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3 Critical Lessons I Learned in My First Week as a Self-Storage Manager

Once you’ve been trained on how to operate a self-storage facility, you might think you’re ready to jump in! However, excelling at your job takes time and practice. Consider these lessons the author learned in his early days as new manager.

Reprinted with permission from Storage Authority.

Learning to operate a self-storage facility sometimes takes a bit of trial and error, even when you’re properly trained. This is due, in part, to the many facets of the job. Here are three critical things I discovered during my first week as a new manager.

Lesson 1: Follow Your Open/Close Procedures

When you get to work in the morning, don't even take off your coat before your morning site walk. If you sit down at your computer for even a moment, you’ll get side-tracked, and your opening routine will go right out the window! Before you know it, it’ll be lunchtime, and you’ll be way behind on all the tasks you need to complete during the day.

It happened to me because I foolishly started reading my emails. An hour later, the open sign still wasn’t on. I hadn’t placed our signs by the road or walked the property. My whole day was out of whack! Your self-storage facility’s open and close procedures are set up for efficiency, so you have enough time to do the many things required. Don’t stray from the path.

Lesson 2: Ask for the Sale … Twice!

You’ll miss many self-storage rentals if you don’t always ask for the sale at least twice, especially when speaking with prospects over the phone. This is a lesson I learned while I was studying the scripts. At the time, I was also collecting information from other local storage facilities to compare rates. I was shocked at how many operators didn’t even ask me to rent a unit during our phone conversation.

I noticed right away that when I asked customers on the phone if they wanted to secure the rental, some did say yes. Sometimes, it was only after I asked a second time and reminded them of our guarantee. If I hadn’t asked again, I would’ve missed out on the sale for sure. Let our competitors miss out, not us!

Lesson 3: Practice Your Pitch

The main reason I wasn’t ready to manage the self-storage site on my own after my first day is I didn’t fully learn the management software. It was mostly my fault, but my trainer also let me off the hook. I thought I was ready, as we’d completed a lot of piecemeal training on the program; but in the end, I hadn’t done nearly enough full practice rentals.

In addition to the segmental rental practices, I suggest you do five or more full practice rentals every day for 10 days. You’ll gain confidence that way, so when a customer comes through the door, you know exactly what to do without hesitation, or fumbling around clicking on the wrong buttons, or worse, having to call them after they’ve left because you forgot something. That’s exactly what happened to me and, boy, was I embarrassed.

Just as I didn’t fully learn the self-storage software, I didn’t memorize the phone and walk-in sales scripts. Now I better understand the importance of using these to close more rentals. I found the best way to learn them is by role-playing five times or more first thing every morning until the language is second nature. Being new, I still read the scripts every day as a refresher. We want our customers to rent with confidence. That can’t happen if we aren’t confident flying solo.

Josh Parker is the director of technology and development for Storage Authority LLC, which offers a franchise program to self-storage owners and investors. He supports the company’s franchisees to ensure they have the latest software and hardware to increase operating efficiency, heighten customer satisfaction and improve the bottom line. He also builds technology systems to create value for franchisee owners. To reach him email [email protected].

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