Structured Employee Evaluations: 5 Phases to Self-Storage Profitability

Once youve hired and trained a great self-storage manager, how do you inspire and motivate him to consistently meet your performance goals? One way is through regular, structured employee evaluations.

By Aycha Williams

Is your self-storage investment a profitable one? As a self-storage owner, you know there are many essential components to a facilitys success. Location, unit/price mix, curb appeal, targeted marketing, revenue management, budgeting, property debt, operations and your site managers all play a part.

Among these many components, how would you rate the importance of having the right managers in place? Its absolutely fundamental to have site managers with the right skill set and abilities to make your business profitable. You might have everything else right, but if your managers dont know how to sell and manage your property, your investment will not pay the expected returns.

Having managers who are motivated, friendly and accomplished in the art of selling while operating your property as their own is the first step to success. Step two is training and certifying your team to ensure they have all the tools they need to reach their monthly goals on various defined parameters such as occupancy, late fees, merchandise and insurance sales, and providing excellent customer service.

If youve hired and trained great managers, what happens next? How do you keep the momentum so you can ensure the continuity of high occupancy numbers and profit? How do you inspire, encourage and create an environment for managers to be constantly motivated to hit their targets? One way is through consistent and structured employee evaluations.

A Great Tool

As owners, upper management or supervisors, were looking for ways to keep employee performance at the upmost level. A well-formulated evaluation program is a great tool to guide your employees and keep their performance top notch. It will give managers a guideline for:

  • Success: A structured evaluation system will define the job description and outline, in detail, monthly and yearly goals, associated bonuses, and any consequences for underperformance. If your managers dont know what the expectations are, how can they work toward a goal?
  • Career advancement: A well-formulated system will also include a step-by-step goal/milestone description for long-term career advancement, as well as a clear description of the criteria and company regulation for termination.

An employee-evaluation program with a strong framework is the next logical step for the profitability of your storage business. Whats your companys process? How often is it done, and do you find it effective? My company's program includes five phases completed over the course of the fiscal year. Heres a breakdown of each.

1. Monthly Call Evaluations

The monthly evaluations of our site managers aim to keep track of their sales and customer-service abilities. After we provide the necessary training and certification, we want to make sure our managers continue to apply those skills on an ongoing basis.

Weve found a good way to evaluate the performance of our managers at a facility level is by randomly evaluating actual incoming sales and customer-service-related phone calls from prospects and existing customers. Incoming calls are automatically recorded and evaluated for service and sales abilities. This way were able to award managers who regularly receive the highest score. We do this by tying their call-evaluation score into a comprehensive bonus program.

Were also able to find out if a manager is scoring poorly, whether once or repeatedly. Were then able to address it in a timely manner via further training, testing and evaluation. Monthly evaluations help our teams to be proactive in addressing both positive and negative performance to further develop their accomplishments.

2. Monthly Property-Performance Reports and Evaluation

Our system is set up so that each manager receives the property goals for the following year at the end of each financial year. The monthly goals are then tied to a bonus program. Our managers receive ongoing updates that show how theyre performing in regard to their goals on a year-to-date basis. The reports also become a part of the quarterly evaluation for each employee.

3. Audits

Facility audits are also part of our employee-evaluation process. Shared with the site staff, the audits allow both the managers and their supervisors to attend any issues that may be present. Employees are then given sufficient time to correct any areas, and then the issue at hand is re-evaluated. Total score/performance from these audits goes into the quarterly employee-evaluation file.

4. Quarterly

Since the monthly evaluations and audits are based on a point system, the quarterly employee review provides a good summary of performance and alerts us to any additional training needs. Our managers are able to provide feedback and share their insights on their facilitys performance and maintenance needs.

At this time, theyre also encouraged by their supervisors to give further feedback on their level of satisfaction and happiness for us to be able to provide guidance on any issues they may have. The point system ties into further training opportunities within the year for career advancement, as well as providing quantifiable data in the case of termination.

5. End of Year

The end-of-year evaluation measures the overall performance of employees for promotions and additional bonuses. Our system is most appreciated by our employees, as it shows our commitment to continuously help our team grow their careers and lifestyle.

Weve found employee evaluations give us the feedback thats crucial for us as a self-storage management company to maintain the best performance from our staff. Evaluations also help us stay in touch with our managers day-to-day lives at the facility level. Finally, having a framework provides us with a road map to tackle any performance issues constructively while supporting our team and reinforcing positive performance.

Always remember that qualified employees who are happy and motivated are your team members on your path to profitability.

Aycha Williams is a marketing and training strategist for AC Commercial Property Management, which currently manages more than 1.2 million square feet of self-storage and other commercial holdings in Florida and Texas. She has more than 15 years of commercial real estate, high-tech and consumer-products marketing experience. For more information, call 407.647.9800; e-mail [email protected]; visit .

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