At my company, we believe our success lies in the hands of our team members. Our self-storage property managers are the faces and voices with which customers interact. We succeed by hiring candidates based on their experience and personality, and then we teach them how to be industry specialists.
During the training process, we share access to our corporate wealth of knowledge, and our field managers follow up with coaching and counseling to ensure everyone remains current on company priorities. Our program also empowers staff to make the right choices. It’s a recipe that has worked well for us for many years. Here are the main components.
Manager training is essential to any self-storage business that wants analogous, positive results. It should include dispersion of the knowledge and experiences gained by the organization throughout the years. In a company like ours, where we have senior leadership who’ve worked in the industry for decades, we teach team members what, how, when and why we do things. All new managers are trained and taught to operate in the same manner, to ensure they work congruently through our principles.
To succeed, staff need to know the company’s expectations and be held accountable for meeting them. They also need to know how their performance measures up. You need tell them—and make sure they understand—what’s important to the company and find a way to quantify and grade those key performance metrics.
Assessment and Support
My company has developed a diverse workforce because we understand it’s critical to growth. We also understand that it’s important to match our dedicated trainers and trainees in a way that produces the best results. All employees undergo a personality test, so we know the best way to train and mentor them throughout their career. Our trainers are selected based on their execution of policies and priorities, their ability to share knowledge, and their character traits.
Even if your self-storage operation has a good training program, not every employee will have the same level of retention; so, knowledge testing is key. You need to continuously assess your staff’s level of learning. We give tests throughout the training period to determine how much each trainee has grasped. People learn at different paces and in different ways, so you might have to spend extra time with some folks—that is, if you believe they have what it takes to excel in their position.
Follow-Up and Course Correction
One of the most important aspects of training is following up to ensure guidelines are being followed. Our team of district and region managers, under the supervision of our vice president of operations, works with team members to ensure store-level operations are seamless and consistent at all our owned and managed self-storage facilities. They’re the ones tasked with ensuring all policies, procedures, marketing initiatives, etc., are being met.
When these things aren’t being met, corrective action must be taken; but it needs to be communicated in a positive manner that’ll help the recipient make the necessary changes to product the right results. Don’t just give direct objectives, but include the reasoning behind the correction as well as how it affects the company. Let staff know what happens if things don’t get on course. They should be part of this realization.
The Operations Manual
When a company has a lot of knowledge experience, there needs to be a place where all that information is stored, and that’s the self-storage operations manual. A big part of our approach is helping staff understand where to find the guidance they may not have come across in training. The manual should be a central hub for all operations-related material.
Furthermore, if you want everyone in your organization to be on the same page, team members need to know the page you’re referring to—literally! The operations manual must have a table of contents that lists the subject matter they might need and encounter. The topics should be clearly organized in a manner that allows people to easily search for (and find) answers to their questions. Finally, the manual should be regularly updated with new information, so staff can always trust that it’s current and accurate.
A Collaborative Effort
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes an entire organization to properly educate a new self-storage manager! Your training program should be developed through the knowledge and experiences of your existing, diverse workforce. Best practices, industry standards, laws and policies should be transcribed, taught, understood and measured. You need to state your expectations to each employee and explain resources you offer to help meet them.
If you want to create a successful training program for your self-storage operation, you need to align leaders from all facets of the organization in a collaborative effort. Goals and strategies need to be discussed company-wide, so standards become well-established. And don’t forget that as new experiences and knowledge are gained, you must ensure your reference materials and practices are up to date.
Jay Catrib is the payroll and training coordinator for Pogoda Cos., a Farmington Hills, Mich., self-storage owner and third-party management company. Jay creates and implements training materials and programs. He has more than a decade of operations management and training experience, and has a true passion for team training and development. To reach him, email email@example.com or call 248.855.9676.