By Joel Little
No one can predict the future. If we could, its assured wed make better plans to ensure that prediction would come true. In the self-storage industry, we do our best to predict how each quarter is going to be, but it doesnt always go as planned. Wouldnt it be great to know what each three-month interval will show in terms of profit and growth before they happened? No one would say no to this question. One of the hardest things to predict is how many people youll need for any given season to run your business. If its time to hire a new employee or two, you should do that earlier rather than later.
As storage professionals we do our best to predict what the next season will look like. We look at the last year or two to see what kind of growth or loss we had to get an idea of what this season will hold. We dont want to find ourselves with too many employees if the season is slow, or too few it its busy.
Its sure theres not a lot of envy for the person who tries to forecast the amount of people that could be needed for the months to come. That doesnt mean you should go out and hire just anyone. That would be a bad decision. It takes too much time and effort to train employees to have them quit or not fulfill your requirements so choose wisely when it come to hiring.
Determining your staffing needs for the upcoming season is not an easy task, so heres just one idea that may help. Consider hiring a couple of part-time people with the understanding of if business is slow, theyll be sent home early or asked not to come in. Depending on the structure within your self-storage company, part-time employees will not get certain benefits such as health insurance and vacation pay. Youre not also required to give them 40 or more hours a week to work. Training can be simple and to the point. Also, there are many temp services that place people who know theyre not guaranteed an abundance of hours.
With these employees, you can focus their tasks on things the manager doesnt necessary have to take care of such as facility maintenance, changing locks, cleaning the office, some paperwork and more. These temp associates can alleviate some of the busy work for the property manager so he can focus on the customer.
Remember, if you do decide to add staff, dont just hire warm bodies to fill the space. Hiring people who want the job but who are not qualified will not help you or your business. The amount of time invested into this employee without getting the return you expect will set you back time and money.
Joel Little is the head sales coach at PhoneSmart, a self-storage call center and marketing firm. He's been in the self-storage industry for more than five years, and has been in retail management for more than a decade. He strives daily to help improve the self-storage industry one call at a time, gaining insight from each customer.