HELP WANTEDMr. or Ms. 'Good Manager' only need apply

January 1, 2000

5 Min Read
HELP WANTEDMr. or Ms. 'Good Manager' only need apply


Mr. or Ms. 'Good Manager' only need apply

By Pamela Alton

As we all know, the people you choose to manage your facility will make the differencebetween a highly successful operation and a mediocre one. Finding that perfect managementstaff is not always an easy task to accomplish. Where do you find them and what do you dowith them once you have them?

To find management, you can place an ad in your local newspaper or trade magazine, oruse one of the placement services available today. Getting people to respond may be theeasiest aspect of your search--interviewing and matching the right manager to yourfacility is not so simple. Everyone can be on their best behavior for an hour. That's whyit's important to interview your selection of candidates more than once. If they arecurrently employed at a facility close enough for you to visit, you should consider doingso--providing you get their approval. Most managers seek new employment confidentially anddon't want to jeopardize their current position.

When interviewing candidates, consider their individual talents and match themanagement personality with that of the position you are trying to fill. Traditionally, ifyou have on-site housing, most full-time resident staff consists of a husband and wifeteam. And just because you may think the woman is the one behind the desk and the man isthe one responsible for the maintenance, does not mean that she will be better at theoffice work or that he will be a better cleaner. Sometimes she will handle themaintenance, and he is better with the computer. Perhaps he is more outgoing and would bebetter at outside marketing. Again, look at the talents of each manager and assign the jobresponsibilities that are best suited to each.

Once you have selected your management staff, you should give them an orientation. thisis the time to discuss company policy and procedures, have them sign their letter ofemployment and apartment lease. If you don't have a clear and concise policy andprocedures manual, you need to design or purchase one (or several) and customize it tosuit your company philosophy. Go over the manual with the manager. Discuss job duties andresponsibilities, chain of command, etc. Make sure you are both on the same page, so tospeak.

The next stop is training. If you hire an experienced management staff, your timetraining may be shorter than with inexperienced staff. If they are novices, you will needto spend a minimum of 10 days training them. Training must consist of telephonetechniques, showing units, maintenance of the facility, outside sales and marketing,company forms, computer programs, collections and lien sales, etc.

As the owner or management company, it is imperative that you give your managementstaff the tools to do their job effectively. Those tools consist of effective training,maintenance supplies to keep the facility clean, an organized office atmosphere and clean,contemporary living quarters. If you would not allow your mother, wife, child or yourselfto live in the on-site housing, how can you expect the management staff responsible foryour mulitmillion-dollar investment to?

Open communication is another important element of successful staffing. You and yourmanagement staff must feel that you can discuss any positive or negative aspect of thejob. One of the ways to accomplish this is by having your management staff call in thedaily deposits to your office. This will give you the chance to discuss any daily issues,such as marketing programs, maintenance in progress, problem tenants, etc., without makingthe manager feel he is being "micro-managed," that he doesn't have the authorityto make day-to-day, on-site decisions.

Define your expectations. Most people are not mind readers. If you are not happy withtheir job performance, tell them what you expect. Visit your facility regularly. Conductaudits and inspections. Ask for the manager's input in designing marketing or maintenanceprograms, annual budgets, rate increases, etc. Give your managers the control needed toactually manage the facility. You hired and trained them--now, let them manage the site.If you don't trust their judgment, then you made the wrong choice in hiring. If so, thendo yourself and them a favor: End their employment and allow them to find a positionsuited for them, and you the right candidate for your facility.

Paying your management staff a competitive wage and designing an attainable bonusprogram is a must. Regardless of what ABC Storage down the road is paying itsmanagement, you should look at the managers' experience, track record, enthusiasm andability to operate your investment, and pay them accordingly. There is no right or wrongbonus program, and not all bonus programs should be the same for all facilities.Facilities are as individual as people are. What will motivate one manager will not alwaysmotivate another.

Take your time to discuss with your managers a bonus structure that will achieve thedesired results. You want to write big bonus checks each month because, if you do, you arerealizing record incomes at your facility. Don't forget a pat on the back and a complimentfor the manager. It doesn't cost a dime, but it's worth a fortune.

You don't have to be a genius or own a crystal ball to have a successful facility. Itjust takes some basic philosophies. Match your management staff and their talents with thefacility. Define clear-cut company policy and procedures, facility manuals, orientationand training. Communicate with your management staff and visit the site on a regularbasis. Provide the tools to effectively do the job. Design a competitive wage andattainable bonus program. Reward your manager for a job well done. Provide decent housing(if any). With these few basic, commonsense rules, you and your management staff will reapthe rewards of a successful self-storage operation.

Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management®, a nationwidemanager-placement service. Mini-Management also offers full-service and"operations-only" facility management, training manuals, inspections and audits,feasibility studies, consulting and training seminars. For more information, call (800)646-4648.

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