The Role of Self-Storage Manager: 5 Abilities That Separate Excellence From Mediocrity

With so many hats to wear and responsibilities to juggle, it can be difficult for self-storage managers to know if they’re reaching their true potential. Here are five abilities that separate excellence from mediocrity.

Susan Haviland

November 5, 2018

4 Min Read
The Role of Self-Storage Manager: 5 Abilities That Separate Excellence From Mediocrity

As a self-storage manager, you wear many hats. You’re expected to oversee everything from tenant relationships and maintenance needs to facility marketing and sales efforts. With such a wide range of responsibilities, it can be difficult to know if you’re working to your highest potential and doing everything possible to achieve success for the business as well as yourself.

Most managers receive a basic set of guidelines to follow and goals to meet from their supervisor or owner. Of course, you’re expected to interact with tenants, generate sales leads and take payments. You have to understand and present to customers all the terms of the lease. And you’re expected to know what to do in a crisis, which could be anything from a broken elevator to a hurricane. While all self-storage managers handle issues that arise, good managers handle them efficiently, with a positive attitude.

So, what separates an excellent manager from a mediocre one? What practices will help you achieve maximum success? Here are five abilities to master.

1. Communicate Clearly and Effectively

Self-storage managers must communicate effectively with customers, co-workers, supervisors and vendors. For example, when tough situations arise, knowing how to explain them to tenants can help ease their concern or stress and provide a more positive experience. When dealing with an angry or upset customer, it’s important to set emotion aside and be aware of your own reactions. You must remain calm, cool and above the negative conversation at hand. Similarly, having the confidence to communicate with vendors when necessary will ensure any required work gets done to specifications and in a timely fashion, preserving your site’s curb appeal and functionality.

2. Be Organized and Consistent

Being organized and consistent with your day-to-day operating procedures, filing system and even office supplies will make it easier to keep up with demands and handle any unexpected situations that come your way. For example, if you systematize tenant files, you’ll find it much easier to locate paperwork when you need it and far less daunting to put things away.

Once you’ve created an operational system, adhere to it. Consistency makes it easier to handle a wide range of situations because it creates clear procedures to follow.

3. Know your Weaknesses

It’s critical to understand your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Acknowledging there are parts of the job at which you’re not the best allows for growth. Being able to put pride aside and ask for help when you need it shows a willingness to learn and improve.

A manager who refuses to see what he could do better within his role is never going to grow and reach his peak. Be humble. Ask for help when needed and learn from the experience. You’ll soon be at the top of your game.

4. Set Personal Goals

While most owners will set monthly or quarterly goals they hope managers will meet or exceed, you should also set personal goals, whether they’re daily, weekly, monthly, etc. It’s easy to coast by and hope you hit your objectives each month, but a great manager determines what needs to be focused on each day to ensure achievement.

Pay attention to your daily revenue and set a number you want to hit each day. Doing this won’t only make you more aware of the business, it’ll motivate you toward daily improvement in a manner that breeds success.

5. Set the Tone

As facility manager, you’re the face of the operation, the one people turn to for good news and bad. You set the tone for the business. If you stand up, smile and greet each customer as he enters the door, he’ll likely respond in kind. Prospects and tenants will notice how you interact with others and will judge your company based on these observations. By setting a positive, productive, efficient tone in your office, you’ll yield excellent results. Tenants will sense your upbeat energy and see your can-do attitude, which should generate positive reviews.

Becoming a top property manager is very much within your reach. Gain an understanding of what you’re doing well and where you can improve. Seek training to minimize or eliminate your weaknesses and refresh your skills in areas where you already excel. Learning and growth should be constant in any job. It’s your duty to lead in every way you can. Keep learning, keep growing, and hold yourself accountable, and success will be inevitable.

Susan Haviland is the owner of Haviland Storage Services and a partner of industry consulting and training firm Self Storage 101. She has more than 28 years of industry experience, from serving as a site manager to acting as vice president of operations at Extra Space Storage Inc. and Price Self Storage. She's a frequent speaker at industry conferences and tradeshows. For more information, call 866.360.2621; visit

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