As a self-storage owner, you should understand that a fantastic site manager will produce outstanding results for your business. On the flip side, having the wrong person in place won’t only be detrimental, it could take years off your life in stress and headaches.
It can be challenging to ensure you have the right person at the helm, especially if your operation is on the small side. You may not have a human-resources (HR) department. Heck, maybe you are the HR department. Still, it’s possible to find stellar people even when you don’t have a dedicated recruiting team or an endless budget to provide top-dollar wages and a plethora of benefits. Let’s look at two often-overlooked activities that can dramatically increase your ability to recruit great self-storage talent: writing a quality job posting and getting it in front of the best candidates.
When it comes to recruiting quality self-storage managers, you might think it’s all about the compensation package. Whoever pays the most gets the best people, right? Wrong! Now, I don’t want to entirely downplay the role of money. We should endeavor to provide the most attractive compensation we can, not just what we think we can get away with. However, it’s equally important to realize that human beings want their work to have meaning and provide fulfillment beyond their paycheck.
Prior to Ernest Shackleton’s famous 1914 expedition to the South Pole, it’s rumored he placed an advertisement in a local newspaper that read, “MEN WANTED for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in event of success.” Though there’s some debate to the historical accuracy, I think it provides an important lesson. Who on earth would reply to an ad like that? Someone who thinks the opportunity sounds amazing!
As the self-storage owner, it’s your responsibility to clearly articulate the role of site manager at your specific property. You also want to connect with candidates who’ll view the job as contributing to something bigger than themselves. Below, I’ll walk you through what to include a strong job post, using examples from listings I’ve used with great success.
When I write my self-storage job listings, I rarely refer to the position as “site manager.” You and I know what a self-storage facility manager is, but the outside world may not. Candidates may not be familiar with our industry at all, so I tend to call the position “sales associate,” “customer-care representative,” or a combination of the two.
A self-storage manager wears many hats, so it’s difficult to describe the role in just a couple of words. That said, some of the primary responsibilities are selling unit rentals and keeping customers happy. I want to market my job to individuals who have sales and customer-service experience, regardless of what industries they may have worked in previously.
Next, provide an overview of what your self-storage position entails. Here’s one I use:
This is an exciting opportunity for a success-driven, self-motivated individual who functions well in an independent working environment and wants to take a distressed business and help it reach stabilization and even grow to the next level! You will be essential in creating a friendly and welcoming environment for our customers where we can identify and meet their storage needs, exceed their expectations, and provide the most personal and enjoyable storage experience possible. If you share our core values, have an entrepreneur’s outlook, and are excited by this opportunity, we would love to hear from you!
You’re probably thinking that describing the business as “distressed” will scare people away. Like Shackleton, that’s my intent. If it chases them away, this isn’t the position for them. When I bought this particular facility, it was in bad shape, and I wanted to be transparent about it. I wanted prospects to read that listing and be excited about the challenge. Though your business may not be troubled, be upfront and clear about the situation the prospect will be entering.
Your self-storage manager will reflect your business, so who are you? It’s important to be clear about your company values in your job post, so you attract people who share the same outlook. That alignment will ensure the person you hire is a great fit for your business. Here are the core values my company promotes:
- We have honesty and integrity in all that we do.
- We are committed to excellence.
- We possess a positive spirit with a can-do attitude.
- We work hard with energy and enthusiasm.
- We seek to serve others.
- We strive for continuous improvement and growth.
In addition to finding someone who aligns with your company’s values, it’s vital that any candidate clearly understands what the self-storage manager role entails. Here are several key responsibilities I list in job postings:
- Maximize sales objectives with every prospective customer via the phone, Web or in person
- Work with customers to identify their storage needs and provide solutions that’ll contribute to the best storage experience possible
- Get out in the community and directly market to businesses and individuals
- Sell/upsell high-quality merchandise and services, such as locks, boxes, moving supplies, tenant insurance, etc.
- Build customer loyalty by treating everyone like a VIP and consistently exceeding expectations
- Meet company financial goals by posting payments, processing bank deposits, pursuing collections, and upholding state lien procedures, all in an accurate and timely manner
- Ensure the facility is held to the highest standards of presentation by cleaning units, sweeping, picking up around the property, and performing other general maintenance
- Perform at a high level without constant supervision
When creating a self-storage job posting, my goal is to find individuals whose unique abilities and characteristics align with the role. Here’s a sample list of site-manager qualifications I use:
- Any candidate must be in full alignment with our company’s core values but also have an owner’s/entrepreneur’s mindset as well as a fanatical commitment to taking care of customers.
- The ideal candidate loves working with people and derives energy and fulfillment from customer interaction.
- The candidate should have experience in various, customer-centered roles including but not limited to retail salesperson, restaurant server, customer-service representative, car-rental associate, etc.
- The candidate must have a minimum of two years of sales and/or customer-service experience.
- The candidate must be well-versed in a Windows operating system and Microsoft Office products. In general, he should know his way around computers very well and be able to adapt and learn our management and point-of-sale software.
Where to Post
Once you’ve dialed in the content of your job listing, the rest is fairly simple. You want to get it in front of the right people. I tried posting on community bulletin boards (physical and online), but with little to no positive results. Then I learned that if I want professional candidates to apply for a position, I we need to go to the platforms where professionals congregate, such as CareerBuilder, Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, ZipRecruiter, etc.
I’ve hired our last three self-storage managers using ZipRecruiter. The website matches candidates to your position and provides you with tools to review them from your Web browser. Recently, I was even able to add a high-visibility tag to my listing to indicate I was hiring during COVID-19. This provided more traffic to my listing given that many companies aren’t hiring at all.
In terms of cost, that ZipRecruiter ad was $250 to $300 per month. That may sound steep, and it is when you consider that finding the right manager takes time. During my last recruitment, I examined at least 100 candidates and interviewed several, some for multiple rounds. The key is to be patient and not lower your standards. Your business to too important to settle.
Finding an amazing self-storage manager is possible for operators of all sizes, not just the giants. If you use the above tips to craft the right job posting and invest the time and money to get it in front of the right people, you’ll reap the benefits of happy, loyal customers and a business that’s more valuable than you thought possible.
Jon Griffeth is a self-storage owner and investor. His YouTube channel, “The Self-Storage Guy,” offers resources to help small operators get the most out of their businesses. He also uses the platform and his Facebook page to chronicle his life as a regular, working, family guy leveraging self-storage to achieve financial independence from the 9-to-5 grind.