What Work Culture Is and Why a Robust One Is Essential to Self-Storage Business Success

A strong work culture can make or break a business, yet a lot of companies underestimate its importance. Even an individual self-storage facility—and certainly a larger, multi-property operation—needs a healthy one. Let’s look at the benefits of a strong workplace culture, the types of cultures that tend to emerge, and factors that can influence the culture within your own organization.

Diane Gibson, Owner and President

May 21, 2024

5 Min Read

When I was first asked to write this article on work culture for self-storage operations, I immediately began to wonder if the staff at my own company are aware of or give any consideration to it. We have a mission statement, but how many of our employees have read it, believe it and are guided by its values? I was so intrigued by these questions that I decided to ask everyone on my team. The responses were both eye-opening and gratifying. 

Work culture is defined as a collection of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that make up the workplace environment; and whether you know it or not, it can have a serious impact on business success. Give that some thought. What’s the culture of your self-storage company, whether you operate a single facility or several or hundreds? If you aren’t sure what work culture is or why it’s important, read on. I’ll also explore some culture types and workplace factors that influence it. 

Why Is Work Culture So Critical? 

It leads to better service. Every self-storage operator strives to hire and train employees who possess exceptional service skills. Those who show respect, a willingness to help and empathy will gain you more renters, even over price. 

It improves employee satisfaction and retention. Employee turnover comes with significant costs and directly impacts daily operation. Training expenses are substantial, plus it’s necessary to keep things running during staff transitions, adding to the financial burden. When team members feel valued and appreciated, they’re more likely to stay long-term and deliver exceptional performance. 

It bolsters teamwork. It takes an exceptional team, one that works in sync, to achieve business goals. Working as a cohesive unit increases success in problem-solving and meeting customer needs.  

It enhances brand reputation and referrals. The best word-of-mouth comes from your existing self-storage customers. Tenants who see that your employees are treated fairly and are committed to ethical and responsible business practices are more likely to refer your company to others. 

Types of Work Culture 

If you aren’t sure where to begin in terms of establishing a healthy work culture for your self-storage business, a clear mission statement is a good place to start. Write a short paragraph to explain why your company exists and define its values and ethics. Be thoughtful, clear and precise in what you want to convey to employees, the public, and potential or current customers.  

This statement should ultimately reflect the type of culture to intend to exemplify. Here are some examples you could emulate: 

Service-driven. This type of culture prioritizes connecting with each customer. The goal is to understand their needs and expectations and strive to exceed them whenever possible. 

Hierarchical. In this culture, which is very focused on chain of command, decision-making authority rests at the top, with clearly defined policies and procedures that employees are expected to follow. 

Collaborative. Teamwork, open communication and cooperation are paramount within this culture. There’s also a strong emphasis on sharing knowledge, ideas and resources to reach company objectives. 

Results-oriented. This work culture is based on measurable performance. Employees are expected to meet goals and deliver results, with an emphasis on accountability. 

Innovative. Creativity, experimentation and risk-taking are encouraged in this environment. Thinking outside the box is standard, as well as encouraging everyone to explore new ideas and how to approach them. 

Flexible. Adaptability is essential in this culture where change is constant and employees must be able to make quick yet appropriate decisions. 

Influences on Work Culture 

Now that we’ve explored some of the directions you might go when shaping your self-storage work culture, it’s important to recognize the circumstances and factors within your organization that could impact its evolution. 

Organizational chart. Your company hierarchy will hinder or support your chosen work culture. Having a structure that clearly defines everyone’s roles and responsibilities helps everyone achieve company goals. 

Corporate values. Your company’s core beliefs should shine through your culture and become ingrained in its DNA. Each value provides a blueprint for all decisions made throughout the organization. 

Leadership. The ethics and leadership style of your key team members set a tone and greatly influence the work culture. Leaders who project and prioritize transparency and employee growth while genuinely caring about team well-being will create a more positive environment.  

Communication. Effective practices in this area are essential for a positive work culture. Open-door policies and transparency create trust, teamwork and a sense of ownership for each employee. Listen to concerns and ideas and always encourage feedback. Miscommunication is the primary reason people become discontented with their jobs. 

Employee satisfaction. Organizations that recognize and celebrate team achievements, provide opportunities for growth and focus on well-being tend to have motivated and trusted employees. 

Environment. Making sure your workplace is comfortable, inclusive and—now more than ever—flexible, can help keep your work culture positive and productive. 

External stimuli. Factors such as market competition, industry trends and changing regulations can also impact your work culture. 

A Path to Success 

Now that you’ve read examples of work-culture types and understand the factors that can affect a self-storage workplace, you’re better equipped to design one that’ll work best for everyone within your own organization, all the way from the owner to your part-time facility employees. The goal is to cultivate an environment that upholds your operation’s values and objectives. 

Creating and maintaining a strong work culture is essential for the success of a self-storage business, but the process takes time, effort and commitment from everyone within the company. It won’t only enhance productivity, longevity and morale, it’s a huge factor in customer satisfaction and loyalty, which ultimately sustains business growth and success. 

Diane Gibson is the president of Peoria, Arizona-based Cox Armored Mini Storage Management, Inc., which manages 17 self-storage facilities in Arizona. Gibson is a past president of the Arizona Self Storage Association. She can be reached at [email protected]. 

About the Author(s)

Diane Gibson

Owner and President, Cox’s Armored Mini Storage Management Inc.

Diane Gibson is the owner and president of Cox’s Armored Mini Storage Management Inc., which manages self-storage facilities in Arizona. Currently president of the Arizona Self Storage Association, she’s participated in roundtables and panels at the association’s conferences. For more information, email [email protected]; visit www.armored-mini-storage.com.


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