December 1, 2000

3 Min Read
Managing Business Growth

Managing Business Growth

How to utilize simplicity and respect in advancing your business

By Stan Colona

Ifyour ultimate goal as a self-storage operator is to develop your business to asignificant-sized operation, you will need to pay special attention to themanagement of some often overlooked but important areas. There are a variety ofinternal and exterior variables that will determine whether a business will growand prosper. External forces include competition, demand for your product andthe supply of capital. The internal forces are likely to be more controllable,and include staff and operations.

One day, during an orientation training of middle-managers at one company Iworked for, the CEO and founder of the company came in to join our group. Whenhe entered the room, we all felt his presence. His stature in the company andthe industry was well-known. He immediately established a comfort level andapologized that he would not be able to spend the entire day with us. He had,however, come to tell us two very important things, and he hoped these conceptswould guide us through our careers as business people and leaders. He said,"First, some people make this business real hard. But it's real easy. Werent little garages--lots of little garages. The second thing I want to tell youis: Take care of your people and your people will take care of you."

For many years and through three job promotions I allowed those words toguide me. As I became more effective at managing larger portions of the company,I began to realize how to best apply these concepts. Keeping things simple andestablishing mutual respect with your team members are basic but crucial ideas.The art lies in their application to your business.

During a company's growth, the concept of keeping things simple can beelusive. Transaction volumes and other issues outside of normal operationsbecome more prevalent and time-consuming. Development and refinement ofeffective management systems becomes critical. Management operations can be assimple as a day planner used to schedule daily meetings and appointments, orelaborate as expensive, proprietary reporting sytems.

The latter can tell you almost everything you would want to know about yourmultiple locations, if you have them. The best systems always produce a one-pageexecutive or key-indicators report. The intent of the report is to allow amanager to view a "snapshot" of the progress of key areas of thebusiness. It allows the user to identify problem areas, allowing him to researchor otherwise focus on them.

Having a powerful management system will also assist you in the applicationof the second important concept: taking care of your people. Most operatorsassume taking care of your team is limited to providing top wages and benefits.However, really applying a mutual-respect philosophy goes well beyondcompensation. If you want to establish respect throughout your team, you mustacknowlege some fundamental truths about human nature:

  • Most people want to do a good job.

  • People, including your employees, need to understand what is expected of them.

  • There is often a large gap between good intentions and performance.

Establishing a management technique that identifies goals, measuresperformance, reports feedback and rewards accomplishment will stimulate andmaintain the growth of your self-storage business. Without sufficienthuman-resource systems, even your best team members will not reach their fullpotential--and neither will your facilities. One of the most important factorsin the success of a self-storage property is the on-site management team. Itmakes sense that as your operation becomes larger, the weight given to thepeople-factor of your business should also increase.

Remember this: Smiling faces rent more spaces.

Stan Colona is one of the founders of XPS Services LLC of Dallas. He andhis partner, Brad Boyd, have combined industry expertise of more than 20 years.They have managed more than 300 properties, lead more than 600 managers andvisited an estimated 2,500 facilities. Known as the "Agents ofChange," Mr. Colona and Mr. Boyd offer cutting-edge consulting services toself-storage operators. For more information, visit their three websites at, or

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