December 1, 2006

4 Min Read

December rings in a season of celebrationas well as reflection upon our accomplishments and failures for the past year. At my company, were busy preparing the next annual budget, part of which addresses employee costs. With this comes the obligation of conducting employee evaluations. If youre fortunate enough to work for a business that values performance, perhaps youre the one up for review.

An evaluation can mean different things at different companies. For some, its a time to sit with a supervisor and discuss your job effectiveness, from your perspective and theirs. Often, youll both be on the same page. However, you may not feel your review accurately portrays your performance. Lets review a few tips to make this process better for you (and the boss).

Goal Setting

First, I suggest you both set some common goals. For example, lets assume youre a manager waiving an average of five late fees per month. Although your supervisor accepts this, youre costing the company $50 per month or $600 a year.

Perhaps you and the boss agree to reduce this by one-half, to $300 per year. If you accomplish this, he says, maybe youll earn a bonus of 50 percent of what you accrue for the company. Achieve this goal and at years end, youre in a position to discuss how your performance benefited the company and how youre entitled to that bonus.

Although this is a simplified example, the important point is to outline goals that are mutually beneficial to you and your company. If you make the business more money, you should receive the financial benefits, which boils down to a win-win proposition for everyone.

Another area to critique is your day-to-day work load. How do you effectively evaluate your performance on those tasks? First off, unless youre working with a supervisor that has actually done your job, it may be hard for him to understand the tasks at hand. Lots of people whove never held the position perceive a self-storage managers job as easy: You collect some rent payments, show some units to prospective customers, sweep out a few units, pull a few weeds, shuffle some paper in the office and, most of the time, just sit back and relax. Right?

The Truth of the Matter

If youve been in the trenches for a long time, you know better. This job requires you to wear many hats:

  • Counselor 

  • Collections agent 

  • Maintenance person 

  • Marketing expert 

  • Sales person 

  • Bookkeeper 

  • Customer-service representative 

  • Security guard 

  • Detective 

Im sure the list could go on and on. With all these responsibilities, its next to impossible to conduct an effective performance evaluation. Going back to our example above, a good way to set up your own performance evaluation is to set the criteria. Both you and your supervisor should agree on performance expectations such as a clean site, daily lock checks, deposits made on timely basis, reporting accuracy, etc. Once youve agreed on those, it becomes easier to evaluate how well the tasks have been accomplished.

But how do you set goals for occupancy rates, delinquency rates, funds collected and even for savings on expenses? Again, using a target system allows you to measure accomplishments at years end. Simply setting the objective of increased occupancy is easy; the hard part is determining how managers can reach it and what the responsibilities of the owners and supervisors will be.

If a manager works hard to get every customer to the store, its only fair the owner gives him tools to help. Does your facility have an adequate ad in the local Yellow Pages? What about electronic Yellow Pages exposure? Is there a website the owner is promoting? Do you do direct mail? Do you have sales brochures for your store? Is your signage adequate for your location?

These are the type of questions you and your supervisor can discuss to determine if youre adequately outfitted to improve operations at your site.

Its That Time of Year

We like to go over performance reviews at the same time were in the budget process. If youre not invited into budgeting sessions, inquire with your supervisor about the chances of inclusion. Explain to him youd like to see firsthand whats spent in advertising and marketing dollars to draw new customers to the store. The lesson helps to instill a sense of responsibility in managers. Plus, it prompts them to reflect on how they can contribute to the bottom linethrough marketing and advertisingas well as receive paybacks for a job well done.

Evaluations are hard enough. Make the process easier by establishing performance-related goals with your boss, and hopefully hell see the value of offering you incentives to achieve them. 

Mel Holsinger is president of Professional Self Storage Management LLC, based in Tucson, Ariz., offering facility management, consulting and development services to the self-storage industry. For more information, call 520.319.2164; visit

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