June 1, 1998

5 Min Read
Look at Your Rental Office

Stuck in A Rut?
Guidelines to Kickstart Your Self-Storage Managerial Position

By Kim Alton

You have been working for the same self-storage company for several years, and you havethe routine down pat. You know all of your tenants by name, and you have heard everyexcuse for being late known to man. Ho hum.

Is your job becoming boring and unchallenging? Do you wait for the hours to go by sothat you can do something better? What happened? It may be time for you to re-evaluateyour position: Are you being an effective manager? Here are some ways of beating the sameold routine and becoming the best manager you can be:

Look at Your Rental Office

Examine your office from a customer's point of view. Walk through your front door. Whatdo you see? Get rid of the coffee mugs and the TV set. Paint the walls and hang newpictures, certificates or newspaper articles about your facility. Buy some plants. Makesure the chairs are clean and that there are rug mats, especially in the bathroom. Andwash those windows!

Your office should be appealing; it is a reflection of the management team that worksthere. A cluttered office takes away from even the best manager. Your rental officereinforces the importance of the lease presentation, which ensures that the customer knowsthey are signing a legal document and understands the rules that accompany it.

Dress Appropriately

A neat appearance counts in a big way. First impressions may be the only chance youhave to make the sale. You are a rental agent acting in the best interest of the owner, sodress the part. Get rid of the jogging suit and baseball cap--save that for after hours.Dress slacks and dress shirts or uniform polo shirts, and skirts and blouses project aprofessional attitude that will demand the respect you deserve. Do you stand, greet everycustomer, and introduce yourself and a co-manager if the customer is interested in seeinga unit? Consider how you would want to be treated in the same professional situation.

Arm Yourself With Knowledge

Go to a seminar or trade show. Take a management class on motivating people. Take thetime to read your policies and procedures. Know exactly what your rental agreementdictates and be able to explain it. Read your computer manual. Keep up to date on the lienlaws governing your state, and familiarize yourself with the correct procedures concerningbankruptcies, death of a tenant, transferring a unit to another person and thedocumentation involved with storing a vehicle. When you rented a space to a company, didthe agent fill out a fiduciary agreement? Knowledge makes your job much easier.

Ask Questions

Are you sometimes confused, dazed and stumped? Are you learning a new computer program?You must ask questions. No question is too silly to ask when you are gaining knowledge andexperience. Don't be intimidated by your supervisors. They are there to help youhelp them run the facility as efficiently and effectively as possible. Do notassume the answer, ask. Call anyone who can help you. Be alert to all possible scenarios,and use common sense when reasoning out the challenges in front of you.

Get Involved

Have a contest with your employees--the most rentals in a month, getting a great scoreon your telephone shop, reducing delinquent tenants, etc.--and treat the winner to a nicedinner and a movie. Get involved in the community. Market your facility by having a fooddrop sponsored by the Salvation Army at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Invite the Boy Scoutsto your facility and put a picture of you all together in the newspaper. Call the radiostations--if they mention your name once an hour, that's great. Sponsor a baseball team.Put an article, flier or discount coupon in the Little League news and the school gazette.Go to a business expo in your area. Hand out magnetic calendars with your facility's nameon them. Join the chamber of commerce. Go to the mixers. Network.

Go to the local apartment complexes and mobile home parks and ask them to put yourflier in their move-in packets. Leave fliers at real-estate offices. Since people sellingtheir homes want them to appear more spacious and uncluttered, they will often store theirextra items to give the appearance of larger rooms. People in transition or thosedownsizing to smaller living quarters will also need a place to store their items.

Give fliers to the businesses in the area, and let them know about the advantages ofstorage (i.e., freeing up their office space from old files and inventory and being ableto write it off as a business expense). Offer them a rent credit for half a month whenthey pay for six months of storage. Have you used flags, banners, sandwich boards orballoons to attract attention to your facility? Ask your local pizza-delivery operation topass out your brochure with their deliveries.

Polish Your Phone Skills

Keep your attitude in check. Pay attention to the person on the phone. Link yourfeatures and their benefits. Give the customer an entire picture of the storageexperience. Listen closely and answer all questions regarding what they can expect andwhat they will do and see. State the facts. Do not exaggerate. Do not make promises. Givea quality phone presentation of your facility and what it has to offer.

When challenged with an irate customer on the phone, keep these things in mind: Keepyour voice low and calm; do not become emotional or involved in their stress; simply tryto diffuse the situation and state the facts; be empathetic, but also try to solve theproblem without caving in. You know the rules--follow them while keeping customer serviceas number one in your mind at all times. A large part of your business is word of mouthand referrals. Use your management skills when you solve problems. Be neutral.

Finally, elevate your goals and you will achieve success for you and your owner orproperty manager. A win-win situation will only reinforce the fact that you are a valuableand essential part of your management team, keeping your job exciting, challenging andrewarding. Rise above the competition and let your personality sparkle through.

Kim Alton is the training manager for the C.N. Lyons Development Company and alsomanages a facility in Mission Viego, Calif., with her husband, Garry. Ms. Alton wastrained by Mini-Management Services, one of the industry's largest nationwidemanager-placement services. Mini-Management also offers policy and procedures manuals,sales and marketing training manuals, inspections and audits, consulting, telephoneshopping and training seminars. For more information on the services offered byMini-Management, call (800) 646-4648.

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