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Building Equity Via Morale: Establishing Self-Storage Staff Bonuses and Incentives

Although self-storage employees aren’t likely to exhibit the same motivational drive toward the business as the owner, a strategic bonus and incentive program can boost staff morale and performance and help an organization flourish.

Cody Reynolds

December 11, 2016

4 Min Read
Building Equity Via Morale: Establishing Self-Storage Staff Bonuses and Incentives

If you’re a self-storage owner, your employees are never going to possess the same motivational drive toward your investment as you. It’s just a fact. So how do you inspire staff to have zeal toward the business and help you build equity from top to bottom? Following are some industry best practices to help you sculpt a good model for incentivizing and rewarding staff.


Company Culture

Healthy companies become that way because the employees who run them on a daily basis enjoy a sense of community and good chemistry. They have the ability to deploy thriving ideas that move the ball forward month after month. The work environment can be quite electric when people of different personalities gel, communicate the facts, challenge ideas, engage well with customers and dial it all in at the end of the day. Thriving companies know how to develop a quality, business-acumen-oriented environment that empowers passionate individuals to use their unique skills for the betterment of the organization.


Incentive Infrastructure

To roll out a good bonus plan at the facility level, you need to be in tune with seasonal peaks and valleys that affect the business. Hash out an incentive plan based on noticeable trends from your trailing 12-month history report that challenges your staff in every metrical area. Take results to the next level by tailoring goals to be site-specific. Give good guidance in terms of measureable revenue goals based on the previous year’s increase from facility to facility. (This is where a really good district manager could come in handy.) You need a target at which to shoot. If you don’t know where you’ve been, it’s difficult to know where to go.

Each self-storage property has a unique personality and market. Try rolling out something new at each site in your portfolio. Experiment. Tweak things as you go until you develop a good system. Keep in mind that incentive plans don’t need to follow a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach.

At the same time, be sensitive to class-level dynamics among the staff. Your incentive strategy for upper-level executives might look different than one designed for facility managers and could range widely. I’m not suggesting one role is more important than the other because your business is only as strong as your weakest link.

When it comes to bonus structure, I like to base things on the bottom line and keep the plan geared strictly toward revenue, but you may want to use multiple tiers that are contingent upon net move-in rentals, insurance-capture rate, merchandise sold, full-price rentals and so on. On the other hand, some type of vested plan may be in order for executives and upper management. Again, a program that gets staff to share in your motivational drive toward long-term investment goals is the key to success. How you structure this is largely based on your ability to be creative.


Training and Mentoring

Once you’ve assembled your A-team, what do you do to ensure employees have a solid foundation? In any competitive landscape, you win or lose based on how well you execute the fundamentals of the game—consistently. Introduce an ongoing training and mentoring regiment to keep staff performance sharp and above par. We all need to be refreshed from time to time.

Ay my operation, I conduct a quarterly, divisional webinar to discuss any directional changes toward which the company is gravitating, along with store-to-store metrics and other resourceful training topics. It never ceases to amaze me how these events seem to immediately boost morale and serve as a conduit for strengthening the team.

It’s important to understand that the physical self-storage building and procedural aspects of the business aren’t your sole investment. Your business includes human beings and is enhanced by improving their growth and development.


Develop Believers

To bring balance to it all, it’s vital for staff to believe in the product they sell. If managers don’t feel good about the facility, it can have a negative result. You want them to have bragging rights when it comes to the property’s features and benefits.

Take an inventory on your next site visit and try to view things from the customer’s point of view. Evaluate how you can make improvements if there’s something that needs rejuvenation. It may be that all your store really needs is a good shoeshine. In doing so, your staff will be able to project a positive vibe toward customers, which will lead to more sales.

Moving into more profitable circumstances with your cash flow isn’t always easy, but when the dust settles from all of your hard work, there will be room to hand out greater quarterly distributions to investors, along with raises, bonuses and incentives to employees. This results in a fluid synergy for your organization.

Cody Reynolds is regional operations director for National Storage Solutions Management LLC, in charge of its Texas portfolio. Cody got his start in self-storage in 2006 and has held resident, area and district-manager positions. To reach him, call 806.686.2555; e-mail [email protected].

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