Far too many self-storage owners are risking their assets by using untrained or poorly trained facility managers. There are also several myths surrounding the concept of manager training in the industry. Lets break them down and uncover the truth.
Myth 1: My Managers Dont Need Any Training
Most facility owners believe any sort of systematic training is a waste of time. When you ask a group of owners how many of them have a manager-training program, the number of raised hands is woefully small. Many are leaving too much to chance when it comes to ensuring their facilities are managed effectively and profitably.
Its incomprehensible that an entrepreneur would develop or invest in self-storage and then turn his assets over to people with no formalized training. The idea that any person hired to manage a facility would naturally know how to rent space, collect money or do any of the other tasks necessary to effectively manage the site borders on ridiculous. Unfortunately, many owners believe just that. Their training program is like Moses at the Red Seathrowing up their hands and hoping for a miracle.
Myth 2: I Can Train My Managers Myself
No, you cant. You wont. You shouldnt. For reasons that might seem illogical, theres something magical about having an outsider conduct training for your managers. I dont know why, but it's true. Making training a special event and bringing in an outside teacher is much more effective than throwing in some occasional tidbits in the midst of all the other communication you have with your managers.
The fact is most owners just are not very good at training their managers. They dont have the experience, personality, resources or systems that a training professional or company can bring to the table. The most successful people in this or any industry keep their egos out of the way and realize they dont have to be the smartest man or woman in the room. Dont let your ego keep your self-storage organization from succeeding at the most professional and profitable levels.
Myth 3: I Trained My Managers Years Ago and That Was Enough
Really? Considering the highest-paid athletes in the world attend spring training every year, its obvious your managers need regular training as well. Youre fooling yourself if you believe otherwise. Everyone gets rusty, forgets, or needs a refresher or update on the latest and the greatest. Your managers need that as well.
Can your managers really maintain a high level of professional sales skills or collection efforts with the training you provided all those many months or years ago? No. For you to expect that of them is unfair and naïve. You cannot expect your staff to keep up with the industrys best practices and techniques if the only training they received was that lame book or CD you gave them when they first started years ago.
Myth 4: There Are No Good Training Options
Between the national and state self-storage associations, industry conferences, and the plethora of vendors who offer various training webinars, books, workshops, etc., there are more than enough high-quality training options available in the self-storage industry. To believe there are none available is mindboggling. (By the way, the so-called training program you developed is not a good option.)
Do you have access to the Internet? Then use it. Type in "self-storage training" and youll be overwhelmed with the choices. Your state association has resources. Take advantage of the conventions and meetings all around the country. Send your managers to local training opportunities. Closing your facility for a few hours during the middle of the month wont destroy your business. It will allow your managers to learn how to rent more space and collect more money, which will be well worth it.
Myth 5: My Managers Were Trained Before I Hired Them
Hah. Do you really believe the other seven or eight self-storage companies on your managers résumé did any better at training him than you can or will? Instead of a super-trained superstar, its more likely youve inherited years of bad habits. Since most owners have the same beliefs about training that you do, it would be unbelievably risky to believe your new experienced manager is already well-trained.
You would be far better off to hire managers with sales experience instead of industry experience. You need managers with an outgoing personality, not a jaded one. Hire employees with superior customer skills, not those who believe past-due customers are deadbeats. Hire people who know how to effectively answer the phone, not those who cant function without their cell phone.
Training Top Five
So what kind of training should you provide your self-storage managers? Heres a breakdown of the top five elements that should be included in every program:
- Sales training: This should include how to answer the phone, manage leads and effectively turn more of your prospects into tenants.
- Collections training: This consists of ways to maximize revenue, document efforts and reduce lien actions.
- Time management: This includes how to stay organized, work more efficiently and get everything done.
- Customer service: This training encompasses acting proactively, reducing customer complaints and producing a superior customer experience.
- Revenue management: This includes implementing rent increases, reducing discounts and concessions, and improving ancillary goods and services income.
You have a self-storage asset that may be worth millions. Isnt time you started treating it that way? Use the industry resources available and implement an effective and professional manager-training program today. Quit leaving your success to chance.
Bob Copper is the partner in charge at Self Storage 101, an industry consulting firm that assists facility owner/operators and managers in developing more effective and profitable operational systems. It also aids in conducting performance reviews and providing the necessary tools to perform at higher levels in a competitive industry. To reach him, call 866.269.1311; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.selfstorage101.com .