Sponsored By

Want to Keep That New Self-Storage Hire? Here’s Why and How You Need to Train Them Up

Congratulations on your new self-storage hire! Now, what’s your plan to ensure this team member succeeds? Find out why a quality training program is critical—and should be ongoing—and how to create one that supports and encourages your staff.

Carol Mixon

February 6, 2024

6 Min Read

Hiring became a huge stressor for many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including self-storage operations. Lots of older people decided to retire, while others launched their own companies or switched careers. Remote working also became commonplace, leading many job candidates to seek those opportunities. This new labor landscape has left many owners at a loss when attempting to hire, train and retain good people.

The reality is it now takes more effort to find workers who are a good fit for a self-storage position. Once we hire them, we must keep them happy in their role so they want to stay with the company. An integral part of this attempt is offering a quality training program, not just from day one, but throughout their employment.

Great employee training sets the tone for a positive work environment. We want our team members to provide an amazing customer experience, and we lay the foundation for that during our staff onboarding and development. Even if your self-storage operation is small, you should have a training program. Following is what it should include and how to get started.

Start With a Manual

Before you can create a strong training curriculum for your self-storage team, you must have a quality operations manual. This document should be presented to and used by every employee, even if they’ve worked in the industry before. It’s helpful for them to have a resource to reference when they need a refresher on a procedure or policy.

Here are the items that should be covered. Each of them should be addressed within your training program.

  • Office procedures

  • Filing system

  • Management software

  • Rental agreement and move-in process

  • Unit-vacate process

  • Payments

  • Collections

  • Lien-sale procedures

  • Property maintenance

  • Site security

  • Emergency preparedness

  • Sales and customer service

  • Marketing

  • Ancillary sales (retail, truck rentals, etc.)

  • Monthly reports

If you have more than one storage facility, these policies and procedures should be uniform across all sites. This ensures consistency and makes it easier to oversee them, but it also creates the basis for staff onboarding and education. Regardless of which training method you use, you can always use this guide as a starting point.

Training Options

There are a variety of training methods available in the self-storage industry today. If you don’t have the time or desire to train employees yourself, you can outsource support from several places. Below are some options to consider.

In-house trainer. Some self-storage operators choose a candidate from among the experienced managers on their team. This can be a great approach, as it provides a professional development opportunity for that person, plus they’re already familiar with your operations manual. They know the company and can provide ongoing staff support.

Professional trainer. There are many experts in the industry who will visit your property and train your team on site. Reach out to qualified professionals in your area. If they can’t help you, they can often provide a referral.

Management company. Another way to train your team is to hire a reputable self-storage management company. They’ll have staff in place for onboarding new managers and can offer continual training. They can also adapt their program to your policies and procedures to ensure new hires are up to speed quickly.

Online training. This is very common, especially since the pandemic. You can find many webinars, videos, books, podcasts and more to educate your people. Some are free, but there are also formal programs for purchase.

Start by doing some research. One place to begin is insideselfstorage.com, which offers many expert videos on its Self-Storage TV page as well as hundreds of articles, blogs, galleries, podcasts and more. Industry experts submit new material all the time, so check the site frequently.

There are many self-storage professionals who produce training videos or host podcasts on various topics and post them on YouTube. Find a channel that speaks to you and make sure your managers know to watch them in their downtime.

State associations. Most offer live and recorded training as well as in-person teaching at their annual conferences. Attending local meetings and get-togethers is an amazing way for managers to network while soaking up industry knowledge. Most associations bring in speakers and trainers on a regular basis to assist members in their professional development.

An Emphasis on Sales

Though there are numerous things a new self-storage employee needs to know quickly to be able to operate a facility, you must educate them in how to sell effectively and efficiently, on the phone and in-person. A manager’s sales skills can be one of the most influential factors in having a successful property or improving a site that isn’t performing well. Staff with excellent abilities can overcome occupancy challenges, while those with weak aptitudes will do further damage.

That said, sales should be a critical component of your training program. When I trained staff at National Self Storage early in my career, I spent four of 10 days on this topic alone. The goal was to set a tone for excellence and emphasize how much a manager’s skills can affect facility performance. It also helped us weed out people who were not a good fit for the job.

Moreover, sales training should be ongoing—for everyone. It isn’t only a one-time session you offer new staff members.

Ongoing Training

While many self-storage owners view training as a one-time event, it shouldn’t be. Giving your staff the opportunity to improve their skills should be a priority. New technology, fierce competition and customer expectations are changing the industry rapidly. It’s imperative that employees receive ongoing training to ensure they succeed. They’ll also have more confidence and feel supported by the company.

How often this training occurs will depend on your operation and staff, and the options are plentiful. You might offer a monthly one-hour session focused on a particular topic such as marketing, customer service or sales. If you’re planning to implement a new policy or procedure, training is a necessity. You might also find guidance essential when adding new technology to your business. The best way to determine when to offer additional support is to assess your company and look for gaps in learning.

Many new owners see self-storage as an easy business model, and it can be in certain locations. However, one of the most important and difficult issues can be hiring and retaining staff. Creating a solid training program that provides ongoing industry learning will help you create a stronger workforce and happier employees.

Carol Mixon is owner of SkilCheck Services Inc., which provides self-storage auditing, mystery shopping, development and operations consulting, and sales training. She’s owned and managed more than 35 storage locations in the West and is a frequent speaker at industry tradeshows. She’s also written more than 100 articles for various publications and has served on state and national self-storage association boards. Carol also provides training videos on your YouTube page. For more information, call 800.374.7545; email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Carol Mixon

Owner, SkilCheck Services Inc.

Carol Mixon-Krendl is the owner of SkilCheck Services Inc., which provides self-storage auditing, mystery shopping, development and operations consulting, and sales training. She’s owned and managed more than 35 storage locations in the West and is a frequent speaker at industry tradeshows. She’s also written more than 100 articles for various publications and has served on state and national self-storage association boards. For more information, call 800.374.7545; email [email protected].

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter
ISS is the most comprehensive source for self-storage news, feature stories, videos and more.

You May Also Like