Since the downturn began, many of us hoped and waited for the high season of storage to begin. We faced it with high hopes that rentals would jump again, people would move and our occupancies would climb.
Unfortunately reality has set in and we’re all realizing that, at least for this year, things in our industry will not be business as usual.
We went through a mini version of this in our area of the country during one of the many “dot-com busts,” and it hurt a lot of companies that depended upon the influx of people coming to the valley for jobs. This is not a new experience for many of us.
What happened back then was sad for many acquaintances in storage. Owners immediately determined their staff was underperforming, not that other indicators were affecting their business. Many highly motivated and caring managers lost their jobs, and those owners determined too late in the game what they had lost.
Granted with business remaining slow and price wars escalating around us, we should all be evaluating how we operate, what our peak times are for staffing, how we can cut costs without diminishing our product and more.
Staffing is, of course, a major cost component of running our stores. Refinancing is difficult, health insurance costs are rising, taxes in some states are increasing, etc. All in all, even with small increases in various budget-line items, this collectively can add up to some major dollars lost, or not gained at the very least.
If you're considering reducing your staff, take a good look around, survey your competition, read the industry reports and surveys. Take a peek at Self-Storage Talk forum's “list of hats” worn by the people manning the front counter as a starting point for evaluating your own staff.
The person at the front desk must be able to multi-task, evaluate various personality types and deal with each on a seconds’ notice to provide the best storage experience possible to that individual. A manager must be on top of the business and a marketing demon, sometimes while simultaneously fighting ownership for a couple hundred dollars to do that very same marketing.
Just scanning the other thread titles on Self-Storage Talk can give you a good idea of how hard good managers and owner/operators alike are trying to learn how to be the absolute best they can in this struggling economy.
Many of our industry leaders are surveying members for new ideas and concepts to help make the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, Oct. 5-8 in Washington, D.C., a more valuable experience for all attending. It’s a zoo out there, and unfortunately the customers are escaping. We all learn from each other and the bottom line is we need to keep our industry at the top of its game so we all win. It's a task we’re much better at if we join together and work as a team.