A Controlled Business Environment

September 1, 2004

3 Min Read
A Controlled Business Environment

A Controlled Business Environment

By Brad North

One effective way for self-storage owners to combat competitionin their markets and enhance the profitability of their facilities is to createan appropriate atmosphere of order and discipline in their operations. This willnot only hold staff accountable for their actions, it can motivate them toachieve their goals and objectives. One of the biggest differences between goodstorage operators and great ones is their ability to create such an environment.

Most owners need a better system to make their teamsresponsible for achieving results. For instance, it is imperative to track andmeasure key areas of a facilitys sales programsuch as how many callers andwalk-in prospects are being converted into rentersto improve the business inthe long term. Everyone involved in the selling effort should be aware of thisconversion rate and what is expected in terms of future outcomes. This will giveeach person a scoreboard, showing him where he stands on the performancescale. Its important everyone be involved in setting the standard andcreating the consistency needed to achieve long-term success.

One Month at a Time

One method of creating accountability is to set goals withinkey areas of the business. For example, you might set a monthly goal for unitrentals that is realistic but challenging. This will give your team an objectiveto work toward and help set the expectation in terms of acceptable andexceptional performance. Employees tend to like monthly goals, as they are moreimmediate and easier to track. If the staff has a challenging month, it can wipethe slate clean for the following month and look forward to refocusing itsefforts.

Providing a monthly storage goal also creates a way to measureresults and pinpoint areas for improvement within the sales program. Once weaknesses are recognized, additional training can beadministered to rectify them. This can take accountability to a higher level andultimately create an atmosphere of order within the organization.

Under Review

Most storage operators have a subjective review process forevaluating employees performance. This takes away from the semblance ofcontrol and often causes employees to be complacent in their jobs. For example, if a facility manager does not clearly understandhis job description and what is expected, he will probably not perform as wellas he would if he had control over his own destiny and the outcome of hisperformance review.

If appraisals are handled objectively, owners can develop muchneeded consistency in their operations and increase employee responsibility. For instance, consider a monthly audit/review that becomes apart of the annual performance evaluation. Areas to measure might be monthlystorage goals, telephone mystery-shopping scores, sales-conversion ratios,customer referrals and key-influencer referrals. Also examine administrativefunctions and other key areas of the business. It is important to measure items the employee can impactthrough his own efforts. This will give him a sense of control over hisoutcomes.

Success as a Journey

As self-storage markets across the county experiencesaturation, the average operator must find new methods of improving efficienciesand creating employee accountability. Economic occupancies have decreased,largely due to operators reactionary tendency to give away the storewhen competition moves into their markets.

The philosophy behind a self-storage operation and the mindsetof its owner determine its outcome. In other words, if the attitude of the teamis to be proactive and find ways to improve, it will weather any storm. Ifhandled properly, adversity can take operational performance to an entirely newlevel. The question is not whether competition will continue to increase, buthow to deflect its detrimental effects.

Success is a long-term journey. Its running your businessconsistently and well. Unfortunately, many operators feel they have alreadyarrived at their highest level of success. They become complacent and stagnant,and the competition passes them by. Always remember that success is not a finite destination but a continual effort.

Brad North is the founder of Advantage Business Consulting,which specializes in on-site sales, marketing, feasibility and operationaltraining for the selfstorage industry. He has produced two live videos and aworkbook titled Maximizing Your Sales and Marketing Program, which canhelp managers improve their sales and marketing efforts. He also launched ATelePro, a mystery- shopping service that assists in educating, evaluating andimproving the phone-sales performance of self-storage professionals. For moreinformation, call 513.229.0400 or visit www.advantagebusinessconsulting.com.

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