Most new self-storage managers don’t receive proper training. This allows them to go astray of the operation’s established systems, making mistakes. It also leads to lower employee satisfaction and higher turnover.
Some owners and supervisors claim they don’t have the time, resources or experience to properly train their staff. However, with a solid program, a little patience and regular follow-up, the process can be completed in five simple steps.
1. Offer 30 Days of Initial Training
Don’t shortchange your new self-storage managers. You need to provide more than a few days of training if you expect them to properly operate your business. Your one-on-one guidance for the first 30 days should iclude:
- Employee handbook, including a thorough review of company policies and procedures
- Office and emergency contacts
- Facility layout, unit sizes and locations
- Open and close procedures
- Vendors contacts
- The rental agreement
- Management software
- Cash-draw and petty-cash reconciliation
- Daily and weekly lock checks
- Merchandise and tenant insurance or protection plans
- Facility maintenance
- Lien sales
- Marketing and online reviews
Because it isn’t easy to remember everything, ongoing training is essential. Once the first 30 days is complete, choose an area of focus each month during the first year and review it with your new employee. This will help him retain the information.
2. Provide a Detailed Manual
In the first month on the job (assuming you’re offering 30 days of initial training), your staff is going to be introduced to so much new information that it’ll be impossible for them to remember everything. To help them absorb and reaffirm what they’ve learned, they’ll need a detailed manual on operational policies and procedures, covering everything from how to open the office to how to handle marketing. Following the manual should be mandatory. Instruct them to study it regularly until they completely understand it all. The best employees know exactly what’s required of them because the manual explains it in full.
When a facility doesn’t provide a manual—or the manual isn’t followed—efficiency and rentals will be lower than optimal, and you’ll hand significant profit to your competition. It’s a shame to spend time and money to attract potential renters only to lose them because a manager didn’t know or follow procedures.
3. Provide Rental Scripts
How to close a rental is a critical aspect to self-storage operation that doesn’t always get proper focus during training. There often isn’t enough emphasis on using scripts. A proper sales presentation is the most important part of the manager’s job, and yet it sometimes gets the least attention.
To properly train employees in sales, you must create written scripts for phone, in person and online, and include step-by-step instructions. Scripts should be followed word-by-word until staff are knowledgeable and comfortable enough to present the information in their own way. They must memorize these scripts as well as the correct responses to objections potential renters often have when renting a unit, such as price.
The best way to teach sales scripts is through role-playing a few hours per day for at least a week. Start by reading the scripts, taking turns being the renter and manager. Then ask the employee to hand-write each script (for retention) and practice some more. Next, transfer the scripts to note cards and continue role-playing. A laminated copy of the scripts at the front desk is a must.
4. Explain Rental Paperwork
A lot more happens during the lease signing than just the unit rental. Many add-on sales, Google reviews and referrals are secured during the paperwork process. If your team doesn’t have a written process to follow or they aren’t required to follow it every time, you won’t sell boxes or locks, collect administration fees, gain referrals, get renters on autopay, or sell insurance like a pro should.
Every moment of the lease signing should be choreographed, from the first to the last word. The manager might start with something like, “If you have your driver’s license, I can start the paperwork and get that unit in your name.” The presentation might end with, “Thank you for choosing us. We promise to earn your business every day. As you know, we’re a hometown facility and have to compete on the Internet. Would you do me a favor and give us a five-star Google review? Great! Would you like to do it now on our tablet, or would you like me to send you a link via text or e-mail?”
5. Hold Staff Accountable
Employees should understand that following your policies is mandatory. They cannot “wing it” or do things their own way. Most good management-software programs include a host of reports and systems to help managers and owners/supervisors confirm that procedures are being followed. For example, the program can be used to track all sales leads and follow-ups, and to record calls with customers. This allows you to confirm scripts are being used.
Once a new employee is ready to be on his own, perform a secret shop in person and over the phone. You can hire a third-party shopper or do it yourself. Following his initial 30 days of training, your new hire should be ready for this test. Employees should have a checklist of everything covered in this assessment. They should also know what’s considered pass or fail, and the consequences of failing.
To bolster accountability, require your new manger to send you an end-of-day e-mail, every day. It should include key items such as:
- How many calls, online inquiries and visits were received that day
- How many people rented and how many require follow-up
- How many Google reviews were received
- What marketing tasks were completed
- Any customer-service issues that need to be addressed
- Any maintenance items that need attention
This is a simple way to confirm you and your manager are on the same page and that he understands the policies and systems in place.
It’s also important to schedule regular meetings with staff. These could be weekly one-on-one site visits or simply regular phone calls. These provide an opportunity to address any concerns you have about the property, share information with employees, praise them for reaching goals, or discuss upcoming projects or tasks. It’ll also allow your team to provide feedback and bring up any problems that need your attention.
While training new employees can be time-consuming, it’s critical to ensure your storage business operates in the manner you desire. A lack of guidance sets up your team and property for failure. In the long run, proper training benefits you and your business.
Marc Goodin is president of Storage Authority LLC and the owner of three self-storage facilities that he personally designed, built and manages. He’s been helping others in the industry for more than 25 years. To reach him, call 860.830.6764, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.storageauthorityfranchise.com. You can also purchase his books on facility development and marketing in the Inside Self-Storage Store.