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All About Storage 8220

July 2, 2007

4 Min Read
All About Storage

One of the major challenges facing storage owners and operators in the new storage generation is finding the right staff to administer day-to-day operations of their facilities. The ever-increasing competition, changing customer base and owner demands pose greater responsibilities for onsite personnel than ever before. This requires a higher level of expertise, motivation and energy to perform at an optimum competitive level.

What does this mean for owners, operators and potential employees? Where do we find qualified candidates, and how do we attract and recruit them?

Responsibilities and Traits

Before we can locate the right person for the job, we must first decide what were seeking. Begin by establishing job descriptions and determine the personality traits needed to successfully interact with the demographic customer base and within the organization.

These characteristics may vary somewhat for different market areas. Its important those interacting with customers have communication skills to relate adequately with customers. You wouldnt hire a person who only speaks French, for example, to sell storage units to an English-only clientele. Other characteristics are just as important: sociability, neatness, organization, etc.

Candidates also need to be trainable, willing to learn and adapt to the ever-changing storage environment in their market area. These individuals are polished and professional and think outside of the old ways of storage operations.

The new generation of managers is marketing-oriented and seeks customers outside of the facilitys offices. In other words, these individuals are involved in local community activities. They visit businesses and invite them to be storage customers.

Highly qualified managers know their customers and where to find them, and they strive to out-manage and service their competition. They must also be maintenance-oriented, able to recognize and fix items (or contract with someone who can) that may be costly to repair if unattended as well as prove to be an eyesore to potential tenants.

The Hunt Begins

Where do we find the right candidate to fill the requirements we have determined are necessary for the position? A good place to start is within your current employee base. Your employees know better than anyone what it takes to do the job and the expectations of the owner/operator. Consider offering an incentive referral fee to employees recruiting new hires.

Many find the right fit in retail, hotel, multifamily and hospitality industries. These individuals usually possess the personality traits and have training in sales and service that is conducive to self-storage management.

Check with storage-industry publications and industry associations about purchasing classified advertisements for available positions either in magazines, websites or bulletin boards. Placement agencies can also save time in interviewing and screening to limit the number of qualified prospects. They recruit, interview and refer only candidates that fit the qualifications and traits as determined by the owner/operator client. Finally, consider websites dedicated to employment. A Google search will probably yield numerous hits.

Once youve narrowed down the field and begin the interviewing process, you may want to subject candidates to personality and performance testing. Due to rising costs of recruiting, hiring and training employees, it is not uncommon for potential employees to request such testing prior to hiring. This helps in determining if people possess the qualities necessary to do the job. Many times an interview does not uncover negative traits or work habits that could be detrimental to the position. Numerous tests are now available for this purpose and can be located on the Internet or in bookstores.

The Package

Now that we have found the right candidate, what does it take to hire him? The compensation packages for storage managers have also evolved over the past few years. No longer are an onsite apartment and a small wage an enticement to a well-qualified prospect.

With extensive experience and training, top self-storage managers expect to be paid wages comparable to other industries. Although many positions still provide housing and utilities, it is common to also provide medical benefits as well as performance bonuses based on leasing and economic occupancies.

The hourly or salaried wages have also increased to attract a higher qualified individual. Plus, the industry is evolving from its mom-and-pop roots and doesnt necessarily seek husband-wife teams. Not to say a candidate cant be married, but the spouse is not a required part of the package.

Retention

Employee retention is vital in the success of any business. Ongoing training and support is an important factor in keeping employees loyal and happy. Open communication with supervisors helps maintain solid relationships within organizations. It is a known fact that employees are more loyal and productive when given the tools needed to be confident in their abilities to perform. Award programs, employee benefits, performance bonuses and promotion opportunities are just a few ways to attract and retain personnel.

Lets face it: The right employees are essential to the profitable success of any business. They are an investment that yields returns over and over. Take the time and expense to find the best manager possible to drive your occupancies and profits up. 

Cheryl Kelley serves as president of G & C Holdings Inc.s Innovative Management Solutions, providing self-storage consulting, management and training services. For more information call 972.396.0511; e-mail [email protected]

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