Most self-storage facilities experience a period during the month that managers refer to as “slow time” or “downtime.” For the most part, we have an opportunity to use that time productively, potentially earning an edge over the competition.
Many facilities have heavier traffic on weekends or days leading up to the weekend. Many stores, too, have workloads that pile up toward the end of the month or the first week of the month, depending on when rental payments are due. Most sites experience a seasonal period that is busier than others, such as the spring or early fall. How can we maximize these lulls in the business when our time-management skills are being tested for inspiration?
The majority of facility managers have a computer or access to a computer and the Internet. The Web has been a blessing and a curse to some owner/operators. To me, it's just another tool I can use to improve my life and productivity. Although I don't consider myself a high-tech person, I've become a little more comfortable around computers and their ancillary gadgets, and have gradually become more appreciative of their value.
The Internet is my new “university.” What do I mean by that? It allows me (and all users!) to learn more about almost anything and, for the most part, much of this education is free or for a very minimum cost.
Let’s talk about self-storage management specifically, and how we can make the Internet our own private university, where we can learn more about the industry and improve work skills.
There are numerous websites that focus exclusively on the business of self-storage and its intricacies. Since I'm writing for Inside Self-Storage, it’s only fair to talk first about www.insideselfstorage.com. Visit the ISS website, and you can access a world of information:
• Need to learn more about a specific subject? Look through the site's extensive article archive using the keyword search, or choose from a list of "Hot Topics."
• Need to know about a specific product or vendor? Check out the online Buyer’s Guide.
• Have a specific question you'd like answered quickly? Check out the online community and forum at www.selfstoragetalk.com. You'll be amazed at how many people will happily provide their answers and insights.
• Need some legal insight? Participate in one of the monthly Legal Learning webinars with Jeffrey Greenberger. You can register for free at www.insideselfstorage.com/webinars.
• Read free e-books on a wide range of subjects. This a great way to read a collection of articles that pertain to a particular segment of the business.
• Need to keep abreast of industry news? You’ll find it on the ISS home page.
• Last but not least, read the Storage Speak blog, as it can be entertaining and informative.
Now, to be fair, I have to mention that there are other industry sources offering informative articles, webinars, etc., but I'll leave it as a challenge for you to find them. But here’s a hint: Type “self storage” in a Web search engine and see what pops up. The resources are incredible.
Do Your Homework
Now that I've “discovered” this wealth of knowledge, what can I do with it? My suggestion is that when you are experiencing a slow period, go online and take a free course or download an e-book. If you were to study just one topic each day for as little as 20 minutes, think of how much better you would be equipped to do your job. If you spend time each day learning about new products, methods and approaches, imagine how much more interesting and motivating your career will be.
Your downtime can turn into productive time if you take some simple steps using the tools you have at your disposal to learn. Give it a chance. You don’t need to enroll in a private university to get a practical education. It just takes clicking around on the Internet to access a world of knowledge ... and it’s all at your fingertips.
Mel Holsinger is the president of Tucson, Ariz.-based Professional Self Storage Management, which offers self-storage facility management, consulting and development services. He is also a frequent speaker at industry conferences and a regular contributor to Inside Self-Storage. For more information, call 520.319.2164; visit www.proselfstorage.com.