By Cory Parrow
Do you regularly evaluate your self-storage staff to ensure you have top-quality people managing your product and customers? Or do you hear yourself making these comments:
- My manager has increased our occupancy and maintained a low delinquency, so I know hes doing a good job.
- Our facility is always clean and all the customers I talk to are very happy with my manager. She must be doing the right things.
- Occupancy is dropping and the facility is very dirty. What am I paying him for?
Are these measurable tools for determining the value of your managers? Do you use this type of intuition to reward or reprimand staff, or do you take the time to evaluate employees based on specific criteria?
Its so much easier to base your rating on facility reports and conversations with customers, but the position of facility manager has far more depth than simply renting units, collecting money, maintaining the site, and making friends with tenants. The success of a good, progressive manager wont always show up on a report. A formal evaluation process keeps everyone on point.
Building the Tool
The idea is to design an evaluation that covers the specific areas in which you want your company to excel. For example, if you want staff to demonstrate industry knowledge, rate their performance on how often they read self-storage articles, if they offer storage tips to customers, and how well they understand their competition. A manager whos confident about his products and services and can offer advice will make prospective customers comfortable with their choice. Likewise, if your manager can educate customers on how your operation is better than competitors, it will reinforce yours as the facility to trust.
Plan evaluations around the qualities you want to groom in employees. This will produce the results you desire. Devise an assessment that covers general qualities any good employee should possess such as promptness, teamwork, attitude, hygiene and enthusiasm. The evaluation should also include an understandable grading scale, such as a numeric scale from one to 10. Separate it into categories that will allow you and your employee to determine strengths and weaknesses.
Who Does the Evaluation?
As the boss, youre expected to complete the assessment, but asking your staff to first write a self-evaluation opens communication. Ask each employee to provide you a copy of his evaluation at least a day before you plan to meet. This allows you to review his ratings and compare them to your own.
You may find the employee is expending effort into the job of which you are not aware. Maybe hes reading industry magazines, participating in an industry forum, or attending webinars or seminars. This type of initiative might never be noticed if you dont create an open conversation.
When to Perform an Evaluation
The biggest mistake employers often make is failing to adhere to their evaluation schedule. An owner will tell a new employee he conducts evaluations every six months, but then find himself focused on other tasks and missing the window. Not only does this illustrate a lack of follow-through, the employer loses the chance to discuss the employees performance.
If the manager is doing a great job, hearing so will improve morale and produce even better results. If the boss is too busy to follow up with evaluations, the employee may start to feel like hes not valued and his great performance could start to diminish. He may even look for another job. Make the evaluation a high priority. Schedule it in writing and complete the task. It has the power to improve great employees or uncover those who need additional training.
Follow-through has tremendous impact on the evaluations effectiveness. If you simply complete the process and carry on with regular operation, it will not have any value. The evaluation must have purpose. It can be used to determine forward-thinking strategies in improving your operation and manager performance.
Maybe your staff has some great ideas havent heard, and your discussion during the evaluation develops into profitable brainstorming dialogue. Perhaps manager weaknesses become evident during the process. Create action items to tackle these areas, and then follow up in 60 days to evaluate the employees progress.
Most important, employee evaluations should be used to improve your company. If your staff is providing great service, reward them. If they need improvement in specific areas, its up to you to define whats needed and how they can be better. Employee evaluations offer self-storage owners and managers a chance to open communication and uncover ways to make the business a bigger success.
Cory Parrow is a consultant with Your Storage Team, a management company based in Southern Ontario, Canada. Your Storage Team specializes in management services and has been involved in the development of self-storage facilities for more than a decade. For more information, call 519.868.1982; e-mail [email protected].