped the company achieve its rapid growth and become one of the premier Internet marketing firms in self-storage. Having analyzed years of online traffic and behavior trends of self-storage consumers, and having seen more than 5,000 facilities successfully implement Internet marketing, Ms. Eckert is equipped with knowledge every owner/operator must know to profit from the lucrative online marketplace.

Jeffrey Greenberger is a partner with the law firm of Katz, Greenberger & Norton LLP in Cincinnati, where he focuses on commercial real estate and real estate litigation. He represents owners of self-storage facilities and other property types. He also has a concentration in debtor and creditor rights. Mr. Greenberger is counsel to many state self-storage associations, a contributor to numerous industry publications and the voice behind the ISS Legal Learning Webinar Series.

Mel Holsinger is the owner and president of Professional Self Storage Management LLC in Tucson, Ariz., operating 42 facilities in five states. He has been involved in the self-storage industry since 1983, serves on the Arizona Self Storage Association Board of Directors and is a member of the ISS Editorial Advisory Board. He is a contributor to ISS magazine and speaks frequently at industry conferences and tradeshows. He is also a moderator for Self-Storage Talk, an online interactive forum for the storage industry.

Randy Johnston previously served as director of sales and development for Digitech International, which has provided comprehensive security tools for the self-storage industry for more than 25 years. Prior to joining Digitech, he spent 17 years in sales and served four years in the United States Coast Guard.

Jamie Lindau, the national sales manager of Trachte Building Systems, has spent the last 23 years helping property owners plan, develop, build and profit from self-storage. He is a regular contributor to industry publications as well as a speaker at national conferences and tradeshows. Drawing from his own experiences as a former self-storage business owner, he has conducted more than 200 self-storage development seminars for Trachte since 1988.

Tom Litton has managed more than 150 storage facilities in 11 states. A prolific writer, he has written more than 150 magazine articles for various self-storage publications as well as newspapers. Mr. Litton has conducted seminars worldwide on various self-storage topics including operation, management, develop-ment and ownership. His company, Litton Management & Consulting Inc., routinely conducts public seminars each year and is considered a leader in self-storage education and training.

Rick McGee has been working in the self-storage industry since 1999. In 2000, he joined forces with a team of developers and completed the Internet-based technology for Online Self Storage Inc., which allows owners and operators to process rentals and payments via their websites. In 2002, the company introduced Call Maximizer as the first transaction-based call center in the self-storage market.

Brad North entered the self-storage industry in 1989. Since then, he has excelled as an owner, general contractor, developer, general manager, trainer and consultant. He has built more than 350,000 square feet of storage, and trained and consulted with thousands of owners and developers throughout the world. His company, Advantage Business Consulting & Management, offers complete turnkey management services, currently managing more than 1 million square feet of self-storage nationwide.

Stephan Ross began his industry career in 1984 with National Self-Storage. He moved on to Executive Self-Storage as southeast regional director in 1987, and in 1996, he went to work for Extra Space Management of Salt Lake City, where he became vice president of operations in charge of feasibility studies, third-party management and facility operation in more than 10 states. Four years later, Stephan and his wife, Tammy, created Cutting Edge Self-Storage Management & Consulting.

Tammy Ross has more than 20 years of self-storage experience. As an industry consultant, she has extensive expertise in the areas of self-storage training and marketing. In 2000, she and her husband, Stephan, created Cutting Edge Self-Storage Management & Consulting, which manages properties in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Utah.

Randy Tipton owns and operates Universal Insurance, an entrepreneurial business that has created and provided specialized insurance coverages to the self-storage industry for 15 years. She is a seasoned industry professional with more than 30 years of insurance underwriting, marketing and management experience. Her industry knowledge has led her to be a moderator and instructor for a variety of educational forums.

Susan Weinman is the vice president of Yellow Page services for Phoenix-based Michaels Wilder, an advertising agency specializing in print and Internet Yellow Pages. She is a frequent presenter at self-storage tradeshows and has written articles for numerous trade publications.

Ray Wilson is an internationally recognized authority on self-storage investment analysis. He is president of Self Storage Data Services Inc. (SSDS), a research firm he founded in 1992. SSDS maintains a nationwide database of operating statistics on several thousands of facilities, tracking trends in the top 50 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas on a quarterly basis. Mr. Wilson’s speaking engagements have included Australia and Europe as well as regular appearances at conferences and tradeshows throughout the United States.

Ready to Enroll?

Click onto and head for the Qualified Storage Manager Program pages for full details and begin working on your designation today. If time and money is of the essence, and professional management is your ultimate goal, the QSM packages it all, promising to make you knowledgeable in all areas of self-storage management:

  • Phone skills
  • Marketing
  • Customer service
  • Site maintenance
  • Sales
  • Collections
  • Legal issues
  • Pricing strategies

“It is important as a responsible owner/developer/manager in the business to be aware of the changes in the environment to properly protect your assets in the most cost-efficient ways,” explains Randy Tipton, QSM faculty member and owner of Universal Insurance. “Knowledge is power. Having an awareness of our industry will benefit you tremendously as you grow your business.”

Having a professional degree such as the QSM designation to buoy your career and standing in this industry is even more important in today’s roller-coaster economy, explains faculty member Rick McGee. “As the economy shifts and changes, education is critical. Without ongoing education, people and positions become stagnant and unsuccessful. Education is the key to continual improvement and success.”

“President John Kennedy said that a ‘raising tide lifts all boats,’” adds Chiswell. “The QSM program improves educational opportunities for managers and owners across the United States and the world. By raising the education and profession-alism of everyone through this program, the entire industry can be raised to new heights.”

For more information and to enroll in the Qualified Storage Manager Program offered by SSTI, visit

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