Dream big. Strive for excellence. Reach for the stars. Together everyone accomplishes more, or TEAM. To get to the top of the mountain, it takes many small steps.
As self-storage managers, we’ve all heard motivational quotes and phrases meant to encourage us to set goals and achieve success. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to set personal-improvement ambitions. You need to take a critical look at your skills, abilities and motivations, and then determine where enhancements can be made.
Have the Desire
Self-storage managers are typically given objectives to meet by their owners or supervisors. These might include reaching specific occupancy levels, exceeding a monthly sales goal or keeping expenses below budget. These are clear business aims we can strive to achieve.
But when was the last time you set a personal goal? On-the-job training teaches the basic duties and requirements of the manager position, but these programs can’t teach you motivation, or a strong will to do an excellent job. A healthy work ethic needs to be an inherent trait of yours if you expect to continue improving. If you have a desire to learn and grow, it’s just a question of how to do it.
Do you need to learn a second language to better serve your customer base? Do you struggle with the latest computer programs? Do you need to improve your communication skills? There are many opportunities for personal and professional growth.
In the self-storage industry, places to learn include trade magazines, e-newsletters, forums, webinars and more. You can also learn from experts at industry meetings and conferences. These events give you the opportunity to make contacts and participate in workshops and seminars. Organizations such as Inside Self-Storage (ISS), the national Self Storage Association (SSA) and the many state associations offer free and paid training resources. ISS offers a wealth of information through its website, monthly magazine, online community (Self-Storage Talk) and online store. The SSA offers a Certified Self Storage Manager Certification, which requires online courses and exams to ensure you have the skills and knowledge to be a leader in your field.
To pursue more general business knowledge such as website design, search engine optimization, social media, accounting, computers or other business fundamentals, consider taking local college courses. Marketing is a great area of focus, as expanding those skills can really benefit your operation. Consider:
- Do you know how to write a press release?
- Have you submitted an article about your facility to the local paper?
- Do you have a graphic-design program to create ads?
- Do you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms? Are you using them personally and professionally? These websites can help spread the word about your business. They can also be used as an educational platform for potential customers.
Here are some additional options for expanding your horizons:
- Many states offer property-management classes. You can even get licensed.
- If you need to improve your computer aptitude, some programs offer their own certifications.
- SkillPath, a provider of training solutions, offers professional-development seminars, conferences, webinars and onsite training.
- Pryor Learning Solutions provides online training and webinars on a variety of topics.
- Regional events and courses offer opportunities to expand your management, marketing, accounting and leadership skills. Some of these might count as continuing education credits.
You can also get involved with your local chamber of commerce and network in your community. This may provide an opportunity to hear presentations or attend seminars from local business leaders. Are there impressive owners who intrigue you? Do some excel in areas in which you’d like to improve? Reach out to them and introduce yourself! E-mail and ask if they have time to talk. Let them know you’d like to learn more about their area of expertise to help you improve your skills. Many leaders have been mentored by others and welcome the opportunity to pay it forward.
Even old-school techniques can help you improve your skills. Sign up for business and economic newsletters; read books, newspapers and magazines; and study successful business leaders from the past. Inspiration, great ideas or helpful suggestions can come from so many places!
Take on More Responsibility
When you become an expert in your field, it gives you an opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with others. Offer to help train new employees or assist with opening new sites. This can build leadership, mentoring, training and communication skills. If there are other managers within your company who can help you improve, contact them for guidance. When we share our expertise, the company becomes stronger because each member is setting higher goals.
As you expand your skills and improve your performance, you become more valuable to the company, which could lead to more compensation. It also can make you more attractive to other owners or management companies. You never know when you might be recruited by a larger company or have an opportunity for advancement to district or regional positions. Broadening your skills will also enhance your résumé in the event you change careers.
Set Your Goals
We all want a high credit score, great job, nice place to live, dependable transportation, money in the bank and a good reputation. How do we get those things? By setting goals! The same can be done when improving job skills. Identify the areas in which you want to advance, and then set objectives to achieve.
Setting high aims for yourself can be challenging. However, you must remain realistic and patient. Focus on your timeline. We can’t change overnight. Most new habits take at least 30 days to form. Classes may take weeks or months to complete. Having a mentor could be a lengthy process. As long as you’re committed to making your goals a reality, you can achieve so much more than you previously thought possible.
One last thought: Never settle for average, good enough or OK. Doing the bare minimum just to collect your paycheck won’t help your career. When you set a high standard for yourself, it’ll help you achieve more. Once you reach your goals, set new ones and dream even bigger. You never know where it may lead!
Donna Edwards started in the self-storage industry in 2013. Her performance as a site manager led to an expansion of her responsibilities to include roles as a traveling trainer, site auditor and inspector for new acquisitions across the Southeast. She regularly creates content on manager training and improvement. She’s currently an office manager and freelancer helping small business owners manage and market their businesses. To reach her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.