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Negotiating Your Compensation: Advice for Self-Storage Managers

Discussing your work compensation with a supervisor can be uncomfortable and intimidating, whether you’re negotiating an initial salary, a raise, a bonus or some kind of employment benefit. Here are some tips to help self-storage managers ease the conversation and get what they deserve.

If you’ve been thinking about asking your self-storage employer for a raise or a better bonus package, you may be wondering the best way to go about it. There’s a lot to consider, including what to say and how demonstrate that you’re worth more. Following is advice to help facility managers prepare for this all-important conversation.

The first thing to do is define your situation and goals. Are you looking for a new position and need to prepare for an interview, or are you currently employed and feel it's time to discuss a pay raise, bonus or benefits? Let’s examine the best ways to approach each scenario.

Negotiating for a New Position

If you’re in the market for a new job and interviewing with potential employees, your salary requirements will be part of the discussion. Though you may already have some idea about the wages and benefits the company offers from the job posting, ask the interviewer to clarify the compensation package. You’ll want to discuss your most recent wages and benefits and your expectations for the new position.

Does the company offer medical insurance as part of its standard benefits package, and how important is it to you? If it doesn’t, what can you bring to the table that’ll improve operation and revenue so insurance could be offered, perhaps at the end of your 90-day probationary period or once you’ve been employed for six months?

Be specific in your wishes and demonstrate how getting what you want will be a win-win for you and the company. It’s appropriate to discuss your goals and future plans during the interview, so you know where you each stand and how you’re going to work together to attain mutual aims. The interview is also a good time to discuss when you’ll receive employee reviews, whether at 90 days, six months or annually. Once employed, keep track of your achievements, so when it’s time to ask for a raise, you’ll be prepared.

Negotiating With an Existing Employer

Now, let’s talk about what to do if you already have a job in the self-storage industry and you just want to negotiate better compensation. Hopefully, you’re working with great people and have the confidence to ask for a review or meeting to discuss a pay raise or other benefits you may not be receiving. Even then, take a strategic approach. What should you ask for, and how should you ask it?

Before requesting a meeting, find your company’s employee-review forms (these can often be found online) and self-evaluate your job performance. This’ll help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and frame your argument for why you’re worth the company spending more money on you.

When you schedule your meeting, make sure it’s in a quiet, private area where you won’t be disturbed. You don’t want to do this in your management office where you’ll have to deal with the phone or walk-ins. Perhaps go to the corporate office (if there is one) or out to lunch. If your facility has a conference room, that works great!

When it’s time to meet with your owner or supervisor, dress professionally and show up prepared, just as you would for a job interview. This includes bringing management reports that illustrate your excellent track record and professionalism and prove you’re an asset to the operation. Characterize how your sales abilities and excellent management skills contributed to increased occupancy and revenue. Share the reports and your self-review, and then explain why you feel it’s time for a raise or upgrade in benefits.

Wages

If you’re looking for an increase in hourly or monthly wages, conduct local research to see what self-storage managers in your area are making. Is your salary in line with what’s being paid in your market or within your own company? How much have you increased annual income at your facility in the past year? Figure out what you believe is a fair raise and have that number in hand.

Bonuses and Other Perks

If it’s a new bonus program you’re after, be prepared with a plan. For example, if your facility doesn’t currently charge tenants an administration fee on new rentals, suggest that your company implement one and give you a percentage of the revenue it generates. Maybe you’d prefer a per-lease bonus, or one that awards you based on an increase in occupancy or ancillary sales.

Another common bonus plan used in the self-storage industry is one that awards a percentage of any increase in monthly income compared with the same month the previous year. It’s fairly standard to offer a manager 10 percent to 15 percent of any increase he manages to achieve. For example, if your facility income was $10,000 last May but $20,000 this May due to your marketing and sales efforts, few owners would have a problem rewarding a hardworking manager with a corresponding a bonus of $1,000 to $1,500 to enjoy that additional income.

Perhaps instead of cash, you’d like a vacation in Hawaii or a trip to see your parents or grandchildren. You could ask for airfare, hotel and car rental for a week if you achieve a certain goal. Maybe there’s a big-screen TV you’ve had your eye on. Perhaps you just want to take your spouse out for a nice dinner. There are lots of things an employer would be willing to provide for the right level of performance.

Benefits

Benefits are another issue. If you aren’t receiving health insurance and it’s important to you, then research rates and bring that figure to share during your meeting. Discuss what the company cost would be to provide this benefit to you as well as how you’re going to increase facility income over the next year to cover the cost.

A benefit can be any number of things, and each manager is motivated differently. Unless you give your employer an idea of what drives you to achieve, he’ll have to guess! Whatever it is you’re after, be prepared with documentation, articulate the goals you want to achieve, and provide a plan for how to reach them.

Pamela Alton is owner of Mini-Management Services, which has been placing self-storage managers in positions all over the United States since 1991. She also offers staff training, operational consulting, and facility audits and inspections. For more information, call 321.890.2245; e-mail pamela@mini-management.com; visit www.mini-management.com

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