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Bring It! How to Invest in Yourself and Take Your Self-Storage Management Career to the Next Level

Are you in a self-storage management rut? Is your industry career feeling stagnant? If you want to improve your current role and perhaps even move on to greater things, you need to take action and invest in yourself. Here’s how to bring your career to the next level.

Phil O’Hara

March 25, 2022

6 Min Read
Take Your Self-Storage Management Career to the Next Level

We’ve all been there at least once in our career: bored, complacent and in need of a fresh challenge. Your average person spends about 2,000 hours per year at work, assuming a standard 40-hour work week (and many of us work more). For some of us, that’s more time than we spend with our families! With so much at stake, it stands to reason that we should choose a job we genuinely love. By taking some relatively simple steps, we can become happier, more employable, more valuable workers.

The great thing about the self-storage industry is there’s plenty of upward mobility. For those who are prepared to work for them, there are opportunities for advancement. Most of the facility managers I know started in the business accidentally, often from unrelated fields. I entered as an assistant manager. By taking action and constantly seeking improvement, boosted my career and now work as director of operations for a company that operates three facilities in New Jersey and New York.

If you’ve hit a point where you feel you can take on more responsibility in your current job or you’re ready to seek a new position, the time to act is now. Consider the following guidance to lift your profession to new heights of success and fulfillment.

Build Your Authority

The first thing I did to advance my own career was to learn everything I could about self-storage and business management. Educating yourself can be as simple as reading articles (like this one) in business and trade magazines or online. You can also:

  • Become more involved in the industry by joining community forums and associations.

  • Connect with others on LinkedIn, which is a valuable avenue for meeting new people and broadening your knowledge.

  • Listen to podcasts to learn more about leadership and business management in general.

Having the ability to discuss current trends and industry news is critical if you want to advance your career. Thankfully, most of the above enrichment opportunities are low-cost or often free. And when you discuss your exploration of these things with your supervisor (and you should), you show them you aren’t just doing a job, but that you approach our industry with a career-minded view. Building your authority on industry and business subjects also makes you a go-to source for information and assistance within your company.

Keep Learning

As a self-storage operator, you should always strive to improve your skills and industry knowledge. There are numerous places to attend seminars and achieve certifications, in-person and online, and many are self-paced. These will give you more talking points with other professionals. New self-storage strategies and best practices are constantly released. The more you stay current on the significant changes in our industry, the more relevant and valuable you are.

Whenever possible, attend national and state self-storage conferences. In addition to gaining insight on our industry, there’s an opportunity to meet new people. There hasn’t been a single time I attended one of these events that it didn’t expand my network of connections. I’ve always learned something new that benefited my career. Plus, some of the folks I’ve met over the years are now life-long friends, ones I can count on when I run into a snag.

While there’s some cost associated with attending conferences and tradeshows, the education and networking will pay dividends throughout your career. Try to spend 5% of your yearly earnings on professional development.

Cultivate a Tribe of Mentors

I have many mentors with whom I consult regularly. One of the many great things about the self-storage industry is the willingness of people to share ideas. It should be easy to find like-minded professionals willing to help you along your journey. A rising tide raises all ships.

To find a mentor, consider people within your own company but also those outside of it. You might find someone who isn’t in our industry at all. Look to local business owners, members of the chamber of commerce or other professional groups who can provide you guidance and help you develop your skills.

Ask for a Review

Part of your path to improvement should include a look at where you are in your self-storage career and where you want to be. Most companies have a regular schedule for reviewing team members; however, if your company doesn’t or you’re looking for more guidance, request a review from your supervisor. This will be seen as a bold move and show them you’d like to improve in your current role.

Of course, be ready to take any constructive criticism that comes your way. While it might sting to receive critiques about your performance, a review will help you understand the areas in which you may be lacking. This’ll give you a start on improving your skills and bolstering your career.

Take on a Challenge

If your supervisor is talking about an upcoming project that typically would be outside of your current role, request to be included. They’ll view your initiative as your willingness to take on more responsibility. Not only will it give you the chance to grow your knowledge base and skill set, it’ll allow you to show your boss what you’re capable of doing. If you don’t get chosen for that particular project, don’t fret—there will surely be more on the horizon.

Streamline Your Routine

Take a typical week and track the way you spend all your time during each workday. How much do you devote to completing various tasks? What about those moments that aren’t directly related to your job? Surfing the Internet, taking too many breaks, checking social media or even chatting with co-workers can make you a less efficient team member.

How many times have you heard someone say, “If I had more time, I could get that done!” To streamline your day, create a daily checklist of the items you need to complete. This’ll help you be more productive. If you’re looking for ways to supercharge your self-storage career, cutting back on distractions and honing your work schedule will help.

Your Career Is Your Business.

If you owned your own business, you’d do everything possible to guarantee it was successful, right? You’d spend countless hours improving yourself and ensuring you were the most efficient owner you could be. You’d market your company and complete tasks in the most proficient way possible to make the most of your day.

Now, take that mindset and apply it to your current position in self-storage. Your career is your business. Market yourself to others, push yourself to be the most productive employee you can be, and work to enhance your capabilities until you achieve that dream job. When you take extreme ownership of your personal growth, you’ll flourish.

By taking action, you’ll continue to be employable, and your career will be upwardly mobile. The limit is only as high as you set the bar. Rethink the way you present yourself to others, and continue to learn and evolve. Before you know it, you’ll have that promotion, be working for your dream employer or even running your own storage company!

Phil O’Hara is the director of operations for Delta Self Storage, which operates three facilities in New Jersey and New York. Phil has worked in many positions during his self-storage career, which spans more than a decade. He’s currently a member of the New Jersey Self Storage Association Board of Directors. Contact him at [email protected] or connect with him on LinkedIn.

About the Author(s)

Phil O’Hara

Director of Operations, Delta Self Storage

Phil O’Hara is the director of operations for Delta Self Storage, which operates three facilities in New Jersey and New York. Phil has worked in many positions during his self-storage career, which spans more than a decade. He’s currently a member of the New Jersey Self Storage Association Board of Directors. Contact him at [email protected] or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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