All right, we’ve heard enough about goals and resolutions for 2016, haven’t we? What if we just don’t feel like waxing all sanguine about the New Year? We know the months ahead will hold challenges as well as victories, so best we think ahead and attempt to be prepared.
To that end, let’s talk about the things self-storage operators are dreading to deal with in 2016. I’ve come up with eight, as well as some resources to help you tackle them head on. Feel free to add ones I’ve missed in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Now, let’s get our grump on! Grrrrr.
Dread 1: Late Payers
Dang those pesky delinquents! Why don’t they just cough up the cash already?! Self-storage is a bill like any other. You wouldn’t expect to skip your rent or mortgage without consequences. If you don’t pay your electric bill, the utility company turns off your lights. So why do customers sometimes act as though paying their storage rent is optional? And then they get mad at YOU when you charge them a fee or seek a higher remedy! Grumble, grumble.
Past-due accounts are the worst, as they directly impact facility revenue, which drives everything else. This might even affect your personal wage or bonus, so you need to get it under control. Here are a few things that might help:
- SEMINAR: Money In: Recovering Self-Storage Debt
- ARTICLE: 5 Steps to Keeping Self-Storage Collections to a Minimum
- SLIDESHOW: Go Get That Rent! A Self-Storage Manager's Guide to Collecting Money and Avoiding Defaults
Dread 2: Emotional Customers
Most self-storage operators don’t have a degree in psychology. You can always offer a sympathetic ear, but sometimes you just aren’t equipped to manage customers’ expressive outbursts. There are all sorts of situations that can be uncomfortable and tough to handle, like a customer’s excessive anger or grief, or romantic advances. Yikes! Maybe these will help you diffuse a difficult situation:
- ARTICLE: The Do’s and Don’ts of Handling Difficult Self-Storage Customers
- VIDEO: Keeping Your Cool in Heated Situations: Communicating With Customers and Co-Workers
Dread 3: Broken Stuff
From roof leaks to faulty gates, sticking roll-up doors to buggy software, things that don’t function or look as they should can be a constant pebble in your shoe. They might negatively impact your facility’s curb appeal, which could result in turned-off customers; or they can actually put a wrench in your operational works, wreaking all kinds of havoc. Broken stuff needs to be fixed, which means time out of your day and cash out of the facility coffers. Harumph! Try some of these solutions:
- ARTICLE: How to Handle Property Damage at Your Self-Storage Facility
- SLIDESHOW: Spring-Cleaning Spruce-Up: Improving Your Self-Storage Facility’s Appearance and Function
Dread 4: Pests
Ah, those pesky critters, sneaking into your storage units, munching and defecating on tenants’ belongings. Whether it’s ants, mice or something worse, pest problems simply can’t be ignored. Not only will they cause upset tenants, they’ll give you a bad rap. Besides, pest infestations are just plain gross. Blech! Get things under control with advice from these resources:
- ARTICLE: No More Pests! Prevent and Tackle Infestations at Your Self-Storage Facility
- VIDEO: Pest-Management Practices in Self-Storage
Dread 5: Competition
Thoughts that run through the mind of your average self-storage operator on the topic of competition: No other facility should be allowed to operate in OUR market … evarrrr! I know we live in a “free” country and all, but I’m tired of these latecomers busting into my ‘hood and picking off my customers, forcing me to offer discounts and grovel for box sales. Don’t they know we are the BEST, and we need the mula more than they do?! Competitors, BEGONE, and never show your greedy countenances around here again!
There’s competition in the world, folks. You gotta deal widdit. Maybe these will help you cope:
- ARTICLE: A Self-Storage Manager’s Guide to Understanding the Competition: Pricing, Amenities and More
- VIDEO: Studying Your Self-Storage Competitors and Leveraging the Data
Dread 6: Increasing Expenses
Yeah, this’ll happen. It probably won’t occur in all areas; and if you’re smart, you regularly shop your services and do your best to keep costs in check. But some things are simply out of our control or difficult to contest, like property taxes or utilities. I don’t know about you, but at my house, it seems like some bills automatically go up every year and little to be done about it. Crud. The following will give you ideas to avoid too much cost creep:
- SEMINAR: Money Out: Controlling Self-Storage Expenses
- VIDEO: Tactics to Reduce Your Self-Storage Property Taxes
Dread 7: Disasters
Whether natural or man-made, disasters can strike anywhere at any time. We’ve all read stories about break-ins, fires, floods, hurricanes, and ever more horrific incidents that damage self-storage facilities, tenant goods and business reputations. The whole point is you don’t know they’re coming. Just the anticipation is enough to keep you up at night. Yawn! Maybe these will help you rest a little easier:
- ARTICLE: Dealing With a Crisis: Sound Advice for Facility Managers
- VIDEO: What to Do When It All Goes Wrong: Disaster Planning and Crisis Management for Self-Storage Operations
Dread 8: New Technology
OK, so technology is supposed to be a good thing, and it certainly can be. But be honest … Don’t you sometimes dread having to learn a new system or tool? When will the deluge end?! Sorry, but not any time soon. We are living in a technological world, and we are a technological girl. (Thanks, Madonna, for instilling THAT tune in my head for perpetuity. Doh!) Advancements can be intimidating, but adaptation usually isn’t as awful as you might think. Perhaps the following will help you keep an open mind:
- SEMINAR: How to Maximize Your Self-Storage Technology Investment
- ARTICLE: 3 Ways Self-Storage Owners Can Leverage Technology to Improve Their Operation
So there you have it: eight things most self-storage operators are simply not eager to face this year. I don’t blame you. Your job can be truly taxing. Being prepared maybe lessens the anxiety, though. Want to add to this list? Simply click the “comments” link below!