Pulling in the Same Direction: 5 Ways to Be an Amazing Self-Storage Team Player

Thriving self-storage businesses are backed by exceptional teams. How do you become an MVP (most valuable player) at your facility? Here are five things you need to do.

Magen Smith

June 10, 2020

5 Min Read

To achieve success in self-storage management, it helps to be part of a high-functioning team. Together, we can go farther and faster than we can ever go alone. With a strong team, we can move forward and meet our professional, financial, educational and other goals.

However, being a productive team member means bringing certain skills and a particular mindset to the table. To become a most valuable player (MVP) at your self-storage facility, you need patience, excellent communication, plus other traits and abilities. Let’s see what’s required to achieve MVP status.

Find the Win

A great player recognizes all members on the team. In self-storage, a facility’s team includes the manager, sure, but also the owner, any regional or district managers, the investors, and even the customers. Every decision should be made for the good of the company, and all team members must pull in that same direction. A manager with team spirit recognizes that his day-to-day decisions and actions affect the bottom line and, therefore, all his teammates.

For example, if you have a customer in your office who’s angry about a late fee, you can decide to waive the fee or resolve the situation in a different way that doesn’t cost the company money but still keeps the customer happy. Knowing the company’s ultimate goals will help you make the right decision in every situation.

Customer service is always important, but in the increasingly competitive world of self-storage, investor returns can’t be ignored. Working to create wins for everyone on your team will help you stand apart as an MVP. Find the win for the storage customer, your supervisor, the property owner and the investor.

Communicate Openly

Clear, open communication is vital to a strong, healthy team. It means asking questions when you don’t understand the project, expected outcome or process. Having a curious mind and seeking to understand makes an MVP, while constantly questioning authority and asking the same questions over and over does not.

Having open communication means speaking up when you think there’s a better way to do something but not taking it personally if you learn there isn’t. As the first line and face of the store, managers see the rules and processes from a customer perspective, which is invaluable information. Being able to clearly communicate with customers and smooth over issues will help you move forward and excel at your job.

Channel the Right Mindset

Having an open and supportive mindset is also part of being a good team player. It involves thinking about the bigger picture, knowing your career goals, and actively looking for ways to increase your own value as well as that of the business. The best managers constantly look for ways compensate for weaknesses, improve the property and understand the perspective of their supervisors. The worst ones have a victim mentality, expect raises because they warmed the chair for a certain period, constantly question the wrong things, and demand attention just for doing their job.

The role of self-storage manager has changed from caretaker to so much more. It’s no longer enough to be in the office waiting for the phone to ring. Having a deep understanding of the company’s goals and working every day to do everything possible to accomplish them is how a manager goes from average to amazing. Understanding that the job is much more dynamic than in the past and the market is getting more competitive will help managers develop good work habits that push their career forward.

Have a Plan

Managing a self-storage property is very active. There are always calls to return, leads to follow, maintenance work to do and things to check off the list. It’s quite common to help a customer the moment you walk in the office and immediately get caught up in work so you never even clock in. So, you need a daily plan. Having one is important no matter your job title. It keeps you on track and shows your team that you’re focused.

Organize your day so you accomplish your most important tasks in the morning. Arriving on time and ready is crucial and shows good time management. Too often, having a property open at 9 a.m. actually means the manager arrives at 9:03 and rushes to get in the door, clock in and take care of customers. Being a superior manager means arriving a few minutes early so you can get set up and start your day on the right foot—and on time.

Doing the right things at the right time is the best way to improve your storage property. If you only have 20 minutes, is it a better to make your follow-up calls or sweep the floor? Which will make the company money?

Show Grit

Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term, meaningful goals. It’s one thing that separates successful people from those who aren’t. Inevitably, plans will get off track, goals are harder than we think and, some days, we just don’t “feel it.” Grit is the ability to move past all that and keep doing what you know will move the needle forward. It’s what gets us out of the office to overlock units when the property is covered in snow or it’s blazing hot. It keeps us focused on goals for the business and our own career.

Anyone can work to increase their grit. It isn’t something you’re born with; it’s a choice you make every day. Doing the right things at the right time will help you accomplish goals for your property and move your career forward.

The role of self-storage manager is dynamic and changing. You’re expected to clearly communicate with customers and other team members, solve problems with the good of the customer and company in mind, and stay focused on the day-to-day needs of the facility. Master these habits and you’ll definitely be an MVP!

Magen Smith is a co-founder of Atomic Storage Group, a boutique self-storage management company, and owner of Magen Smith CPA, an outsourced accounting firm specializing in self-storage. She’s also a partner in Safe Space Development, which builds self-storage properties. Magen started in the industry as a facility manager and has held nearly every operational role. She has a passion for the industry, helping owners improve their businesses, teaching asset management and conducting self-storage audits. To reach her, e-mail [email protected].

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