This is a great time to be in the self-storage industry. Ultimately, we’re in the trauma and transition business, and there’s no shortage of either right now. Demand and occupancy are up, along with facility acquisitions and dispositions. Many of us even find ourselves looking to add new staff.
The great news is the pool of extremely qualified candidates is deep. There are a lot of highly trained, exceptional professionals who’ve been displaced due to the pandemic. They’re now available to fill vacancies, or to replace underperforming employees or those who don’t mesh well with your corporate culture. But to ensure you hire people with the right skills and character, you must do three things: write a solid job post, test candidates’ personalities to see if they’ll be a good fit, and get to know them through multiple interviews and maybe even a job “tryout.” Let’s look at each step.
Create a Solid Job Post
When you post your ad, you can likely expect a great deal of responses in today’s high unemployment environment. Include a very detailed, specific job description that drills down to the items most important to you. If you want someone who’s experienced in property management and collections, say so. If you’re more interested in a person who’s really good at marketing, especially on social media platforms, include that. There are some talented candidates right now, so you can be precise in what you want. You don’t have to settle for those who don’t meet your criteria.
At a minimum, your post should include a job title and outline of what’s expected of the applicant. Make a list of the main responsibilities the person will manage as well as the requirements in terms of experience, skills and education.
Give candidates a homework assignment. For example, tell them they must click on a link and follow the instructions. Perhaps you want them to fill out and submit a form, write something, or send you a résumé through the mail. There are three reasons for doing this:
- You want to make sure they’ve really read your application and know what you’re looking for.
- You want to confirm they can follow instructions.
- You want to weed out people who just send their résumés to everyone, which will save you time in the long run.
There are several places you can list job availability. According to “U.S. News & World Report,” the top eight websites for finding jobs are:
- Company career pages
- Google for Jobs
These are the sites on which you want your listing to appear. I’ve used Indeed and Upward as well as LinkedIn. You should also place a “now hiring” link on your website. This is a great way to find people who are already familiar with your brand and want to work with you.
Test Their Personalities
Once you’ve narrowed your list to a manageable length, it’s wise to have candidates take a personality test. In addition to meeting the overall requirements of the position, each new hire should match your company culture and mesh with its core values. In my organization, for example, that typically includes someone who’s focused, goal-oriented and self-driven.
There are several tests from which to choose, but a popular one is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a questionnaire that helps uncover the way people perceive the world and make decisions. The test attempts to assign the user in four categories:
- Introversion or extraversion
- Sensing or intuition
- Thinking or feeling
- Judging or perceiving
Of course, there are no right or wrong answers. Ultimately, the person receives one letter from each category and gets a four-letter test result. For example, an ISFJ is detailed, organized, dependable and stable along with several other good traits. These are the types of qualities you might seek in a self-storage manager. On the other hand, you may want an ENFJ, who is actively social, conscientious, insightful and tactful.
Another resource to consider is the Enneagram Personality Test, which asks a series of questions to find out if a person is more of an achiever, challenger, giver, enthusiast, individualist, investigator, peacemaker, perfectionist or skeptic. It’ll give him a percentage ranking in each category. You can then see if the candidate’s traits coincide with your needs.
If you don’t know what your company culture is, have everyone on your team take one of these tests so you can determine a candidate’s overall suitability. The results will help you foresee potential conflicts and predict the person’s compatibility with the rest of the team.
Get to Know Them
Now that you know your potential candidates will likely be suitable for your culture, it’s time to introduce them to key company players and get to know them. It’s essential that they be interviewed by multiple team members. Your top performers can help you determine if each will be a good hire. You don’t want to bring in a person who’ll cause conflict or upheaval. There’s no need to risk that, as there are too many good prospects on the market.
Consider asking your candidates to work a trial period. Let them interact with the people they’d deal with regularly to see if they fit comfortably with the team. It’s important to see candidates in action rather than just during an interview. Anyone can interview well. That doesn’t mean he’ll perform up to expectations in the work environment. In my company, each new hire starts on a 90-day probationary period. At that point, we conduct a performance review and decide if we’re a good match.
After the trial period, ask your team to submit a short evaluation of each candidate and recommend which they would hire, if any. Ultimately, you have the final decision, but listen to what your team has to say. If there are serious concerns about your top candidates, reconsider. Your employees may see something you missed.
As you grow your self-storage operation, make sure you’re staffing your facilities with people who match your company’s core values. Use the above strategies to find the best candidates for each position. This is how you can grow and scale as we navigate the current economic cycle.
Scott Meyers, founder of Self Storage Profits Inc. and Kingdom Storage Holdings, has been involved in the self-storage industry as a developer, owner, syndicator and operator since 2005. He and his companies have bought, sold, developed and converted more than 2.1 million square feet of storage across 11 states. His website, selfstorageinvesting.com, provides information, software and seminars to help people launch and grow a self-storage business. To reach him, email [email protected].