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5 New Years Resolutions Every Self-Storage Owner Should Consider

The new year offers an opportunity to reflect and project about your self-storage business. It’s also the perfect time to set goals and think about how you approach the business. Guest blogger Tron Jordheim of Store Here Self Storage offers five business resolutions he believes every self-storage owner should consider.

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January 7, 2016

4 Min Read
5 New Years Resolutions Every Self-Storage Owner Should Consider

By Tron Jordheim

Take advantage of the new year and examine how you approach your self-storage business. The beginning of the calendar year is a great time to reflect and project. It’s also the perfect time to set goals for yourself and your business. Here are five resolutions I believe every self-storage owner should consider:

1. Put your employees first.

If you look at the companies you most admire, most would probably tell you they became admirable because they put their employees first. Your customers can tell if your employees are pleased with their jobs or not. It transmits over the phone; it comes through in e-mails; and it sure is obvious standing at the front counter, looking at them face to face. Your employees are in charge of valuable assets and make a huge difference every day in your ability to collect revenue, grow your customer base, maintain the property and stay protected from liability.

Every time you make a policy, create a workflow or set up a task, ask yourself a few simple questions: Does this help staff members do their jobs? Does this empower staff to be more self-sufficient and effective? Does this help employees feel more valuable to the organization? If the answer is yes to all three, you’re on the right path.

2. Put your customers second.

Do your customers feel valued, appreciated and even a little pampered? They should. Even if you have strict policies and push rate increases vigorously, your customers should still feel like they’ve made the best storage choice in the market and are dealing with the best people in the business. Customers don’t mind in the least if you run your business as a tight ship and try to maximize your revenue wherever possible as long as they feel like they’re getting a fair value and are being valued. It’s not that hard. Be nice to customers. Communicate with them a lot. Keep reminding them of all the reasons your storage facility is a great choice and how your staff is wonderful to deal with.

3. Think revenue rather than occupancy.

Would you rather be 95 percent full making 85 percent of potential gross revenue or 85 percent full making 95 percent of potential gross revenue? The answer should be obvious, but remember that the business mindset, policies and procedures, employee incentives and marketing focus differ dramatically between the two strategies. Don’t just say you want to focus on revenue over occupancy. Work to root out all the policies, procedures, sales language, marketing noise and everything else that promotes occupancy over revenue and adjust accordingly.

4. Make sure your phones are answered well.

I know I’ve preached about this for at least 13 years, but I still get voicemail when calling other businesses. I still hear interactive voice responses (IVRs) that have so many convoluted options that I can’t keep the press 1 from the press 5 straight in my head as I'm trying to make a choice. I still hear people answering my calls without a smile on their face. I still talk to “storage experts” who sound bored, uninterested and sometimes even uninformed.

I know everyone is excited about the promise of online rentals, self-service mobile-phone rentals, kiosks and so on, but your telephone is still the No. 1 driver of profit. Whether you're talking to prospective customers or current tenants, your phone tactics and skills can earn you a lot of extra money or make you sound terrible.

5. Great ready for the next shift.

Times are good for self-storage operators. Even if you completely ignore these five resolutions, you’re still going to make money in 2016. You might even make a lot of money this year. But as you know, the only constant is change. What’s next for our business? Will further mobile and wireless advances change how we operate? Will over-building come quickly or more slowly to your market? Will there be some changes in regulations or taxation that could rock our worlds? Will you need to stop thinking about operation and consider new development or acquisitions?

Will the Federal Reserve interest rate increase actually do anything to the financial side of our business? What new consumer habits will develop? Can consumers continue to spend under the increasing financial pressures they’re under? Will the 2016 elections mean anything to how self-storage does business or impact the economies in your markets? Will climate change have an effect on your business?

There is a lot to think about. As we move into the new year, I hope you take at least a few of these resolutions seriously and achieve your best year ever.

Tron Jordheim is business development manager for Store Here Self Storage, which operates 29 facilities totaling more than 2 million square feet. He has consulted for many self-storage companies and spoken at industry events in Canada, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Prior to joining Store Here, he spent 15 years as director of the PhoneSmart call center and chief marketing officer of StorageMart. For more information, visit www.storehere.com.

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