Being in a customer service business, we all know facility managers are the most important piece of the proverbial puzzle. Without a customer service-minded manager, your site will not be nearly as successful or profitable as it should be. That’s what makes hiring the right person for the job so important.
Consider the impact—positive or negative—one manager can have on the customers’ storage experience. Now multiply that by the average value of the customer at your facility. While most leaders or trainers think they know how to express the meaning of proper service to their managers, many times it gets lost in translation, or not followed up or measured.
In my visits to facilities throughout the industry, I have noticed that some managers care more than others about their customers and the services they receive. Those are the managers you want at your facility. Sales techniques can be taught, but energy and a customer service frame of mind is ingrained in the personality. The more educated our customers become, the more they will demand this type of manager.
Finding Qualified Applicants
You should always be on the lookout for your next manager. I pay close attention to employees in the department and groceries stores where I shop and restaurants I frequent. These are the type of people already in the customer service frame of mind, and you have the ability to see them in action and what they could possibly do for your business.
In order to hire the right manager for your facility, you need to have a consistent process, formal or informal, to ensure you are asking the right questions and really getting a good feel for the person you are interviewing. First and most important is filling the position in a timely manner. If you receive a two-week notice from an employee, or know you want to replace someone, you need to place an ad quickly.
There are several places where you can place ads for free to get good, quality candidates. For example, posting fliers at senior centers, neighboring apartment complexes and even CraigsList.com have been successful avenues for several companies. You do not need a $600 ad to get a quality manager.
As you start receiving calls and resumes, call the prospects the same day if possible. You want to take the good prospects off the market first, so they stop looking at other opportunities. Not calling good candidates promptly is a common hiring mistake.
Start with a phone interview. Because much of the job will entail phone skills, it’s a good way to measure the applicant’s abilities. When speaking to the candidate, have a brief list of questions about basic qualifications. The call should only last five to seven minutes.
Your objective is to listen for energy, phone etiquette, rate of speech and clarity. Score each interviewee so you can narrow down the list to interview a few in person. Conduct the in-person interviews the same week if possible. Again, have a sense of urgency to get the good ones off of the market and in your business.
When conducting the interview, have a list of questions ready, and ask all candidates the same questions. None should refer to age, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, marital status or disability status. These questions could expose you to some serious legal issues. All of your questions should be related to the self-storage business and the position you’re filling.
While conducting the interview, take good notes and watch body language. You can tell if a person is holding back or not telling the complete story. This is also the time to determine if the person is an introvert or extrovert. You do not want an introverted person selling the products in your business. Extroverts make the difference in closing the sale for the customers on the fence because of price. Extroverts are worth their weight in gold!
Before offering the candidate the job, conduct a criminal and credit background check on your future manager. These checks can be relatively inexpensive and conducted quickly. You’ll also uncover any problems before they happen.
Finding a solid and energetic manager for your property begins with the hiring process. Before you fill your next position, consider how you find qualified applicants and your interview technique. Follow the steps outlined above to ensure you hire the best. Your facility’s success depends on it.
Brian Byrd is the vice president of sales and marketing for Landvest Corp., a property-management company based in Wichita, Kan., offering third-party management, feasibility studies, consulting and development services to the self-storage and multi-family housing industry. He has spoken nationally for the manufactured housing and self-storage industries. Landvest currently manages nearly 60 self-storage facilities in the United States. For more information, call 316.634.6510; e-mail [email protected].
The Interview Questions
Always have a prepared list of questions ready. The questions should never center on age, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, marital status or disability status. Instead, ask questions that will help you gather information about the employee’s qualifications, work ethic, attitude and future goals. Here are some questions you should consider:
- What motivates you to do your best work?
- How do you handle situations with difficult customers?
- What makes a job enjoyable?
- What is your greatest strength and weakness?
- Tell me about a work situation that required excellent communication skills.
- How do you handle pressure and stress?
- What is the most difficult work situation you have faced?
- How do you manage a large amount of work in a short period of time?
- If you’re having a problem with a supervisor, co-worker or customer, what do you do?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What are your goals for the next five years?
- How long do you see yourself working for this company?
- Do you consider yourself successful?