Every self-storage operator has goals for their property, but few understand how very important it is to envision them, get them down on paper, track them and measure the results. In fact, how well you state your aspirations has a lot to do with your ability to reach and exceed them. It can make the difference between a hopeful dream and a satisfying reality.
Your facility sales targets should be a roadmap for success. Without a clear plan, including an appropriate timeline and course of action, you can hardly expect to reach your destination. You may know where you want to be, but you won’t know how to get there. The good news is there’s lots of guidance out there to help you along the way.
One tool I like to use in my self-storage business is the SMART method, which is helpful in creating strong goals in any area of life. Following this acronym, every objective should meet the following criteria:
Specific. When your goal is well-defined and unambiguous, it has a significantly greater chance of being accomplished. To make it precise, answer the five Ws:
- Who is involved?
- What do I want to achieve?
- Where will this be done?
- When do I want this to happen?
- Why do I want this?
A general self-storage sales goal would be something like “I want to close more rentals.” Here’s how it could be stated more specifically: “I want to rent a unit to 75% of my sales prospects” or “I want to rent X units per month.”
Measurable. You must have some criteria for measuring your goal progress. Otherwise, you won’t know if you’re on or off track. In the case of renting self-storage units, for example, you can count your number of sales prospects and track how many become tenants within a set period of time.
Achievable. It sounds obvious, but your sales goals should be attainable, not impossible. If it isn’t, you’ll only be frustrated and demotivated. You want to be challenged, not outright defeated. Ask yourself, do you have the resources and capabilities to reach this goal? If not, what are you missing? Have others been able to achieve these results?
In the case of unit rentals, take a look at the number of prosects and rentals at your self-storage facility last year. If you only rented 50 units last year, don’t expect to rent 200 this year. That leads us to the next criteria.
Realistic. Your goal should be within reach and relevant to your purpose. Is it achievable given your resources and time? Are you able to commit to it? Also, consider what’s happening in your self-storage market. Is there an increase in demand? Has a new competitor moved arrived that could disrupt your rental flow? You must be practical.
Timely. Your goal must have a clearly defined timeline, including a specific start and end date. You must create a sense of urgency, or you’ll be less motivated. In terms of your self-storage rental targets, you might set deadlines weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.
Vague goals only set you up for failure. SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely position you for success. This method pushes you, gives you a sense of direction, and helps you organize and reach your targets.
Industry-Specific Sales Goals
If you want your self-storage operation succeed, you must set SMART sales targets and track their progress. At my company, we’ve created a proprietary Excel workbook that allows our facility managers to easily input their sales data each day. Then they get automatically calculated numbers for net gain or loss, delinquency, income, sales-conversion ratio, box sales per lease, and other critical metrics. Here's a deeper look into some of the goals we track:
Conversion rate. By tracking the number of sales calls and walk-ins we get at each self-storage facility each day vs. how many become tenants, we can calculate our closing ratio. We set a goal of converting 90% of all prospects.
Income and expenses. Our annual budget sets targets for facility income and expenses. Each of our properties receives a cash-flow worksheet at the end of each month so our managers can see how well they performed against projections.
Delinquency. It’s vital to keep on top of past-due accounts in self-storage. We track them in a spreadsheet so everyone can see how many units are delinquent, how much revenue is lost, and what it costs to reclaim the space if it goes to lien sale.
Marketing. Our Excel workbook includes a tab for each manager’s personal marketing goals, which tracks all related activities and generates a monthly score. We provide a common set of definitions and measurements, though they can vary widely based on store budget, staffing and other factors.
Just Do It!
These are just a few of the sales goals we set and track as part of our self-storage operation. Our goal is to help our facility managers achieve their goals! We pull numbers for each property and compare them to the others in our portfolio, then we recognize reward those employees who exceed their targets. Those who underperform receive coaching and retraining to help them improve.
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas for creating your own sales targets and tracking tools. Turn everything into a number and then measure it daily, weekly and monthly. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve using the SMART method. Now get ready for next month to be on target and above budget!
M. Anne Ballard is president of training, marketing and developmental services for Universal Storage Group and the founder of Universal Management Co. She’s past president of the Georgia Self Storage Association and has served on the national Self Storage Association board of directors. She’s also participated in the planning, design and operation of numerous self-storage facilities. For more information, call 770.801.1888.