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Guidance, anyone?

It isn't unusual for me to receive phonecalls and e-mails from people who are new to the self-storage industry or those seeking guidance in particular development/operational matters. I probably get an average of five to seven communications of this nature every day. While I'm happy to assist when I can, I'm not an industry consultant, and I don't always have access to the right resources. Furthermore, many of these inquiries overlap, so I thought it might be helpful to get them answered in a public space where more readers can benefit.


Now that we've got the blog going, I'll start posting some of these queries online. I'll provide whatever information I can, and then we'll see if members of the self-storage community can't help each other out with feedback through the blog. I realize this isn't the same as a web-based forum per se, but it still facilitates virtual conversation.


So, here's a message I received this week. Sharon E. wants to know:


I just read with great interest an article on your site by Pamela Alton titled "Managers' Wages: What Are Owners Paying?" I am curious as to your feedback on self-storage managers and the rate of pay if you're not on salary or hourly wage but paid in percentage of revenue collected for the week. Is this practiced elsewhere? And if so, how successfully? My husband and I are the resident managers at a fairly old facility, which just saw two new facilities from other companies open within a 10-mile radius. This has, of course, dampened our income potential and is of concern. Any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated.


I can't say how a majority of managers are being compensated these days. I imagine every owner and management company handles the issue of salary differently based on the market and structure of their business. With competition increasing nationwide, owners are seeking ways to keep managers invested and motivated. Tying your wages to facility performance is a smart strategy for keeping the fire under your feet; but it also means you're shouldering a large portion of the owner's risk.


In short, the pressure's on. You need to build a repertoire of marketing tactics that will keep your facility at the forefront of prospects' minds. And let's face it: Even if you are making the most of every possible avenueface-to-face meetings with local businesses, special events, networking, direct mail, e-mail newsletters, display advertising, signage, etc.your revenue could still suffer.


I understand Sharon's concern, and it seems to me she has only a few options:


1. Bolster her marketing efforts to battle the potential errosion of profit at her storage site.

2. Re-negotiate her compensation package with her owner.

3. Find a new position with a company that sets wages differently.


Does anyone have any other advice or insight to offer?


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